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20 Jun 2022

Daniels Igoni, Punch (Nigeria)

Nigeria: Women leaders demand to benefit from oil spill-related compensation as they suffer the most because of pollution

‘Bayelsa women demand inclusion in oil spill compensation benefits’ 16 June 2022

Community women leaders in Bayelsa State have demanded the inclusion of women as beneficiaries of the benefits that accrue from oil spill-related incidents in their communities as they suffer huge livelihood losses as a result of pollution. They spoke at a one-day sensitisation programme themed, ‘Oil on Water: Women suffer oil spills in marine ecosystem in terms of livelihood and health’, which was held at the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria office in Yenagoa, on Tuesday. It was organised by a community rights advocacy organisation, Ondewari Health, Education and Environmental Project, with support from the Global Greengrants Fund.

… Speaking, a women leader from Ikarama community in the Yenagoa LGA, Ayibakuro Warder, said, “We are marginalised in oil spill matters. Even during Joint Investigation Visits (conducted on oil spill impacted sites), women will not be carried along, only men will be there. “But in terms of oil spill, women are the most affected in the Niger Delta. We are farmers and oil spill affects our farms and farmlands. There is hunger in the Niger Delta because oil spills have destroyed farmlands and rivers.” Another participant, Philomena Lafieghe, from Ondewari community in the Southern Ijaw, said the marginalisation of women over oil spill compensation was unacceptable, stressing that the women folk would no longer be relegated to the background.

… Also speaking, the Secretary of OHEEP, Yeiyei Tontiemotei, said the time had come for community women to embrace unity and support themselves to ensure that their rights were respected. In a presentation titled, “Women Inclusion in Post-Spill Activities”, a guest speaker and political scientist, Mrs Inokoba Werikumo, advocated that community women should be included in the payment of compensation by oil firms. She said, “To do this, there is need for proper documentation of lands apportioned to women that are into farming as well as collation of items destroyed as a result of oil spillage. “Crude oil exploration activities have impacted negatively on their health and livelihood as those depending mostly on fishing and farming have now been subjected to untold hardship due to oil spill/pollution on land and waterways.”