From: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja
EMEM Okon, the Executive Director of Kebetkache Woman and Development Resource says women are among the most vulnerable group affected by environmental impact of gas flaring and oil spills in the Niger Delta region.
Okon disclosed this at a strategy meeting organised in partnership with the MacArthur Foundation and Women Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.
She said the programme was to develop tools for stakeholders engagement on gender and accountability issues as it affects the environment, particularly to realise a safe and clean environment in the region.
Aside, Okon noted the gesture would help amplify voices of major stakeholders including the vulnerable groups such that they could engage with relevant government agencies and organization for the purpose of achieving clean environment.
According to her, the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) has done programs on different issues such as open government partnership and impact of flooding on women among others.
Earlier, Mrs Bunmi Dipo-Salomi, WRAPA Project Advisor, in her speech expressed shock at the level of poverty in the country due to corruption, saying Nigeria as a country is rich but people are poor due to mismanagement and corruption, especially as it affects the environment, which mostly also affect the women.
She decried level of pollution in the Niger-Delta and how it affects the people daily.
According to her, despite extra allocations to the Niger Delta states and setting up of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), people are still suffering due to corruption and lack of gender inclusion.
However, she expressed optimism over possible changes if the people could mobilize themselves against the menace of corruption in the society and engage relevant government agencies to foster a clean environment.
At the presentation of the Resource Person, Barrister Chima Williams enumerated various tools stakeholders could adopt to engage on gender and accountability issues particularly on the clean environment. These include advocacy, public trust, litigation, protest and research among others.
She also criticised the current National Water Resources Bill at the National Assembly saying, the Bill is anti-people.
She, however, advised the public to reject the Bill in totality.
The participants further advocated for a clean and corrupt free environment as a panacea for food security in the region.
The women group expressed shock that in Ogbemaa community in Abua Local Government Area for instance, women contribute money to repair road to their farm plantations.
Highlight of the event was the presentations of a six point communique and the setting up of gender and accountability task force to track report of incidents of corruption against women in the Niger Delta.