CEHRD Environmental team and the Women in Environmental Justice Network, WEJN, paid an advocacy visit to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) as part of the efforts of the network to garner support for women and to encourage them to speak for themselves. It is believed that engaging with government regulatory agencies will enhance their abilities to demand justice against the issues of environmental degradation and poverty plaguing the Niger Delta region due to oil exploration.
During the visit, WEJN advised the Zonal Controller of (DPR) with her team to always suggest favorable policies that will preserve the Niger Delta polluted environment and any company which caused such pollution should not only pay compensation but should, by law, restore the polluted site back to its natural state to their appropriate authority. WEJN also enjoined DPR to create modalities that will enforce the oil companies to reduced pollution and the risk of oil spills as the effects are more on women and children as well as the inclusion of women in the processes of managing oil spills /(Joint Investigation Visits (JIV) noting that as the most vulnerable group, women will be able to explain the effects and suggest better ways of remediation as well as management of compensation money for alternative livelihood
The Zonal Controller acknowledged the importance of women and their roles on issues of environment. She advised that WEJN should engage and lobby the Ministry of Women Affairs and Minister for Environment (Federal Ministry of Environment), saying that since both ministries are headed by women, they can influence policies and programs of women. She noted that for affirmative action to work, women should do things to promote other women.
From 4th to 7th of May, 2015, CEHRD Field Officer was at Omoku to support SFCG Field Officer for Rivers state and SFCG Lead Master trainer to facilitate a four day training on Mediation and Dialogue Facilitation for the Local Project Committee, LPC of Omoku.
The mediation and dialogue training was essential to provide the LPC with the facilitation skills needed in serving as the face of Tomorrow Is A New Day, TND II project in their community. It provided a platform for the LPC members to understand the concept of the peace building process, equipping them with mediation skills that will aid them as leaders in Omoku Community.
The training provided the LPC with the much needed mediation and dialogue facilitation skills for their interpersonal transformation, recognising their role as representatives and the face of TND II in Omoku community.
CEHRD program team supported the SFCG Field officers for Rivers state to conduct a step-down training on advanced advocacy in Kpor community for the women group. 30 women were in attendance.
During the two days trainings, the facilitators used demonstration, group work and question and answers sessions to make participants understand and participate in the trainings. The 30 women were able to explore in depths different training modules on advocacy. The first module enable participants to explore the concept of advocacy, uses of advocacy, the need to advocate, steps in advocacy and the common ground approach to advocacy, problem and solution tree, use of stakeholder analysis in advocacy and how lobbying can be a powerful tool in the advocacy process.
The training ended with participants being made to develop an action plan around the issue of illiteracy. They will tackle it through the introduction of adult education for rural women. This led to the formation of a 5 woman technical workgroup (TWG) who will lead the development of action plan to tackle issues on adult education for rural women in Kpor to prepare them for inclusion in decision making processes.
Thirty seven (37) women selected from oil impacted communities in Rivers and Bayelsa states, were trained on Advocacy. The trainings, organised by CEHRD, were held on the 26th and 27th June 2015 in Bayelsa state and 16th and 17th July 2015 in Rivers state. The aim of the trainings were to equip the selected women with the skills to participate effectively in advocacy and decision making on environmental issues, strengthen their communication and assertiveness skill, and increase their knowledge on violence against women and environmental justice. The selected women were key players in their community, and were active during the town hall meetings.
The Women for Environmental Justice Networks (WEJN) were formed at the end of the trainings. The aim of the network is to work towards the improvement of women involvement in environmental issues in their communities, provide support for other women in various Local Government Areas and communities in Bayelsa and Rivers state on issues relating to decision making on the environment. Under this activity the following were achieved:
The participants were equipped with skills and knowledge on communication, assertiveness, violence against women, environmental justice and advocacy. The network formation was initiated and board members and chair persons elected. The group outlined actions to be taken by the network towards increased involvement of women in decision making on environmental issues.
In pursuit of the aims and objectives of the Women In Environmental Justice Network (WEJN) to engage with regulatory agencies to speak out for justice on issues of environmental degradation and poverty plaguing the Niger Delta region due to oil exploration, CEHRD lead the group on an Advocacy visit to National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA). The visit comprised of representatives from both the Rivers and Bayelsa States Chapter of the group.
The Zonal director acknowledged the importance of women and their roles on issues of environment, he said that women should advocate for good community leadership who will be transparent and honest to follow due processes of JIV during oil spills by selecting a sound technical person with a background in geology. He promised that training of women and sensitizing them is his priority because as mothers they will be able to advise their children on the dangers and effect of spills and also the risks involved in oil theft.
The zonal director recognised WEJN as stakeholders and also a platform to work with.
