The Lekeh Development Foundation (LEDEF) is a grassroots based advocacy organization that works with communities to address local and global challenges in a constructive manner.
LEDEF was created by a team of ecological defenders trained by Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) to monitor, verify and report issues in the field of oil spills, gas flaring, water related issues, land grabs and violation of environmental/human rights in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Our themes include climate justice, energy justice, gender justice and livelihood support. We have several years of cumulative experience in the field, in advocacy, in campaigning on climate change, devastated environments and on environmental crises. The LEDEF has championed grassroots struggles demanding climate justice, a clean environment, Water not Coal and Life After Coal, and has been working with other organizations to strengthen the local struggle to ensure that the community voice is heard. LEDEF is a community rooted advocacy organization that strongly works to promote human rights and end fossil fuels, black soot, gas flaring, climate change, waste related issues, poverty, and other environmental degradation issues.
The Niger Delta is a large area of southern Nigeria. It is home to 31 million people of more than 40 ethnic groups, although what states are often included in the Niger Delta varies. The core states are Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo, Abia, Imo, and Ondo are also included in the definition of the Niger Delta region where most of our work is focused. The Niger Delta is biodiverse, with its mangroves providing carbon sequestration capacity and supporting a wide variety of plant and animal life, as well as the agriculture and fishing on which many in the region rely for their livelihoods.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, has a key role to play in delivering the aims of the Paris Agreement and sustainable development in Africa. Today, one fifth of Africans, some 200 million people, are Nigerians. The World Bank projection is that Nigeria will become the world’s third most populous country by 2050 with over 400 million people. As a country that is both highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and also one of the largest emitters of GHG emissions across Africa, Nigeria has an important grassroots leadership role to play.
There is no doubt that oil has been of great benefit to the Nigerian state and the people as a whole but the oil pollution caused by spillages from the oil industry located primarily in the Niger Delta region has caused the massive destruction to farmlands, sources of drinking water, mangrove forest, fishing grounds and declination of fish, crabs, mollusks, periwinkles and birds. Large areas of mangrove forest have been destroyed over a wide area affecting terrestrial and marine resources. Some past spills have necessitated the complete relocation of some communities, loss of ancestral homes, pollution of fresh water, loss of forest and agricultural land, destruction of fishing grounds and reduction of fish population, which is the major source of income for the Niger Delta people. There are 500 fields in the Niger Delta and 131 flaring sites. Gas flaring is the second most destructive environmental pollutant in the Niger Delta after oil spillage. The environment has been devastated by pollution from Shell’s operations, and Nigeria has recorded 4919 oil spills within six years with uncontrolled gas flaring in Ogoniland. The destruction caused by oil and gas facilities has caused huge economic losses, the Minister for Environment said.
In 2011, The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said the Ogoni environment could take 30-35 years to recover fully from the loss and damage caused by years of oil spills. UNEP documented the devastating long-term impact of the oil industry in Nigeria’s Ogoniland, setting out urgent recommendations for a clean-up. However, the systematic failure of oil companies and the Nigerian government to clean up has left hundreds of thousands of Ogoni people facing serious health risks, struggling to access safe drinking water and unable to earn a living. Ogoni Communities still consume water with high levels of benzene, of about 900 times above World Health Organisation (WHO) acceptable levels, leaving communities facing a severe health risk. The UNEP report of 2017 stated that “Some areas, which appear unaffected at the surface, are in reality severely contaminated underground and action to protect human health and reduce the risks to affected communities should occur without delay. In at least 10 Ogoni communities where drinking water is contaminated with high levels of hydrocarbons, public health is seriously threatened.”
The region has also gained the dubious fame of being one of the top ten most polluted places on Earth. The state of neglect is compounded by years of pollution from fossil industries. Oil has been explored and commercially extracted in the Niger Delta since 1958. With fossil fuels driving climate change and surely entering its last phase as a dominant energy source, the situation of the Ogoni in Niger Delta region requires urgent climate attention. The extraction activities by multinational companies including Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Elf and Agip have caused serious environmental and social damage in the Niger Delta, an oil rich South-Eastern region of Nigeria. Crude oil extraction has caused the pollution of the river basin and surrounding land, the destruction of subsistence crops, and the expropriation of local residents’ territory. The opposition of local communities has been brutally repressed by police forces, resulting in bloodshed and hundreds of deaths. Chevron, Agip, Total, Indorama, Pan Ocean, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) together with Shell and other oil companies are currently operating in the Niger Delta region of the country. The ongoing fossil fuel extractive has led to extensive environmental degradation including the contamination of air, water, and soil which continue to negatively affect the health of local communities, this is despite the country being party to the Paris Agreement which is an incredible opportunity for Nigeria to follow the path of Low Carbon Development, which will in turn facilitate sustainable development. Nigeria, being one of the largest economies in Africa, should be a beacon for other African states by accelerating its plans towards a rapid, just transition towards embracing 100% renewable energy.
The overall goal of the project is to work together to promote climate action by uniting Niger Delta grassroots leaders’ voices to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
- Strengthening Niger Delta Coalition action towards achieving climate justice and a just transition to renewable sources of energy.
- Create awareness on the negative impacts of fossil fuel/climate change in Nigeria.
- To organize a three-day Niger Delta Climate Change Conference. Topics to be discussed include:
- The position of Niger Delta grassroots leaders at COP28.
- The impacts of climate change on livelihood and food security.
- Develop Niger Delta plan to mitigate and adapt for climate change.
- Address loss and damage from the recent flooding from climate change.
- Contribute towards the achievement of Nigeria NDC and just transitional plan.
- Discussion on what could be done to limit temperature rises and climate change.
- Creating awareness on the negative impacts of fossil fuel extraction and climate change on women and people living in Niger Delta. Campaign message include:
- Don’t gas Nigeria
- No more fossil fuel projects anywhere in Nigeria
- Clean up your mess in Niger Delta
- Sustained pressure on the targets to take climate action towards mitigating the impacts of climate change.
- Enhanced awareness of the dangers of climate change on health and economic activities.
Beneficiaries of the project shall be the women and youth of marginalized communities, policy makers, environmental activists, human rights activists, climate activists, CSOs, civil society actors, Students, gender campaigners, eco ambassadors, community leaders, representatives from the ministry of environment, and local government legislature.
The project will commence from 10th of March 2023 to 30th of September 2023. The day of action for direct peaceful climate movement tagged keeping 1.5oC within reach and accelerating the phase out of fossil fuels now will be used to mark world environment day on 5th of June, 2023.
The timeframe has been chosen to ensure we work with World Environment Day, since our project is on environment and climate change.