Women from the Niger Delta demand Shell to end pollution of air and water
Communities in the Niger Delta have been affected by air and water pollution due to Shell's activities for decades. This year, at Royal Dutch Shell's annual meeting, Kebetkache Women's Resource and Development Centre held Shell accountable for the consequences of their activities. Clean-up of oil spillages and ending gas flaring is becoming even more urgent in the fight against COVID-19, in which clean water is crucial to prevent the spread of the virus.
COVID-19 forces us all to change our way of working and find new and innovative ways to meet, discuss and continue life as usual. Like any other company, Royal Dutch Shell organized their Annual Shareholder Meeting in May 2020 via webcast.
Shell continues operations in Niger Delta during COVID-19 crisis
In the run up to May 13th and May 19th, COVID-19 measurements took over the world, incited states of emergencies, curfews and lockdowns, including in Nigeria's Niger Delta – one of Shell's oldest, most disturbing and troubled areas of oil production in the world. The Nigerian Federal government urged people to work from home. However, it soon became known that oil platforms and gas flaring activities continued business as usual, flying workers in and out with helicopters. Community women in Rivers State noted that "Shell is still working because Shell's vehicles are still moving about as if nothing has happened."
To prevent the spread of the virus, Nigeria's governments also urged people to wash their hands and ensure hygienic measures. Even if oil company- or government provided boreholes of water are in place and work, as a result of decades of oil spillage and gas flaring throughout the Niger Delta, rivers, streams and creeks are polluted by oil, borehole water taste of crude and rain water is acidic and not fit for drinking. The continuous gas flaring increases lung diseases, skin rashes and cancer and women suffers from maternal health issues. The average life expectancy of people growing up in the Niger Delta is 47 years. In this context, where especially women and children are vulnerable, a possible spread of COVID-19 could be disastrous and puts people in even more immediate risk.
Nigerian women ask Shell to take its responsibility to clean up the Delta
Emem Okon, Director of Kebetkache Women's Resource and Development Centre, based in Port Harcourt and dedicated to support women affected by gas flaring and oil spillage in all nine states of Nigeria's Niger Delta since 2004, asked questions during the Shell Shareholder Engagement Webcast on May 13th also on behalf of Gbogbia Feefeelo and Women Initiative on Climate Change. They aim to make Shell and its shareholders aware of the issue of air and water pollution in the Niger Delta, and its effects on women and children's health, especially in the light of COVID-19.
"In this time of COVID-19, Niger Delta community members are at high risk. How are community members able to access clean water to wash hands and live safely? Particularly women experience additional burden as they bear primary responsibility of household water management. Access to water is one of the Sustainable Development Goals. When is Shell planning to commence full remediation of environment impacted by their activities? What measures are you adopting to address water pollution in the Niger Delta and meet the global goal of clean water and sanitation for all (SDG 6)?"
Shell answered that it had limited its clean-up activities in Ogoniland due to COVID-19 measures. However it continues its other operations in other areas of the Delta. The Niger Delta women's organisations therefore ask Shell to set its priorities straight and demand it continues the remediation activities first and foremost to ensure access to clean environment and restoration of livelihood.
Stop the gas flaring
Continued oil production and gas flaring is happening in Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta states. Shell's activities have contributed to the lack of access to clean water in the Niger Delta. Rivers, streams and creeks are polluted by oil; borehole water taste of crude; rain water is acidic and not fit for drinking. The gas flaring increases health problems, such as increased lung diseases, skin rashes and cancer. The average life expectancy of people growing up in the Niger Delta is 47 years, and women suffer effects on their maternal health.
Ms. Okon therefore questioned Shell on the issue of water pollution in the Niger Delta as a result of spillage of oil from Shell extractive ventures into rivers and creeks in communities in the Niger Delta and the refusal of Shell to end gas flaring in Niger Delta communities.
