For a Safer Earth, Healthier Climate

“Oil Spills Have Brought Poverty And Hardship” Community Cries Out

By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja

The people of Odimodi Community in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State have resolved to speak against the environmental damages and resultant poverty caused by the activities of Shell in their community.

This was made known during a Capacity Building Program and Media Tour by a non-governmental organization under the aegis of Community Development Advocacy Foundation (CODAF), organized to equip the community members, especially the women, with the requisite knowledge of their environmental rights and how to communicate their advocacy message to the world.

While introducing the CODAF team to the leadership of the community, the Executive Director of CODAF, Richard Benin stated that the international community is interested in the story of Odimodi people and how the oil activities of multi nationals have negatively affected their land, adding that the best way to tell the stories of the oil spills, chemical damages and environmental degradation is through the eyes of the people who have directly suffered the consequences of crude oil activities.

A CODAF Staff sensitizing community members

The Vice Chairman of Odimodi Community, Chief Isepagha Willie who received the CODAF delegation, appreciated the organization for its concerns and efforts to help the people of Odimodi.

He lamented that the activities of Shell have destroyed both land and aquatic life, which are the life source of the Odimodi people.

Also speaking to the CODAF media team, the Chairperson of Odimodi women, Mrs. Silver Michael stated that despite the destruction of their environment, Shell has done very little to help the people who have lost their sources of livelihood.

Mrs. Micheal said: “Their oil is suffering to us. We are suffering. We can no longer fish to train our children because the oil has destroyed everything. We are dying of hunger. We can no longer pick periwinkles. We cannot fish or farm to train our children. We do not have portable drinking water …”

She further revealed that the community had registered its concerns with Shell, without any response. She called on the government, the media and other NGOs to join voices and save the people of Odimodi.

A number of Odimodi women who spoke lamented over the effects of the oil activities. Some of the women had contracted ailments and infractions due to the high level of crude oil in their farmlands, their waters, and all over their environment.

Further expressing the damages of oil spills. the former Public Relations Officer of Odimodi Community, Mr. Godwin Awese took the CODAF team to his farmlands to give visual descriptions of what the people are facing.

Mr. Awese lamented that his farmlands which used to produce large quantities of plantain, cassava and watermelon had become unproductive after the oil spill, as stunted plantain and cassava stems were all that could be found on the farmland.

While speaking on Shell’s Compensation to the community after the spills, Mr. Awese said: “How can I feed my family with one basket of rice and one basket of beans? Shell came and took pictures of our farmlands and left without taking any action. Sharing rice and beans is not enough compensation. We want the shell to provide us with fertilizer for our farms and also clean up the oil from our lands”.

Odimodi is a community in the Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, with an estimated population of five thousand (5000) people whose basic source of livelihood is fishing, farming, and petty trading.

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