The Niger Delta sprawls its oily tentacles throughout the southern coast of Nigeria. Spread over 256,000 kilometers, the 10th largest oil reservoir in the world comprises fields of industrial piping. Oil accounts for 89% of Nigerian exports, yet the region has significant poverty. Big oil makes off with the profits of Nigerian labor, fleecing the nation of its natural wealth and leaving behind a trail of economic and environmental devastation. Shell alone has spilled 17.5 million liters of oil into the region since 2011, laying waste to arable farmland and poisoning groundwater. The Market Development in the Niger Delta Program (MADE) and The Foundation For Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) are working to drain the quagmire of poverty in the Niger Delta.
Poverty in the Niger Delta
Nigeria only fully embraced democracy in the last decade, with the first peaceful democratic succession occurring in 2015. Nigeria’s Human Development Index (HDI) rose by 13.1% between 2005 and 2015, yet Nigeria is still the 152nd least-developed nation on earth. The population in extreme poverty in the Niger Delta is the largest on earth. About 76.5% of Nigerians live on less than $3.10 a day as of 2009 and one-quarter of children are working. The crux of the issue is that the success of the Nigerian economy is intrinsically bound to oil prices and is subject to the terms of big oil. Until the Nigerian economy is diversified at the individual level, poverty in the Niger Delta will continue to thrive.
The Foundation For Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta Against Poverty
PIND is a charitable NGO whose programs “identify, catalyze and leverage opportunities, jobs and incomes… promoting peace and equitable economic growth in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.” The year 2021 was busy for PIND. Programs targeting issues ranging from youth prospects to women’s rights saw excellent progress toward ending poverty in the Niger Delta.
In 2021, PIND educated 12,199 Nigerian farmers with modern agricultural practices and technologies, incentivizing farmers to invest a total of ₦745.19 million ($1.6 million). PIND also collaborated with the Edo GIS department to map, border and secure arable agricultural land for provincial farmers.
The NGO trained 23 fishermen in Awoye with modern fishing techniques. PIND provided practical demonstrations, equipment and supply links for further purchases. PIND also demonstrated modern fish processing techniques. As a result, primary business owners in the Niger Delta purchased 20 ovens, enabling businesses to increase sales.
In association with A4&T power solutions, PIND facilitated 4,130 people from 650 households and 230 businesses in the Ondo region with access to renewable solar electricity.
An initial cohort of 631 youths graduated from the Youth Employment Pathways program in Delta State in 2021. These youths received training in “technical and vocational skills training across four intervention sectors of ICT, building construction, agriculture and services.” About 232 graduates attained apprenticeships, 161 started businesses and 112 secured paid employment.
In 2021, PIND produced 13 conflict reports to influential community leaders “to facilitate targeted interventions to mitigate emerging conflict issues in the (Delta) region.” In combination with the reports, 51 ‘peace actors’ took 48 actions to resolve conflicts in the Niger Delta region.
PIND collaborated with the Centre for Gender and Development Studies of the University of Port Harcourt to launch an advocacy program to end sexual violence and the ritualistic sacrifice of women and girls in the Niger Delta.
The Market Development in the Niger Delta Program Alleviating Poverty
The Market Development in the Niger Delta Program (MADE), by DAI, is another project alleviating poverty in the deprived Niger Delta region. Its mission is to “tackle fundamental social and economic development problems caused by inefficient markets, ineffective governance, and instability.” Between 2013 and 2020, MADE achieved the following milestones:
- MADE leased with 551,521 independent farmers, providing them with ‘commercial incentives.’ About 389,441 of these farmers increased productivity and 307,722 experienced at least a 15% increase in income. This represents more than $55 million of the profits that MADE generated.
- MADE influenced “36 lead firms across five sectors… to invest in 1,982 agricultural inputs, fisheries, poultry and palm oil.” MADE also orchestrated the training of 100,000 independent farmers by inspiring 50 more companies to train impoverished Nigerians. Training enables primary business owners to become more efficient and forge meaningful trade relationships with large corporations.
- MADE led nine corporations to invest $10 million in 33,000 vulnerable people and human rights abuse victims in the Niger Delta.
MADE and PIND programs have made significant inroads into poverty in the Niger Delta. Agricultural knowledge-sharing endeavors and modern machinery workshops allow impoverished Nigerians to forge successful businesses and livelihoods. Facilitating investment by independent farmers and large corporations affords impoverished Nigerians the prospect of financial autonomy. MADE and PIND promote human rights, peace, democracy, youth prospects, women’s rights and financial development, addressing the root causes of poverty in the Niger Delta with emphatic efficiency.
– David Smith
Photo: Wikipedia Commons