"The Shell gas flare site at Imiringi in Bayelsa state is just beside a Federal Government Girls College in Imiringi. Shell has been flaring toxic gases from this location for many decades. This is inhuman and very insensitive to the impacts on the health of women and girls in the school and the entire Imiringi community. What measures has Shell adopted to mitigate the impacts of the flare on the students and teachers of this school? What investigations has Shell made to investigate the impacts of Shell's actions to rural communities, particularly women? When does Shell plan to end gas flaring in the Niger Delta?"
In its response Shell claimed that "the SPDC joint venture (30% Shell) has significantly reduced continuous flaring from its operations, embarking on Associated Gas Gathering Solutions since Year 2000. The flaring data is disclosed in our sustainability report. In respect to the specific location mentioned [Imiringi], it is important to note that gas flaring has reduced by more than 98% since Year 2011, averaging 13 ton CO2 equivalent per year compared to 790 ton CO2 equivalent per year in the preceding 5 years prior to implementation of the flare reduction strategy." Shell furthermore stated that "the school in question is more than 2km from the nearest Shell facility emission source, and significantly lies outside the range of distances of 200 meters intervals away from the installation along the direction of the prevailing wind as per regulatory guideline (EGASPIN) for air quality monitoring."
Although this data is accurate, this does not mean that the effects of gas flaring do not reach the young girls going to school in Imiringi and that Shell needs to be held accountable for their stock in the quality of air in various states throughout the Delta, including Imiringi.
Shell states it aims to end gas flaring by 2030. That's 10 more years of severe air pollution to our communities. Kebetkache Women's Resource and Development Centre, Gbogbia Feefeelo and Women Initiative on Climate Change have demanded this for years and ask it again: stop gas flaring immediately!
Taking equal responsibility for air and water pollution through the Delta
Shell has responded to some of the questions, but the women from the Niger Delta are not satisfied and will continue their fight for their right to clean water and environmental justice.
Next to ensuring the continuous clean-up of Ogoniland, they demand that Shell takes action to address the issues of water pollution, loss of livelihood and gas flaring in other Niger Delta states like Akwa-Ibom State, Bayelsa State and Delta State, and takes responsibility for the environment and the lives of people in all regions in which they operate equally.
Kebetkache Women's Resource and Development Centre is supported in its struggle by the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA)
Read more about this subject
Everything becomes fluid under pressure: behind the scenes in Corona time
In these times of worldwide lockdown all attention is focused on the care sector, on the sorrow of those who are losing their loved ones, on children getting home-schooling and the neighbour who can no longer go the supermarket herself. Politicians and civil servants are hard at work trying to control the COVID-19 crisis and the economic crisis it has caused.
Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA)
GAGGA rallies the collective power of the women's rights and environmental justice movements to realize a world where women can and do access their rights to water, food security, and a clean, healthy and safe environment.
News / 19 May 2020
Effective strategy to tackle COVID-19 calls for a global reset
On Monday 11 May, at the government's request, the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) published an emergency advisory report on how the Netherlands can make an effective contribution to the worldwide fight against the Corona virus. Together with companies, scientists and environmental, human rights and development organisations, Both ENDS is today presenting a response to this report, in which we make a number of suggestions for investing in countries and people with insufficient resources to tackle the crisis effectively.
Blog / 28 May 2020
South American organisations are pushing back their boundariesBy Daniëlle Hirsch and Eva Schmitz
The Rio de la Plata Basin in South America extends across Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. The livelihoods of the millions of people who live there – city-dwellers, small farmers and fishers, and indigenous peoples – are under pressure from soya cultivation, mining and logging, and by the construction of dams and ports. The COVID-19 crisis is making the situation even worse.
Publication / 15 March 2023
News / 23 March 2020
Women in Latin America claim their right to water
In many places in Latin America, access to clean water is under great pressure from overuse and pollution, often caused by large-scale agriculture or mining. This has significant impact, especially on women. In March, with International Women's Day on March 8 and World Water Day on March 22, they make themselves heard and claim their right to water.
News / 8 March 2021
GAGGA launches “We, Women are Water” campaign 2021
On International Women's Day (March 8th) the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA) will launch the "We, Women are Water" campaign to highlight women's role, demands and actions in ensuring water security in the face of climate change.
