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nigeria: raising awareness of climate change impacts

Climate Change is severely affecting livelihoods in Nigeria by altering seasonal rainfall patterns. Streams and springs are drying up, causing major crop yield reductions and food shortages. However, the level of awareness of climate change impacts is very low. Corporations and the transport sector, the major perpetrators of this damage, have not even begun to take the necessary actions to address these problems. No abatement measures are being implemented to stop gas flaring, Nigeria’s main source of greenhouse gas emissions.

 

nigeria: climateTo address this situation, Friends of the Earth Nigeria / Environmental Rights Action and other civil society organisations aim to increase awareness of climate change impacts, fight for stronger liability regimes for the corporations responsible for biodiversity destruction, and promote genuine grassroots climate change solutions for local communities.

what happened: In 2007, FoE Nigeria dedicated some of its human and financial resources to outreach strategies, ranging from increasing journalists’ capacity on the issue, to reaching as many remote Nigerian communities as possible. They trained 20 members of the media on effective climate change reporting, including broadcast journalists and national daily newspaper reporters.

At FoE Nigeria’s Environmental Parliament, a roundtable of stakeholders from diverse social sectors converged to brainstorm on how to tackle the problem more effectively. A new edition of FoE Nigeria’s magazine on climate change issues was also broadly circulated.

Furthermore, and despite the danger posed by travelling in the some regions due to violence, the Host Communities Network was successfully established. This is a network of communities from across the Niger Delta and South Nigeria, which are either at the sites of extractive industries or are affected by their activities.

what is changing: Gradually, Nigerian civil society is gaining a higher level of awareness of the realities posed by climate change, and a greater determination to curb them. Climate change issues have a higher profile in newspapers and other mass media, and stakeholders from various social sectors are discussing and debating the issue.

More and more community-based groups are getting involved and coordinating on climate justice issues, for example, the above-mentioned Host Communities Network, composed of 20 communities spread across the Edo, Delta, and Rivers states.

Advocacy and media pressure has forced the government to make a pronouncement about the new December 2008 deadline to stop gas flaring, despite tremendous pressure exerted by corporate oil giants to extend the deadline to 2010.

what next: The new deadline for ending gas flaring in Nigeria, "is still unacceptable to us", says Maria Ohenhen of FoE Nigeria. Their campaign continues, and more than ever FoE Nigeria needs other FoE groups "to continue to support us and show their solidarity until gas flaring ends". Last year, FoE Australia put FoE Nigeria’s cyberaction on their website, and many others sent letters of support. This international solidarity helps the activists maintain their hope for a better life in Nigeria.

with thanks to our funders: the dutch ministry of foreign affairs


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