By Eferegbo Henry
Ogoni women have been assured of greater inclusion in the livelihood programmes of HYPREP under the Ogoni Clean-up programme. Governing board member and former MOSOP president, Mr. Legborsi gave the assurance at an interactive session organized by Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Center.
The governing council member was giving an updates on the Ogoni UNEP Clean- Up in Port Harcourt last week. He explained that contrary to beliefs that, HYPREP has not abandoned women even though they were not directly included in the recommendations of UNEP, the but has instead, mapped out plans to engage more women in its livelihood programme in an effort to address poverty arising from the effect of years of pollution in the area.
According to him, N120million was earmarked in the UNEP Recommendation for the training of youths involved in artisanal refinery and awareness creation, and in the wisdom of the structures working with HYPREP and stakeholders, some amount of the N100billion released to HYPREP was invested and has yielded additional N4billion which will now be used for education and expanded livelihood empowerment.
To this end, Legborsi said a proposal to train and empower 500 persons in Ogoni is being considered and of this number, 100 slots will be dedicated to Ogoni women while 400 slots will go to communities impacted by oil pollution. In addition, the Ogoni leader disclosed that an Ogoni female technocrat will head the special body to be set up to manage the implementation of the N4billion fund programme.
Legborsi used the occasion to clarify information regarding the recent commissioning of a cassava processing plant wrongly credited to HYPREP. He explained that the project aimed at improving livelihood opportunities in Ogoniland was a project conceived by Stakeholder Democracy Network, SDN and is being implemented in association with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, IITA. He commended SDN and IITA for initiating and partnering to deliver on the project in Ogoni and the training of 150 persons who will operate the facility and called on other non-governmental organizations to take a cue from the SDN/IITA to further develop Ogoni and other parts of the Niger Delta.