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Cablegate: Undp Plans in the Niger Delta

VZCZCXRO0654
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0630/01 2611452
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181452Z SEP 07
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9410
INFO RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 9186
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0138
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000630

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED--HANDLE ACCORDINGLY; SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W
STATE FOR INR/AA
ENERGY FOR CAROLYN GAY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID EPET SOCI NI
SUBJECT: UNDP PLANS IN THE NIGER DELTA

REF: Lagos 0060

1. (SBU) Summary: A United Nations (UN) official outlined a four
part development program in the Niger Delta to be implemented in
partnership with Shell Petroleum Development Company. He decried
the lack of a concerted international plan to address ongoing unrest
in the region. The UN continues to operate in most parts of the
Delta under "normal" security precautions and wants to open an
office in Port Harcourt.

---------------------------
Delta Assessment is Grim,
Lack of Coordination Decried
----------------------------

2. (SBU) During a round of introductory meetings with host country
and international organization officials in Abuja, ECONOFFS met with
Turhan Saleh, the Country Director for the United Nations
Development Program (UNDP) in Nigeria. Saleh started the discussion
by decrying the lack of international coordination on development
activities in the Delta. While acknowledging the good work of US
Agency for International Development (USAID) and the UK's Department
of International Development (DFID), he said most development
activities failed to fit into any broad plan for the region or
engage in any coordinated way with Nigeria's federal government. He
urged more international cooperation and planning on development
activities.

3. (SBU) Saleh said the UNDP's assessment of the situation in the
Delta was grim. He later shared a copy of a restricted UNDP report
written prior to the April 2007 Nigerian national elections, which
outlined projections for best case, medium case, and worst case
scenarios post-election. The medium and worst cases, deemed most
likely to occur, predicted increasing violence in the region with no
movement towards a solution. However the worst case's most dire
predictions of severe instability and oil production falling to
300,000 bpd have so far failed to materialize.

-----------------------------------------
Shell Funds UNDP Initiative in the Delta
-----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Saleh described a MOU the UNDP has signed with Shell
Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to fund and manage a Niger
Delta development program in Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states. SPDC
will contribute $14 million of the program's $18 million budget with
an additional $10 million contribution for an environmental damage
assessment project.

5. (SBU) The development program consists of four parts. One part
is a local governance improvement program designed to strengthen the
capacity of local leaders and governments and to improve
transparency. Activities include financing a local development fund
to be used by Local Government Areas in small development projects,
the creation and implementation of coherent local budget and
planning procedures and facilitating local dialogue. Additionally,
the UNDP program will create a knowledge base that can be used by
local leaders in policy creation and implementation.

6. (SBU) Also envisioned is a youth empowerment and employment
project. Planned are three vocational skills training centers that
will combine technical skills training with HIV/AIDS counseling and
courses on conflict resolution and leadership development.

7. (SBU) The largest, if most narrowly focused project, is an
assessment of environmental conditions in the troubled Ogoniland,
the tribal home of the Ogoni people and an area in Rivers state hit
hard by oil spills, oil fires, and gas flaring. This is the most
detailed portion of the four part development plan and will include
overhead imagery, soil, water, and air sampling, a review of local
fish stocks, a database of environmental conditions in the area, and
technical recommendations on alleviating environmental damage.
According to Saleh, the initial assessment is due in the third
quarter of 2008. Ogoniland was the home to some SPDC operations
until 1993, when production was shut-in due to severe unrest and
intense local opposition. [Note: SPDC has estimated that Ogoniland
could produce 28,000 bpd.] It was also the home of Ogoni activist
and writer, Ken Saro-Wiwa, executed by the Nigerian government in
1995.

------------------------------------------
UN Personnel Free to Move in Most of Delta
------------------------------------------

LAGOS 00000630 002 OF 002

8. (SBU) Saleh went on to mention that the UN wishes to open an
office in Port Harcourt to house the various UN organizations
working in the Delta. The approximately fifty person staff would
include not only locals, but expatriate UN employees. When asked
about the impact of security restrictions on UNDP activities in the
Delta region, Saleh responded that UN personnel are free to move
about the region using what he termed, "normal security
precautions," and that he had traveled to the Delta on numerous
occasions. The only area considered out of bounds is Warri South.
He did acknowledge that a review of the situation in Port Harcourt
is possible in light of recent clashes between security forces and
armed gangs.

9. (SBU) Comment: The discussion with Saleh was a welcome insight
into UNDP activity in the region. Saleh appears eager to share
information on ongoing projects and participate in closer
international coordination on Niger Delta development and engagement
with the Nigerian government. Our Ogoni contacts have expressed
suspicion over the UNDP/SPDC cleanup project in Ogoniland because
they were not consulted. We will continue to monitor the progress
of the UNDP's efforts. End Comment.

McConnell

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