The peace club in Gokana (Mogho and Bera) and Anyu (Abua/Odual) with support from CEHRD had three advocacy visits to community stakeholders in November and December 2015. Gokana Peace Club community stakeholder advocacy visit was held on Monday, November 23, 2015 with over 20 persons in attendance. The focus of the advocacy was to identify with community stakeholders in addressing incessant incidence of rape and cult attacks which has constituted serious security threats to members of the community.
The Advocacy team was made up of Peace club members, peace club facilitators and CEHRD project officers (Output 3). The first visit was made to the Divisional Police Officer, Nigeria Police, Kpor Divisional Headquarters, (Gokana), the paramount ruler of Mogho community- (His Royal Highness) Mene Stephen B. Kpea and Methodist Church, Mogho Parish.
The DPO Kpor division, SP Charles Ogun expressed concern over the culture of silence displayed by members of the community over the incidences of rape in the communities. He encouraged members of the peace club to give the police vital information which will help his men in handling cases of rape and other forms of violence against women and girls. To facilitate this communication, the DPO gave the advocacy team his direct telephone line.
The paramount ruler of Mogho community- His Royal Highness, Mene Stephen B. Kpea and his chiefs in council pledged their commitment to the peace club by ensuring that issues raised are adequately addressed through collective effort. He also volunteered to be the patron of the peace club in Gokana.
In the same vein, the Methodist church also promised support towards achieving a crime free society by ensuring that children are trained to become good citizens. Speaking on behalf of the church council, Mr. Kpogio Barigiasi Kelvin (Steward I) of the Methodist Church, Mogho Parish appealed to the peace club to see to the inclusion of the church in its activities.
CEHRD NSRP Output three, in conjunction with peace clubs, organised peaceful road walks in Mogho and Bera, Gokana LGA and in Anyu, Abua/Odual LGA, Rivers state from 9th to10th December, 2015.This was in commemoration of the 2015 ‘16 Days Activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV)’ which was used to create awareness on reduction of all forms of violence against women and girls held in Gokana (Mogho & Bera) and Anyu communities respectively. Two hundred (200) peace club members participated in the campaign/rally which started from the Kpor divisional Police Headquarters Kpor (Gokana) and terminated at Bera community secondary school.
In Anyu community, the exercise commenced from the town hall and terminated at the secondary school. Stickers carrying messages calling for a collective responsibility in ending violence against women, shunning cultism and other forms of violence as well as the call for influential participation of women in decision making were distributed to community members during the rally. The peace march increased visibility of the peace clubs and increased awareness on the negative effects of violence against women andgirls.
CEHRD NSRP team participated in several Live Radio shows at Wazobia on entrenching transparency, accountability and inclusiveness in the Design and Delivery of Youth Programmes in Rivers state, at Rhythm FM on Youth Unemployment and Youth Restiveness in Rivers state, at Wazobia FM on Youth Unemployment and Youth Restiveness in Rivers state, at Wazobia on Youths and Constructive Engagement in Demand for Equal Economic Opportunities in Rivers State and at Wazobia on Rivers State Government Budget vis-a-vis percentage allocated for youth employment and empowerment programmes: Deficits and the way forward. CEHRD also produced and aired 2 radio jingles on WAZOBIA FM and NIGERIAINFO FM. We also produced advocacy banner for online campaign for transparency, accountability and inclusivity in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of youth employment and empowerment programmes. The Jingles, radio discussions and newspaper publications put the issue in the public burner through calling for best practices in youth employment and empowerment processes.The programme created awareness on the lack of transparency, accountability and inclusivity in the delivery of youth employment and empowerment programmes in Rivers state and the need to salvage the situation.
The Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) and, Kpor, Okana and Marine Base Youth Leadership Networks in line with its search for accountability of government to the people and the youths and working to reduce youth unemployment in Rivers state paid advocacy visits to several Ministries, agencies and enterprises including the Ministry of Youth Development and Ministry of Employment Generation and Empowerment, National Youth Council PHALGA Chapter, Rivers state. Also visited were the Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI), Rivers state, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, National Directorate of Employment, Epenal Boat Builders in Marine Base and The Community Liaison officer- Japaul Oil Nigeria Limited.
The Ministries, Agencies and Enterprises visited gave recognition to the youth network and its mission as well as verbal commitment to engage all stakeholders in the employment and empowerment programmes in the project implementation communities and continuously make necessary changes to make the process more transparent, accountable and inclusive.
CEHRD NSRP Output three team inaugurated and built the capacity of Peace Club drama group. The group members organises role play sessions with their group lead during their weekly club meeting in Mogho-Gokana LGA, Rivers state. These kids have been mentored and have acquired the necessary skills that enable them to play active roles in peace building and conflict resolution in the communities.