Publication / 2 November 2021
Publication / 8 March 2018
News / 8 March 2018
Only 0.2 % of all foundation funding for women & environment
Women around the globe are at the forefront of addressing the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation, designing, implementing, and scaling up their own solutions. Socially defined gender roles often position women and girls as stewards of the physical, economic, and cultural well-being of their communities.
News / 7 August 2018
Indigenous women fight dams in Guatemala
Communities from Northern Guatemala have filed a complaint this week against the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). They bear the brunt of the construction of two large hydropower dams in the Ixquisis region, that are co-financed by the IDB. This is against the bank's own policies on environment and sustainability, indigenous people, gender, and information disclosure.
External link / 31 May 2018
Harnessing the power of the women’s rights and environmental justice movements (Annual Report 2017)
It was minus 20 degrees Celsius when 2.000 women gathered at the main square of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, to voice their distress about the terrible smog in the city caused by three large power plants. Soon after, the women were invited to speak about the problem of air pollution with the minister of environment.
Event / 23 March 2023, 13:15 - 14:30
Making finance for gender just water and climate solutions a reality!
The UN Water Conference is an important event that brings together stakeholders from around the world to discuss water and climate solutions. This year, GAGGA is organizing a side event during the conference that you won't want to miss!
On Thursday March 23rd, from 1.15 -2.30 pm, GAGGA will present their commitment to support, finance, and promote locally rooted, gender just climate and water solutions within the Water Action Agenda. This event will inspire other stakeholders to join in their commitment, while presenting inspiring examples of such solutions presented by local women from Nepal, Kenya, Paraguay, Mexico, and Nigeria.
Publication / 26 November 2020
News / 8 March 2019
Campaign "We, women are water" launched on International Women's Day
During the month of March, and as part of International Women's Day (March 8th) and World Water Day (March 22nd), the organizations that constitute GAGGA-Latin America, will lead a joint campaign called "We, women are water".
News / 3 June 2020
Green light for FGG and GAGGA!
Last Friday, 29 May, it was announced that both the Fair, Green and Global Alliance (FGG) and the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA) have been selected as two of the 20 potential strategic partnerships of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the 2021-2025 period. Both ENDS is pleased that the Dutch government is seriously considering extending its support to these networks, as they show that cooperation on the basis of equality between grassroots organisations and NGOs throughout the world can continue to bring about change in the position of women, in respect for human rights and in making trade chains and financing systems sustainable.
News / 14 December 2022
Irene Dankelman, founder of Both ENDS becomes Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau
Last Saturday, 10 December, Both ENDS' founder, board member and advisor Irene Dankelman was awarded the title of Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau for her work supporting marginalised groups around the world. Both ENDS is delighted that that Irene has been honoured for the work she has done to achieve a fair and sustainable world.
Blog / 8 March 2019
Women lead struggle for land rights for the Avá GuaraníBy Tamara Mohr
Together with five women from the Platform Suace Pyvyvõhára, I travel to Mingã Pora in the east of Paraguay. Around 45 families from the indigenous Tekohá Suace community settled here in 2016. In Guaraní, Tekohá means 'the place where we are what we are'. They reside in tents - self-made out of waste materials - on a small strip of land with a soy field on one side and a nature reserve owned by the Itaipu company on the other.
News / 28 September 2018
Joan Carling is awarded with the UN’s highest environmental honor!
We congratulate Joan Carling, member of the permanent commission on indigenous peoples of the UN, for having received the Lifetime Achievement Award as 'Champion of the Earth' by the UN Environment! This is the UN's highest environmental honor, given to six of the world's most outstanding environmental change makers once a year.
News / 10 November 2022
African women raise their voice ahead of COP27 and call for climate justice
In October 2022, 150 women from 14 African Countries gathered in Port Harcourt, Nigeria for the first African Women's Climate Assembly. The aim of this Assembly was to strengthen and unify women-led struggles against dirty extractives and false solutions to the climate crisis in West and Central Africa, and propose the real development solutions that support women's interests in a good and decent life and livelihoods in a time of climate crisis.