KebetKache Women Development and Resource Centre organized the Earth Day and Women Health Tribunal on Monday, 24 April 2023 at Visa Karena Hotel in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The theme for this year’s Earth Day is ‘Invest in the Planet!’
KebetKache celebration aimed to spotlight the destruction of the earth by over seven decades of fossil fuel extraction in Nigeria and the implications for women and their health. The Women’s Health Tribunal is a space to share experiences on environment, pollution, and women’s health
The conference brought together women from communities in the Niger Delta, representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations, Community Based Organizations, Community Leaders, Local Government Councilors from Rivers state and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Women’s Health Tribunal headed by a panel of judges consisting of renowned environmentalists, health and media veterans and a team of legal personnel, conducted a mock trial where women from Bisene, Okwuzi, Ibaa, Obelle, Gelegele, Ogoni and Otuabagi presented their cases against Shell, Agip, and other oil operators.
Participants observed the following:
- The earth is essential and invaluable to human survival worldwide and must be respected and protected.
- The activities of extractive industries have and continue to impact negatively on the land and water sources in the region.
- There is increased deforestation and land grabbing in indigenous communities of the Niger Delta.
- There is government failure at all levels to address the nagging environmental problems plaguing the Niger Delta.
- There is insensitivity by Niger Delta States towards the suffering of women in the face of devastating floods, biodiversity loss, destruction of the environment especially in the aftermath of the 2022 flood.
- That Niger Delta Women have become more vulnerable with the combination of the degradation and now annual flooding.
The Women’s Health Tribunal observed as follows:
- The destruction of Niger Delta ecosystem has made agriculture no longer lucrative, led to loss of livelihood and general poverty in the region.
- That the failure of government at all levels has reduced the chances of development in the Niger Delta and in turn, condemned the region to adverse socio-economic, health and environmental challenges.
- That the Niger Delta region is at the risk of further devastating floods and adverse environmental consequences and requires urgent government action.
- That States and Local Governments in the Niger Delta are yet to prioritize and incorporate climate change mitigation and financing into their developmental and fiscal programmes and policies.
The conference resolved:
*That it is imperative that all-government, oil corporations take collective and individual actions to save the earth and guarantee a sustainable future for other generations.
*That people reduce consumption and manage waste effectively through sorting, reuse, recycling, repurposing and adapt cautious use of water.
*That government at all levels especially HYPREP, should step up action on environment protection, sanitation and the Ogoni clean-up.
The Tribunal resolved as follows:
- That the oil companies operating in the Niger Delta have through their activities adversely impacted on host communities.
- That women’s health and economic wellbeing have been grossly tampered with.
- That the oil companies, in particular, Shell and Agip have been operating as monsters and have not honoured their responsibility to the host communities and are therefore, declared guilty as charged.
- That governments at all levels in Nigeria should massively invest in gender just climate solutions.
- The polluters of the environment should be made to pay for their actions.
- That the health needs of women and oil host communities must be adequately addressed.
Signed on behalf of the participants:
Cynthia Bright – Gbolekekro Women Organization, Gelegele Community
Kukan Tambari Rose – Women Peace Advocacy Network
Chief Constance Meju – Centre for Media Communications & Development
Emem Okon – Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre
Idorenyin Ating – League of Queens International Empowerment
Patience Ekong – Women Initiative on Climate Change (WICC)
Regina Fabian – Annie Rural Health Foundation
Princess Victoria Umoh – Development Research Support & Initiative