Ogoniland Pollution
A picture of the oil spillage and pollution in Ogoniland

Foundation Trains Oil-producing Community Members on Environmental Pollution Monitoring

The Health of Mother Earth Foundation, an environmental rights group, on Saturday, trained 80 residents of Ogboibiri, an oil-bearing community in Bayelsa State, on environmental pollution monitoring and reporting.

The Programme Manager, HOMEF, Mr. Stephen Oduware, pointed out that the training became necessary because the community had been highly impacted by activities of oil and gas industries in the area.

Oduware noted that people in the community, which is located at the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, were in a better position to protect their environment and report any form of pollution affecting them.

He explained that the goal of the training was to bring the people together to highlight and document the environmental challenges caused by pollution.

The programme manager added that the skills would enable them to document their experiences and how environmental pollution was affecting their daily lives.

Oduware noted that the activities of international oil companies in the area have been polluting the environment, with oil spills and gas leakages recorded in 2015, 2021 and 2022.

This, according to him, has resulted in environmental pollution and degradation, adding that many of the farmers and fishermen in the community have lost their means of livelihood.

“Fishermen and women can no longer go to the river to fish because the water is highly polluted, and you know you cannot find fish in the soup of oil.

“The people are also concerned that a particular species called “Mama Coco”, a cherished specie of cocoyam, is extinct in the community and other crops and tubers are experiencing low yield,” he said.

Oduware said the training was also organised to stand in solidarity with the people and to assure them that “together, we can push and fight for a healthy environment.”

According to him, the capacity-building training will enable the community members to advocate for sustainable environmental practices and speak up about what they want in their community.

He said, “It may take time, but we will make progress at the end of the day. The training covers sessions on community governance to enable them to partner with relevant stakeholders including civil society organisations to amplify their voices.

“This will make their voices heard by government officials and policymakers and eventually create the change that they want to see in their community.”

Oduware urged the oil companies working in the community to stop the spills and conduct regular assessments on the health status of the people.

He also called on the companies to carry out environmental cleanup and restore the livelihood of the people affected by environmental pollution due to their activities.

On his part, the Programme Manager, Head of Environmental Right Action, Niger Delta Resource Centre, Mr. Morris Alagoa, said the training would enlighten the people on environmental pollution and mitigation procedures.

He argued that oil spill was among the environmental pollutants that affects the healthy living of rural dwellers.

“We are here to empower the community members on how to reach out to the government, the oil firms, and the media with concerns relating to environmental pollution.

“This will equip them with the needed skills to deal with their issues,” he added.

Also, Project Officer, ERA, Mr. Monday Zeworitin, described pollution as the “alteration of the natural physicochemical characteristics of an entity, medium or matter” because of the presence of substances or compounds.

He said that oil spill was a form of pollution caused by the accidental release of liquid petroleum hydrocarbons into the environment due to human activity.

“These spills load the marine environment with a lot of dangerous chemicals that are detrimental to life underwater.

“When exposed to oil, adult fish may experience reduced growth, enlarged livers, changes in heart and respiration rates, fin erosion, and reproduction impairment.

“Oil also adversely affects eggs and larval survival,” he said.