A network of non-governmental and community based organizations working on impact of extractive operations in African resource communities has frowned at the long neglect of the oil pollution in Goi Community in Ogoni, Rivers State, Nigeria and called on the federal government to institute immediate clean-up and remediation of the environment as well as compensation for the now displaced community members.
The network, International African Network held a four-day capacity building workshop for community based organizations working in the extractive sector from February 26-29 at Visa Karina Hotel,Port Harcourt.
It visited Goi Community as part of its experiencing sharing on oil impacted communities and discovered that despite repeated cries for attention from local and international bodies for action on Goi, nothing has been done except for displacing the people without alternative arrangements or support.
Community members at the site told the visitors they have been left to their fate despite the loss of their source of livelihoods and homes as well as accompanying health challenges.
Hosted by Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Center, the workshop had participants from eight African countries including, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and South Africa, secretariat of the network.
Welcoming participants, Kebetkache executive director, who is also a steering committee member of IANRA, Ms Emem Okon said the focus of the network is on ensuring resource communities benefit from the resource in their land through monitoring how extractive activities impact on
their lives, peace and security.
She said kebetkache was happy IANRA chose Nigeria for the workshop, noting that though Nigeria has other mineral resources, fossil fuel is her key resource and it has impacted negatively on host communities with women bearing the greater burden.
According to her, Kebetkache has been working with women in oil and gas host communities of the Niger Delta to amplify their voices and build their capacity to advocate for inclusion in governance and has been able to bring some women on board community leadership.
“Through training to enhance women capacity on leadership and advocacy, women now have chieftaincy titles in some communities and are being included in peace-building structures. We also worked with the Akwa Ibom State government to adopt climate adaptation policies”, the Kebetkache ED stated.
She explained that a visit to Goi had been arranged to enable participants see what happens to resource communities in Nigeria.
IANRA team leader, Emilia Hatendi of the Center for Women and Development, Zimbabwe informed that the network has membership in 15 countries including Malawi, Zambia and has as its main objective, the promotion of mineral resource community members to be able to claim a stake in governance of dividend from such resources for improved sustainable livelihood, noting that such communities are usually least developed.
According to her, IANRA is seeking to influence policies and legislations by reaching out to key stakeholders like the UN Assembly, African Union, ECOWAS, Mining Indaba, etc.
She explained that the workshop was funded by Fair Green Global Consortium to amplify community voices, expand civic space, stimulate movements and invest in national capacity development.
Emilia said knowledge gained from the capacity building and experience sharing would be used to design advocacy strategies for extractive industries in the respective countries.