CODAF, Other Organisations Raise Alarm over Environmental Issues Facing Nigeria’s Coastal Communities

In commemoration of the World Environment Day and World Ocean Day, Community Development Advocacy Foundation (CODAF also known as Rural Community Empowerment Initiative (RUCEI) has drawn attention to the dangers of plastic waste and its effect on the environment.

The Executive Director of CODAF, Richard Benin stated this during a Riverside Action and Environmental Campaigns in Forcados and Odimodi communities in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State, to mark World Environment Day and World Ocean Day.  

Mr. Benin explained that plastic waste is growing to be one of the most disturbing issues bedeviling the planet as of today, as these products contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment and the people. 

He noted that, of the 450 million tonnes of plastics produced annually around the globe, only nine (9) percent is recycled and a sizable amount of the remaining ones not recycled find their way into rivers and oceans.  These ones, he said, have negative impacts on the ecosystem.

Benin said it is important for individuals, corporate organisations, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), governments at all levels to come together to fight the menace and bequeath a better environment to the future generation. 

In his conversations with the people of Forcados and Odimodi communities respectively, he admonished the people to completely avoid or reduce the use of plastic to save their environment and to save mother earth. 

The Executive Director of CODAF used the opportunity to call on the government to adopt and implement a comprehensive Zero waste plan that will address all forms of waste at the source of generation across all value chains and ban all single use plastics. 

Also speaking at both communities, the Executive Director of African Center for Environmental and Rural Development, Nowho Fred who partnered with CODAF on the environmental day action, stated that World Environmental Day is not just celebrated but a reminder that we need to pay attention to the environment, to save the earth for future generations. 

On her part, the Executive Director of Neferok Development Initiative, Nefertiti Ayo Okotie explained that plastic waste accounts for 85 percent of Marine waste as about 11 Million metric tons of plastic goes into the ocean annually and is estimated to triple over the next 20 years. 

She advised that if humans must survive staying on planet earth, then everyone must be involved in the fight against plastic pollution.

Meanwhile, the people of Forcados and Odimodi have applauded the visit of CODAF and other partner organisations and the environmental messages that were brought to them. 

While discussing the Environmental issues affecting the communities, the people of Forcados lamented that they have been neglected and long forgotten by the government and oil multinationals, despite the cries of crude oil spillages and flooding that is ravaging the community. 

Speaking to the media, an indigene of Forcados, Engineer Jacob Diale stated that Forcados has the potential of being a well-developed community, as the Nigerian colonial administration was intentionally started in Forcados by the colonial masters. 

He however regretted that the glory of Forcados have been diverted to other parts of Nigeria, while the people have been abandoned in deep poverty by the government and the oil multinationals whose crude activities have destroyed the ecosystem and livelihood of the people. 

One of the women in the community, Evelyn Orijemi explained that the people have given up on farming because their farmlands have all gone under water, while crude oil has destroyed fishing activities of the people, adding that the people of Forcados are living in poverty and their community is being washed away by the sea. 

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Another woman, Lucy Akinto who also spoke on the issue, complained that smoke and black oil from oil exploration activities is affecting the people of Forcados, yet no form of development has been seen stressing that the community does not have potable water, power supply or roads.

The Chairman of Forcados Community, Burutu Erekedowmini called on the appropriate authorities to intervene and save the people of Forcados from being wiped out from the world by the environmental issues plaguing their community. 

On their part, the women of Odimodi have applauded the advocacy and intervention of CODAF in Odimodi, as the efforts made have drawn the attention of Shell to their community.

The women who expressed their gratitude testified that after the visit of CODAF in January 2023 and the advocacy efforts made, Shell had introduced nine (9) new scholarship slots for the community and brought medical teams to examine and attend to the medical needs of the people. 

While they appreciated the efforts of Shell, they however appealed that rather than bringing occasional medical teams to the community, a standard hospital with trained doctors should be established permanently in Odimodi to attend to emergencies and other unforeseen medical needs of the people. 

They also requested for the introduction of adult education for the aged who still value education, and the provision of loans and grants to improve the standard of living in Odimodi.

The highlight of CODAF environmental day action in Forcados and Odimodi were riverside campaigns for the reduction of plastic waste and the need to save the coastal communities. 

The 5th and 8th  of June are days set aside to celebrate World Environment and World Ocean days respectively.

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