A Report Submitted to Open Knowledge Foundation
By Lekeh Development Foundation
Communities in Nigeria’s Niger Delta are among the most degraded communities in the world. Ogoni has become symbolic and a metaphor for degraded environments; the impacts can easily be felt on land, water bodies and the air. This has led to various problems ranging from environmental, socio-cultural, and then, to health issues.
With these in mind, there is need for adequate monitoring of the environment and more so, data transparency. This will require capacity building and constant engagements with community people to empower them with the knowledge and the right tools needed for effective monitoring and advocacy for a better, cleaner, and healthier environment.
The Open Data Day activity carried out by Lekeh Development Foundation (with supports from Open Knowledge Foundation) afforded the opportunity to purchase a digital air quality monitoring device and train critical stakeholders on the use, deploy and the need to organize for advocacy to entrench a clean and healthy environment for the Ogoni people.
To train Ogoni community people on practical air quality monitoring for effective environmental management.
With support from Open Knowledge Foundation, Lekeh Development Foundation (LEDEF) implemented the awarded project titled Building Community Capacity for Effective Air Quality Monitoring. The grant helped to train Goi – Ogoni community people on the need for regular air quality monitoring. Goi is one of the communities in the four local government area that make up Ogoni. This community has been almost practically sacked due to massive air, land and water pollution as a result of the activities of oil and gas companies.
40 participants made up of climate defenders, environmental/human rights activists, members of coastal communities and key stakeholders were carefully selected and trained on air note device and practical air quality monitoring for effective environmental management and advocacy. Presentations were on: Air quality reading for advocacy, engagement and campaign at the local, state and national level. Practical demonstration on how to take reading and use the air quality monitor and impact of air quality monitoring on health and wellness.
The meeting strengthened the capacity of community persons by increasing their knowledge on environmental data collection, protect themselves and the environment in general. The open data day of action was used to strengthen the capacity of 40 Ogoni coastal community people to know how to detect when the air is polluted with the help of the air note device.
Also, in the meeting, it was established that because there exist an intrinsic relationship between community people and the environment; any alteration in the environment’s quality will translate to an alteration in the wellbeing of the people and hence, they cannot be a successful people without a healthy air and the environment.
Nnenna Obike Oviebor, during her presentation noted that the air quality note is an apt tool that should be deployed in all areas of air pollution to actual get the real data and extent of air pollution. These data could serve as evidences and points of advocacy to bring about the needed action for the wellbeing of community people.
A participant, Gold Melody appreciated the organizer and funder of the project for enlightening them on air quality management. Melody said there is need for coastal Ogoni communities where oil spills and gas flaring is becoming a normal incident to monitor the air and have the device installed at a strategic points in each community. She further solicited for the device to be installed in every community and local government in Ogoni
Moses NumBari contributed that the training is like an eye opener that can help to reduce air borne related diseases and other respiratory illness ravaging the environment as a result of the soot, climate change and extractive industries in the areas.
LeBari Baridakara who work with local government authority appealed for the air note devices to be donated to the local government authority for climate change unit for in situ air quality monitoring for record keeping at the local government level.
We hope to further engage 10 volunteers who be monitoring the instrument for bi-weekly and monthly analysis of the data. These data will be compared with allowable limits and the outcomes will be shared with the local government authorities within Ogoni. This will help drive the advocacy for a needed action.
Challenges and Lessons Learned
While executing the activity, we realized how important it was to acquire and deploy more of the digital air quality device for community environmental monitoring and management. There was shared zeal on the part of community people to learn about the quality of air they breathe.
There will be need to take the training to all of the oil and gas impacted communities in the four local government areas that make up Ogoni; where there are massive pollution.
Our Allies and Networks
To further amplify the need for air quality monitoring and open data, we collaborated with some media houses and civil society organizations and these include:
- Social Action
- Local Government Authorities in Ogoni
- Nigeria Coal Network
- Nada For Girls and Women Initiative