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Environmental Pollution: HOMEF Promise To Stand By Affected Communities In Bayelsa. By Chris Mark

Environmental Pollution: HOMEF Promise To Stand By Affected Communities In Bayelsa

Abeni Aso-Oke

An ecological think tank organization advocating for environmental, climate Justice and food sovereignty in Nigeria and Africa at large known as Health of Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, has engaged no fewer than fourteen communities at the HOMEF community diagnostic dialogue.

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The community diagnostic dialogue which took place on Wednesday 10th April at the Twon Bras community Town hall Bayelsa state, was for HOMEF to take note of existential environmental challenges faced by communities.

Upon arrival the HOMEF team first visited Twon Bras Council of Chief to intimate them on the purpose of the visit before moving to the Town hall to meet with the people who are majorly fishermen and women from the various Communities.

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While addressing the people, Mr Stephen Oduware, HOMEF Program Manager, said the organization work is to bridge yawning gap between policy decisions made by government and the actual needs at the grassroots.

Oduware, who decried the high level of environmental challenges faced by the people, said there are also issues of pollution, that’s not just from introduction platforms but also from loading fascilities such as the AITEO loading vessels of the coast which he said is causing a lot of spill affecting the environment.

According to Oduware, HOMEF came to sit together to analyze the environmental condition and together to talk about the needed action for the communities to identify .

” We are here to show solidarity and to join in that call that this voices must be heard and attended to.” He emphasized.

In his remark, the Project Manager, Environmental Right Action, ERA, Comrade Alagoa Morris, commended HOMEF for enlightening the communities about environment safety for sustainability and the need to report observations that are not inline, to relevant agencies such as the Media and Civil Society.

Morris, who frowned at situations where oil companies act with impunity said that Civil Society Organizations, CSO, will not relent until the menace is tackled, while also calling on government and regulatory bodies to ensure companies works within the confines of the law.

The ERA Project Manager, stressed on the need for a safe and sustainable environment where people of communities will go about their businesses without hindrances, also where means of livelihood will be protected.

He however called on the people as well not to be antagonistic to the environment such as not engaging in harmful practice nor the use of chemicals in their fishing operation, adding that they should not also contribute in polluting the environment.

Some of the community fishermen and women who share thier personal experiences on day to day challenges they face, as a result of the degraded environment called on the government and the companies to come to their aid as live as become unbearable to them.

Chief Tomogha Ere-Walson, PRO Okpoama Kingdom Council who narrated his experience said that the environmental hazard is enormous and has created severe hardship to him and his family, hence he can no longer go for fishing due to the pollution of the river.

He said “Okpoama area has 33 oil wells and the last oil well they drilled was in 1964, you could see that it has taken long, and it has eroded the whole ecosystem, and every 3 months we are experiencing oil spillage, we will shout, government will come out, seal the place, that same place, it will come out in another form.

“ThankGod they have never accused the community that we are sabotaging, but because of the length of time, those irons has stayed, it’s degrading the ecosystem to nothing, we can kill fish anymore.”

He proffered for government to form an economic base such that the fishermen will be in cooperative with trusted personal leading the corporative, so they can buy nets, hooks, boats etc for their business to strive.

On her part, Mrs Ada Amakiri, a Fisher woman from Ewo-Ama who said she and husband do go for fishing but since the river got polluted they no longer go for fishing and that has made life very difficult for them.

She also appealed to government and relevant agencies to come to their aid so they can leave a normal life.

Communities that Participated at the HOMEF Community Diagnostic Dialogue includes:Twon-Brass, Okpoama, Ewoama, Nembe, Kpongbokiri, Fantuo
Opuorubo, Beletieama, Imbikiri, Egweama, Liama, Odioma, Sangana, Nembe Creek.

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