Community Development Projects or Environmental Protection: What Matters Most to Oil-producing Host Communities in the Niger Delta, Nigeria?

By Caroline Gallagher, Marcus Ogwu Edino, Craig Thomson and Leonard S. Bombom.

Published by The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Nigeria produces about 2.7 million barrels of crude oil per day which makes it the largest crude oil producer in Africa. This natural resource, which accounts for over 80% of the country’s revenue, is solely produced in the Niger Delta region. The UNDP (2006) in its Niger Delta Human Development Report described the region as suffering from “administrative neglect, crumbling social infrastructure and services, high unemployment, social deprivation, abject poverty, filth, squalor and endemic conflict.” Determined to build a better relationship aimed at creating an enabling environment for business, the Nigerian government and oil multinational corporations embarked on a number of community development projects. Laudable as these projects appear to be, the oil producing host communities are largely unimpressed. Why is it that a lot appears to be done in terms of community development projects in the Niger Delta and yet agitations, militarism and political unrest continue to be the order of the day? There are currently great agitations for the former to address poverty and improve lives disrupted by environmental degradation; and the latter as a result of sustained environmental degradation spanning over five decades of oil discovery. The dilemma before multinational oil corporations and the Nigerian government therefore is which way to go. This paper therefore critically examines the preference of host communities for community development projects and environmental protection. 750 questionnaires were administered to heads of households in four host communities in the Niger Delta while 630 (84%) were successfully retrieved in addition to interviews and focus group sessions. The findings suggested that the current system does not enjoy the people’s support. The host communities therefore advocated a need for appropriate strategies to be put in place to protect the environment in addition to provision of social amenities and other community development initiatives.

Keywords: Community Development, Environment Protection, Environmental Problems, Niger Delta, Corporate Social Responsibility, Crude Oil

The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp.49-68. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.301MB).

Dr. Caroline Gallagher

Senior Lecturer, School of Engineering and Built Environment, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK

Academic expertise lies within the areas of Health, Safety and Environmental Management, Environmental Impact Assessment and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Caroline is actively involved in applied research that informs policy and practice. Her main interests lie in the area of urban regeneration and the role that community renewable projects can play in achieving this end as well as the importance of greenspace in an urban setting. The Castlemilk windfarm project is a prime example of urban regeneration and renewable energy: Caroline developed the initiative from a desktop study to one that now involves a whole community. She has also carried out similar studies for the Scout Movement, a Country Park as well as a rural community.

Dr. Marcus Ogwu Edino

PhD Research Student, School of Engineering and Built Environment, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK

Marcus Ogwu Edino is a PhD student at the Glasgow Caledonian University (UK) with the School of Engineering and Built Environment. He obtained an MSc in Energy and Environmental Management at the same institution in 2008, and won the Valpak Prize for the best graduating student. Prior to this, he obtained an MTech in Geography with Environmental Pollution and Waste Management from the Federal University of Technology (Minna, Nigeria), as well as a BSc in Geography from the University of Jos (Nigeria). A Petroleum Technology Development Fund scholar, Edino was named one of the 30 most outstanding black students in Britain in 2010. In 2011, he was a regional runner up in the British Council's International Student of the Year Shine Award and a recipient of the 2012 Sustainability Graduate Scholar award at the 8th Sustainability conference, Robson Square, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. He equally received the Glasgow Caledonian University’s teaching excellence award in the category of teaching that inspires and motivates learning in 2012. Edino’s research interests include: geographies of development in the global south; poverty and international development; corporate social responsibility; climate change (adaptation and mitigation); energy and sustainability; environmental impact assessment; health and safety; energy security; governance of the extractive sectors; and corruption. His research focus is on sustainability issues with respect to primary commodities, especially crude oil and other natural resources. Such work involves dealing with the environmental, social and economic impact of natural resource exploitation and the sustainable livelihood of communities who are host to these commodities. Edino teaches environmental policy and legislation; corporate sustainability; and health and safety at the university. Outside academics, Marcus loves football, charity work and public speaking.

Craig Thomson

Lecturer, School of Engineering and Built Environment., Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK

Dr. Craig Thomson MA, MRes, PhD; holds an undergraduate Geography degree, where he developed an interest in urban development and regeneration. Following this he spent five years with the Construction Management Research Unit (CMRU) at the University of Dundee where he completed both an MRes and a PhD working in areas of project management, construction innovation, knowledge management, the influence of design and management within social housing on tenant behaviour, maintenance management. He worked in local government, prior to joining GCU in 2006 as a Research Fellow and became a Lecturer in 2011 in the area of sustainability and the built environment. His research interests are primarily in the built environment in the areas of sustainability assessment; sustainability as a driver for innovation; and in the promotion of learning amongst practitioners about sustainability. He has been involved in two large UK EPSRC projects SUEMoT and SURegen; and ERDF NPP project NEES which aims to promote near to market building products or processes in the region. Recent work has focused on looking at how knowledge management can help support Housing Associations delver sustainability during Planned Work projects.

Dr. Leonard S. Bombom

PhD Candidate and Teaching Associate, Department of Geography, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Stillwater, USA

Leonard S. Bombom is a PhD Candidate and Teaching Associate in the department of Geography, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, USA. He has a B.Sc in Geography and Planning (Second Class, Upper) and two Master’s degrees in Environmental and Resources Planning, and in Geography from the University of Jos, Nigeria and University of Northern Iowa, USA respectively. His research interests are in GIS applications in Urban and Transportation Planning, Environmental Resources Management, Time geography and Activity Analysis. He has also published in several reputable journals. Leonard lectures in the Department of Geography and Planning, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Jos, Nigeria.