By our reporter, Ughelli
The Niger Delta Women Peace and Development (NDWPD), Non Governmental Organization, with a vision to empowering Women, promoting enduring peace, conflict mediation in the Niger Delta region as well as girl-child education and ecological imperatives, has joined other relevant NGOs and government agencies on the crusade against the global menace called climate change.
Delivering her speech, Wednesday at the Niger Delta Women’s Tribunal/Climate Justice Hearing, with the theme “Women and climate Justice: Strengthening Voices, Search for Solutions in the Niger Delta, Nigeria” held at Wiltrice Hotel, Ughelli, Delta state, national President ofNDWPD, Princess (Mrs.) Caroline Usikpedo-Omoniye, MCIA, bemoaned the rate of damaged caused by the menace and the activities of multinational oil companies in the region.
According to the group “One of the most disturbing ironies in the Niger Delta today is that the pipelines are laid across farms, waterways, fishing grounds communities and living quarters. Not enough care is given to the technical integrity of the pipes, so they corrode, burst and cause a deluge of oil spills, fires that consume plants and human lives especially women and children. Adaptation to climate change is therefore no longer a secondary and long-term response option only to be considered as a last resort. It is now prevalent, and for those rural communities in the Niger Delta like Burutu, Forcados, Foutorugbene already vulnerable to the impacts of present day climate hazards, and urgent imperative especially the rain seasons in the Niger Delta where economic activities are halted due to high flood, causing food insecurity, affecting education activities and human rights.”
Usikpedo-Omoniye while enumerating some of the problems faced in the region to include oil spill, food security, change in vegetation and gas flaring, she however noted that the devastating impacts of these incidents on the farmlands, crops, economic trees, creeks, lakes, fishing equipment is such that the people can no longer engage in productive farming and fishing as they us to do adding that “ Several major rivers are heavily polluted and also farmlands are under acid rain and oil spills. Oil canals and network of pipelines is making it impossible and dangerous for women to undertake economic activities on it.”
In communiqué issued and signed by eight man communiqué committee, Mr. Efik Surveyor, Chief Mrs. Whegbere (JP), Mrs. Martha Iweh Okoro, Mrs. Benedicta Ekemiafor, Mr Okezi Odugala, Mr. Kolawale Lawal, Mr. Omonode Kejekpo and Mrs. Onose Martha at the end of the one Niger Delta Women tribunal and climate Justice and made available to the press, noted that one of the most disturbing ironies in the Niger Delta today is that the pipelines are laid across farms, waterways, fishing grounds communities and living quarters. Not enough care is given to the technical integrity of the pipes, so they corrode, burst and cause a deluge of oil spills, fires that consume plants and human lives especially women and children. They further noted that adaptation to climate change is therefore no longer a secondary and long-term response option only to be considered as a last resort but now prevalent, and for those rural Communities in the Niger Delta like Burutu, Forcados, Foutorugbene already vulnerable to the impacts of present day Climate hazards, and urgent imperative especially the rain seasons in the Niger Delta where economic activities are halted due to high flood, causing food insecurity, affecting education activities and human rights.
According to the communiqué the aim of the Climate Justice Hearings is to up-scale local solutions and bringing the voices of those most affected women and traditionally excluded groups to influence negotiations and plans of action on climate change at the national as well as the international level during COP17 and Rio+ 20.
“After an exhaustive testimony by five women and others from different communities in the Niger delta region, namely; Foutorugbene , Forcados, Orogun and Burutu Communitie of diverse ecological problems namely flooding, seasonal climate changes, sever heat which has affected their fishing and farming work i.e their main traditional occupation, they have noticed that they are more than 30yrs fishing and farming experiences has shown negative yield production which has impacted adversely their social economic life; no more food crop for domestic consumption, no more income from farm product, sales to train their children and assist their family, no infrastructure in this oil bearing communities most especially health care centre which has lead to death from persons who falls ill from diseases aftermath of climate change problems. Educational activities are put on hold because flood has destroyed the community school premises and distorted yearly academic calendar.” They noted.
All testifiers called on pro active actions from government and international organization towards saving the environment from devastation and poverty as they are more vulnerable to climate change.
They called on the entire Niger Delta women, the organizer of the program (NDW) to take their plight to , the UNFCC COP 17 durban, south Africa and let the international body come to their rescue to mitigate and adapt to climate change problems as a means of sustaining their livelihood which is farming and fishing.
They also called on the Nigeria government to address as a matter of urgency the climate change problem to save their life and generation yet unborn, they wonder if they are part of the country with their contribution through oil and gas exploration in their different communities in the Niger delta region.
The participants at the climate change tribunal therefore recommend that; the complaints should be taken to the respective authorities at the local, state and federal government levels, all the concern expressed should be well represented at the forth coming UNFCC COP 17 and the Rio+20, the international community should come to their rescue with meaningful support such as finance, capacity building, sensitization, awareness creation and adaptive techniques, the climate change tribunal should be carried out periodically across the various communities in the Niger Delta, advocacy visits should be embarked on upon with outcome of the Climate Change Tribunal to the Niger Delta State Houses of Assembly, the Traditional Rulers Council, the Ministry of Environment, including the line Ministries and all the concern oil/gas companies, all Stakeholders and communities members should embark on massive tree planting exercise in their respective communities to serve as risk preparedness measures as well as the Niger Delta States Government should put in place early warning signal at community level to take care of emergency response.