Friday, July 03, 2009

"Oil Industry Has Brought Poverty and Pollution to Niger Delta"

This essay is part of an occasional feature on this blog that presents compelling stories from elsewhere in the world, particularly Africa, that are little reported in the American media. It's part of my campaign to get people to realize there is a lot going on in the world outside the US, IsraelStine and the Trumped Up Enemy of the Month. A list of all pieces in this series can be found found here..

Amnesty International recently issued a damning report on the manner in which the oil industry has destroyed Nigeria's Niger Delta Region. The title says it all: "Oil Industry Has Brought Poverty and Pollution to Niger Delta."

The Amnesty report notes: The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) describes the region as suffering from “administrative neglect, crumbling social infrastructure and services, high unemployment, social deprivation, abject poverty, filth and squalor, and endemic conflict.” This poverty, and its contrast with the wealth generated by oil, has become one of the world’s starkest and most disturbing examples of the “resource curse”.

Oil has generated an estimated US$600 billion since the 1960s. Despite this, many people in the oil-producing areas have to drink, cook with and wash in polluted water, and eat fish contaminated with oil and other toxins.

“More than 60 per cent of people in the region depend on the natural environment for their livelihood,” said Audrey Gaughran “Yet, pollution by the oil industry is destroying the vital resource on which they depend.”

Oil pollution kills fish, their food sources and fish larvae, and damages the ability of fish to reproduce, causing both immediate damage and long-term harm to fish stocks. Oil pollution also damages fishing equipment.

Oil spills and waste dumping have also seriously damaged agricultural land. Long-term effects include damage to soil fertility and agricultural productivity, which in some cases can last for decades. In numerous cases, these long-term effects have undermined a family’s only source of livelihood.

The destruction of livelihoods and the lack of accountability and redress have led people to steal oil and vandalize oil infrastructure in an attempt to gain compensation or clean-up contracts.



Black Looks blog has written quite extensively on the catastrophe as well...

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