144 Socio-economic baseline for oil-impacted communities in Ogoniland: towards a restoration framework in Niger Delta, Nigeria

Sam K., Zabbey N., Vincent-Akpu I.F., Komi G., Onyagbodor P.O., Babatunde B.B. (2024) Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 31 (17), pp. 25671 – 25687,DOI: 10.1007/s11356-024-32805-0

ABSTRACT: This study documents the socio-economic baselines in selected oil-impacted communities prior to the commencement of the Ogoni clean-up and restoration project. Adopting mixed approach consisting of semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions (FGDs), key informant interviews (KIIs), and household surveys, we surveyed the pre-remediation socio-economic conditions in the Ogoniland communities between July 2018 and March 2019. Results indicated that almost all respondents (99.6%) agreed that the smell of petroleum products or crude oil was evident in the air they breathed even as there were visible black particles (soot) in the respondents’ nostrils, on their clothes, and in water. The respondents described the ambient air as smoky and choked with an offensive smell. The household waters were smelly, brownish, or oily, and most respondents (76%) cannot afford to treat their water. Forty-two percent of the respondents who relied on fishing and farming for a living sought for alternative means of subsistence and acknowledged that oil pollution caused stunted growth and low crop yield. The majority of respondents (91%) reported falling fish catches, while the fish caught smell and taste of oil, lowering their market value and posing a potential health risk to consumers. It is evident that oil pollution has impacted the socio-ecological values and sustainable livelihood in Ogoniland. This study provides baseline data for monitoring post-remediation socio-economic improvements in Ogoniland. It also highlights areas of urgent intervention to improve livelihood, and access to basic amenities (e.g., potable drinking water), waste management infrastructure, and statutory policy changes for sustainable development in Ogoniland. 

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