Human activities such as increased burning of fossil fuel, illegal oil refinery for oil theft that cause spillage are the largest source of emissions of carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons and radioactive materials to the environment in the Niger Delta region, which contributes to global warming, the green house effect and one of the causes of climate change.
Since the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantity in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria in 1950 as well as its exploration and exploitation as Nigeria’s major revenue earning product; an estimated 13 million barrels of crude oil have been spilled since 1958 with about 240,000 barrels spilled into the Niger delta environ yearly, with climatic effects that has contributed to the disease burden in oil-bearing communities of at least 25 million people with contamination of surface water, hydrocarbon poisoning and pollution of ambient air with black soothe including naturally occurring radioactive materials; causing deforestation with depletion of our rainforest, flood plains and mangrove forest, threat on marine wildlife and plants, soil infertility causing malnutrition from food insecurity, poor water quality with ingestion, dermal contact, and inhalation of constituents of spilled crude oil that causes severe impacts on the ecosystem and planetary health with increase incidence of respiratory infections, heart and lungs diseases, , infertility, prevalence of childhood killer diseases, infant mortality, infertility, cancer, mental illness, diarrhoea, sore eyes, itchy skin and occupational injuries, acute renal failure, conjunctivitis, mucositis, esophagitis, and chemical pneumonitis.
Our organization-the 360degreeHEALTH NETwork is a health advocacy civil society group that bridges the inequality gap in health care service distribution through free medical outreach in rural communities; engaging Nigerian government and health agencies to create health initiatives that would benefit underprivileged populations such as the disabled, children, pregnant women, elderly, victims of terrorist attack and the chronically ill. In 2016 however; we started partnership with other civil society organizations such as Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, hydrocarbon pollution remediation program and center for environment, human rights and development to organise a program on environmental friendliness in the Niger Delta, an advocacy programs that focuses on the education of youths against pipeline vandalization and illegal oil refining; we organize environmental sanitation, awareness campaigns, community-based pipeline surveillance, the promotion of alternative livelihood programmes, such as youth entrepreneurship programme, tree planting, free medical outreaches, human rights advocacy and engaging the government and oil companies to formulate policies that would protect the health of indeginous communities and set up initiatives to minimize impact of crude oil exploitation on the environment and to engage the government to fast track its plan to clean up the environmental damage caused by oil spillage.
MEASURABLE IMPACT OF OUR WORK IN CONSERVING THE ENVIRONMENT AND ON GLOBAL HEALTH?
- The 360degreehealth network have reported several cases of illegal oil refining and pipeline damage resulting to oil spillage and advocated for the Federal Government to take direct responsibility and take the lead on coordinating the activities of the many stakeholders involved in the conservation of our biodiversity; one of such advocacy led the Federal government in June 2016 to officially launch a clean-up programme following the 2011 United Nations Environment programme (UNEP) independent assessment report of the environmental, climatic and public health impacts of oil contamination in Ogoniland, of the Niger Delta, with options for remediation that if fully implemented would impact on the lives of about 1 million people in ogoni land in the future.
- Through our medical outreach programs; we have provided immediate and long-term medical care recommendation to ensure the adverse health effects of exposures to hydrocarbons from fossil fuels are properly addressed through comprehensive medical examination of everyone who has consumed contaminated water. Our health programme engages the government in promoting health equity across all regions of the Niger Delta.
- In collaboration with the center of environment, human rights and development; we organize entrepreneurial trainings to provide alternative livelihoods for young people; we have built the capacity of over 10,000 young people in the local community whose land and livelihood structures have been destroyed by oil spills and who are likely to engage in illegal oil refining. We have also taken up projects focusing on rural development and addressing the impact of human activities such as burning of fossil fuel on our climate.
- Through our program on environmental friendliness in Ogoni land; we have created awareness and engaged community members on the need for proactive advocacy that focuses on the protection and development of the environment, biodiversity conservation through activities such as tree planting to preserve our mangrove forests, flood plains and rainforests. In 2017; we collaborated with the National environmental standards and regulations enforcement agency to plant over 20,000 trees in Rivers State and Bayelsa State in Nigeria.
- In 2018; we partnered with the Hydrocarbon pollution and remediation project to pioneer the anti black sooth campaign to address the air pollution caused by burning of fossil fuels and illegal oil bunkery in River State.
We are targeting that in the next 5 years; 360degreeHEALTH NETwork will be leading the frontiers that will strengthen the collaborative efforts between government, oil and gas companies and communities to bring an end to all forms of oil contamination in the Niger Delta.