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Anti-Gas Flare War Underway In Niger Delta by Women

29 July 2011

Anti-Gas Flare War Underway In Niger Delta by Women

Apparently threatened by the menacing impact of climate change, some 250 Niger Delta women are currently threatening to mobilize women and youths in the oil and gas region, to rise again against big oil if they failed to stop the environmentally destructive gas flaring in the area.

This, AkanimoReports understood will be the direct fallout of their meeting last week to x-ray the negative impact of continued gas flaring vis-a-vis the rampaging climate change. At their environmental conference in a remote community in the oil region, the protesting women resolved to take on the transnational oil and gas corporations operating in the oil region, in a bid to compel them to stop further gas flaring there.

They have also resolved to mobilize and organize in a seeming frantic bid to ensure that oil companies are accountable. In their view, gas flaring has allegedly resulted in soil infertility, decreases in agricultural productivity, forest and animal loss, and contributes to global warming

Executive Director of Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, Emem Okon, a community action, education and non-governmental organization in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, who made this known to AkanimoReports on Saturday, said the conference was organised by her group.

A guest speaker at the conference, Mr. Bari-ara Kpalap, the Information Officer of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) said the women conference centred on “Gas Flaring, Women’s Rights and Global Climate Change” and was held in Okwuzi community in Ogba/Ndoni/Egbema Local Government area of the state.

The participants were drawn from community representatives, community women, civil society organizations and the media. AkanimoReports gathered that presentations made included a highlight of key socio-economic impact of gas flaring; sharing of the Ogoni experience; gas flaring and climate change disasters; and mobile phone for social change.

They, however, observed that oil production has brought endemic poverty and conflict in the Niger Delta and that gas flaring has resulted in soil infertility, decrease in agricultural productivity, forest and animal loss and equally fuels the worrisome global warming

According to them, some communities in the oil region are already experiencing rise in sea level.

“Nigeria is already dealing with the impact of climate change and Shell and other oilcompanies have refused to stop gas flaring in the Niger Delta. Whether or not there is scientific prove of the effects of gas flaring; the communities of the Niger Delta have experienced drastic negative changes in their environment since the beginning of oil exploration in Nigeria”, they said.

For the women who are bracing for anti-gas flaring war, there are linkages between the environmental crises and the human rights crises in the Niger Delta, pointing out that respect for women’s rights is an important indicator to understand global well being and that women do 2/3 of the world’s work but only receive 10% of world’s income.

“Despite the efforts of feminists, women still suffer disproportionately. Empowered women contribute to the health and productivity of whole families and communities. Discrimination against women should be totally eliminated from the domestic to the public sphere”, they said.

They also resolved that women education should be promoted at all levels; farmlands should be remediated by government and oil companies to enhance agricultural productivity in the Niger Delta; oil companies should stop gas flaring in the Niger Delta and that rather than waste associated gas oil companies should convert it to more economic use.

“Oil companies should stop degrading and polluting the environment. Civil Society organizations should continue to advocate and campaign against gas flaring and other forms of environmental abuse in the Niger Delta. Oil companies should apply uniform international environmental standards in the Niger Delta. National Assembly should expedite action in the passage of the bill against gas flaring”, the women demanded.

In recognition of their rights and the critical role in development they called on oil companies to ensure direct interaction and engagement with community women whenever the need arises and that the Federal Government in conjunction with the oil companies should undertake a holistic cleaning of the Niger Delta environment.

ENDS

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