The Nigeria Delta Wing: Focusing on the Niger Delta
The area which is described as the Niger Delta region of Nigeria lies between latitudes 40 and 60 North of the Equator and 40 and 809 East of the Greenwich. It comprises the states of Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo, Imo, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Abia and Ondo, making it coterminous with all of Nigeria’s oil producing states. Stretching over 20,000 km2 of swamp land in the litoral fringes of the country, it embraces one of the world’s largest wetlands, over 60% of Africa’s largest mangrove forests, and one of the worlds’ most extensive (Eyinla and Ukpo, 2006).
Comprising mainly of a distinct aquatic environment which embraces marine, brackish and fresh water ecosystems, it encompasses the most extensive fresh water swamp forest in West and Central Africa, and manifests an intricate network of creeks, rivers, streams, swamps, braided streams and Oxbow lakes, besides a stretch of flat and fertile land mass.
In this picturesque basin lives a kaleidoscope of ethnic nationalities which include among others, the Ijaw, Itsekiri, Urhobo, Ikwere, Andoni Efik, Ibibio, Kalabari, Okrika, together with sections of the Yoruba and Igbo. Among these, the Ijaw seems by far the largest. In this region also lies Nigeria’s over 35 billion barrels of proven oil reserves (Eyinla and Ukpo, 2006), besides an even larger deposit of natural gas. The region also accounts for over 80% of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product and represents the economic jugular of the country.
Oil spills and gas flaring are major sources of environmental damage and habitat loss in the Niger Delta, affecting local populations dependent on agriculture and fishing for their livelihoods. The erosion of these traditional livelihoods reduces the ability for people to recover from economic and environmental shocks, such as flooding. Pollution of air and water sources also damages the health of communities living nearby affected areas and recent research estimates that children are twice as likely to die in their first month of life if their mother lived near an oil spill before conception. This pollution is a result of poor operational standards from oil and gas companies, poor regulation and enforcement by government, pipeline sabotage, and crude oil theft.
The Nigeria Delta Wing will contribute to the functioning, development and maintenance of the Delta Alliance International organisation and network, through the following activities:
- Organise local activities with local wing partners and stakeholders that contribute to addressing the developmental challenges of the Niger Delta and the overall mission of Delta Alliance
- Actively contribute to acquiring funded projects for the wing partners, preferably in cooperation with partners from other Wings
- Earmark existing projects as Delta Alliance projects, if these projects fulfil Delta Alliance criteria to be determined on a case-to-case basis in cooperation with the Delta Alliance International Secretariat, and if agreed by the project’s partners and clients
- Participate in at least 1 international conference or activity per year, (co)organised by Delta Alliance International or one (or some) of the Wings
- Participate in meetings of the Delta Alliance Advisory Committee
- Actively contribute to knowledge dissemination in cooperation with the international secretariat, e.g. through the Delta Alliance website, brochures and other communication means