Living Earth Foundation has been working in Nigeria since 1996, previously in partnership with the Living Earth Nigeria Foundation (LENF).
Living Earth Foundation has primarily worked in two key states in Nigeria; Bayelsa and Cross River State, located in the heart of the Niger River Delta on the southern coast of Nigeria. The Delta region is one of Nigeria’s most biodiversity rich areas; its mangrove forest is the largest in Africa and the third largest in the world. The area also contains Nigeria’s main oil reserves and since the discovery of oil in the region in 1956, major infrastructural developments including the building of roads and pipelines, along with an influx of migrant workers have taken place. Two million people now live in Bayelsa State and this, along with on-going development, is greatly impacting on the Delta’s ecosystem.
The natural resources of the Niger Delta are vital to the livelihoods of communities living there; communities generate income through livelihoods including farming, hunting, fishing and trading in forest products. As the oil industry has expanded, increased immigration and access to forests and fisheries has resulted in an over exploitation and unsustainable use of the Delta’s natural resources, threatening the livelihoods of the inhabitants in the area.
Aims in Nigeria
Living Earth’s community development and environmental education work enables communities to identify and address environmental problems whilst learning to manage their own resources.
The principal issues facing the local communities of the Delta are:
- Economic stagnation; despite the mineral wealth under the Niger Delta, local people in these states are amongst the poorest in the country. Poor education standards and sanitation which lead to illness and high child mortality rates, are commonplace.
- Over-reliance on unsustainable natural resource use; the Delta’s renewable natural resources are being exploited in unsustainable ways; clear-felling of forest, fishing with toxic substances, poor soil husbandry, with communities’ potential for economic development threatened by their very struggle for survival.
- Conflict and mistrust among different sectors of society; the inequitable distribution of wealth and resources in the Delta region has led to mistrust and an open conflict between communities and those perceived to be responsible for the exploitation of resources, including government and oil company representatives.
- Poor organisational development at community level; the conflict and mistrust amongst different sectors has caused internal conflict within individual communities, rendering many dysfunctional. Young people have become restive with their traditional respect for elders undermined due to the practice of government and corporations ‘solving’ conflicts with large pay-offs to chiefs and elders.
LEF has sought to address these problems throughout all of its projects in Nigeria.
This DIFD funded programme unites Nigerian NGOs to work in partnership with local government, civil society and the private sector to increase the transparency and accountability of governance in the Delta and ensure a better delivery of basic services in the the region.
This programme aims to catalyse the development of natural gas, renewable energy markets and sustainable community-based energy facilities within the Niger Delta through policy reform and by demonstrating that alternative community-based energy facilities can provide sufficient power for meeting rural and urban community needs. Details of Living Earth’s component of the SUNGAS- Gas to Power Project, can be accessed on the link below.
This project is a component of the Sustainable Utilisation of Nigeria’s Gas and Renewable Energy Resources (SUNGAS) programme, and seeks to utilize flare gas for domestic and small business consumption in the Niger Delta through the installation of a micro turbine.
This project seeks to create a virtuous circle wherein slum dwellers in Port Harcourt take responsibility for collecting and managing household solid waste, by fostering the development of wealth creating waste processing enterprises.
As part of its Waste to Wealth Project activities, Living Earth has created a tailor-made learning programme for entrepreneurs and managers of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) living and working in urban slum areas of Uganda, Nigeria and Cameroon
Developed to contribute to the European Commission’s objective of raising awareness of global development issues, enhancing relations between EU and less developed countries and building support for the Millennium Development Goals, the project focuses on schools in Port Harcourt in Nigeria and Aberdeen City and Shire in Scotland.