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Environmental Monitoring: Eteo Laments Abandonment, calls for justice

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Environmental Monitoring: Eteo Laments Abandonment, calls for justice

By Katherine Abayomi, Port Harcourt

To boost community knowledge and raise awareness about the prevailing environmental challenges in communities, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) has trained twenty-five farmers in Eteo community in Eleme LGA of Rivers State. The training equipped farmers with the right knowledge to monitor the environment following the spill which occurred on the 13th of June 2023 leaving farmers devastated and abandoned.

Community persons were educated on steps to take when they notice a spill in their community pointing out obvious effects on their livestock and health in general, also noting the swift request for a Joint Investigation visit which must be done with the inclusion of community people.

HOMEF Programmes Manager Stephen Oduware noted that immediate restoration of the land is what the people need.

“We are here in Eteo community to have training session on environmental monitoring and restoration with the community people. We have had series of engagements with them but today we are here to have monitoring training on how best they will be able to monitor their environment, report effectively and carry out advocacy for justice to be done and served.”

Oduware further stated that “NOSDRA should ensure proper investigation on the land, noting that the people’s sources of livelihood have been destroyed because of the pollution on their land. It should be on record that I think that NODSRA and all other government regulatory agencies have not done well by not carrying out a joint investigative visit to find out what actually happened.”

Coordinator Oilwatch International, Kentebe Ebiraridor emphasised the importance of capacity building noting that it is a basic right for community farmers, and fishers to engage in monitoring and reporting. “Monitoring and reporting of the environment is something that constantly should be done, not just by journalists, not just by civil society organisations, but by community people because they are the first people to be impacted by what happens in their environment and they can be able to share such information. It is very important in any community and not just in the Niger Delta but anywhere that oil extraction and fossil fuel extraction is been done. And since it is not something they have been built for, they have to be taught through a period of time”

We think that it is a very sad situation because if the state-owned NNPC cannot respond immediately to claims of the community, then it’s something that we need to actually look at and understand in the wake of the current divestment that is currently going on. Because if we cannot hold our own local people accountable for atrocities and destruction they cause on the environment in local communities then it will be difficult for us to understand the processes of the divestment that is going on.” he said.

A community member Gabriel Carl recalled the oil spill of the NNPC pipeline on June 13, 2023, that has left the community’s farmland and Rivers affected, rendering the village handicapped of their livelihood.

“All authorities concerned should come and do a proper Joint Investigation Visit on the site,NNPC old pipes should be replaced, clean-up of the community should be done.”

He further retorted that it has made the youths, women, and men involved in farming and fishing lose their livelihood. This caused untold hardship in the community, the river has been a source of livelihood and survival for so many is polluted leaving them with no other option than to Sherlock water merchants who sell water to them at outrageous amount.

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