Adrift fortunes: testimonies of women in oil polluted communities in the Niger Delta.
Oil pollution in the Niger Delta is widespread and its impact on the total environment is well documented. However, impact of oil pollution on women in the Niger Delta is grossly understudied and poorly documented. Yet, Women are more exposed to environmental changes because of a number of cultural and socio-economic factors such as keen dependence on natural resources, land right exclusion and patriarchal dominance in decision-making. They bear the burden of caring for families and depend mostly on the natural environment for livelihoods. The primary sources of livelihood of women in the Niger Delta include fishing, gathering of seafood, fuel wood and subsistence farming. These livelihood structures depend on endowment of the natural environment.
The present research unravels how oil pollution from multiple sources, including artisanal refineries, impact on women in the region. It focused on selected communities in Bayelsa and Rivers States. The study used primary and secondary data. Primary data were obtained through questionnaires, Focus Group Discussion (FGD), Key Informant Interviews (KII) and site observations. Secondary data were generated from extant literature on impact of oil pollution on communities in the Niger Delta. Findings indicated women in the Niger Delta struggle daily to grapple with the effects of oil pollution, loss of livelihoods, battered reproductive health, heightening social vices, and erosion of their cultural heritage. The research proffered recommendations to broad spectrum of stakeholders, particularly the federal and state governments, international and indigenous oil companies and the local communities.
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