Women of the Niger Delta have been called upon to brace up and demand for environmental and climate justice, through the opportunity presented by Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre, in her annual Niger Delta Women Day of Action for Environmental Justice 2019 which was held at Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, with the theme ‘Building Women Resilience for Climate Action’
In the Keynote Address by Dr. Heoma Worlu, represented by Prof. Roibito Ekanem, she said that since 1956 when crude oil was discovered in commercial quantity in the present day Bayelsa state and in 1958 when the first oil exportation started, the Niger Delta region has continued to remain a wetland with delicate environment and has been of enormous economic, political and social importance to the Nigerian state.
She maintained that due to unfavorable alterations of the physical, chemical and biological balance of the environment, there were adverse effects on the normal functions of life including humans, as the presence of crude oil on our environment can bring death to the aquatic lives, birds of the air, animals on the land, unproductive land and gas flaring.
Other effects, she mentioned include; increasing rate of flooding and erosion, poor road network as a result of activities of international Oil Corporations (IOCs).
The Executive Director of Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre, Obonganwan Emem Okon, in her remarks said that every December 17th of the year was set aside for the Niger Delta Women to remind themselves, as stakeholders that issue of pollution and environmental degradation were still ongoing and that something ought to be done to proffer remedy to the situation.
She further reiterated the Organization’s Commitment to draw governments’ attention to the fact that many host communities still suffer impact of oil spillage and gas flaring, these manifestation leads to Climate change; flooding, erosion menace, change in weather conditions. She therefore urge government at all levels to take urgent steps to address the challenges.
Emem Okon said all that the organization was doing was aimed at strengthening the capacity of women to continue to lead a campaign and advocate for environmental and climate justice, while encouraging the women not to relent efforts till the region is totally cleaned.
The event received Solidarity messages from WoMIN, HoMEF, HYPREP, Civil Society Organizations, Government Ministries, agencies and departments, Several women groups from Niger Delta and groups from different African countries like Ghana, Senegal and South Africa.
Moving Forward, the Niger Delta Women made the following recommendations;
- That there’s need for Gender and Climate Action plans by the Government
- That communities should adopt a plant ‘10trees before you Cut One’ Policy to safeguard our environment from climate change occurrence.
- That women needs to understand their Power and use it to make respective demands and changes
- That government should set up effective policies for the Mitigation and Adaptation of Climate Change and such policies should include women in planning and execution.
- That both government and citizen should carry out sensitization on the effects, mitigation and adaption of Climate change
The Niger Delta women also thanked the funders of the event; Development & Peace, WoMIN, BothENDS and Ford Foundation for supporting the Niger Delta women in the fight against Climate Change.