We're always quick to call out the gross misconduct of oil companies and our dearest federal and local government when it comes to the Niger Delta (and rightfully so, wethinks) but it's nice to hear some good news once in a while. According to the Guardian, this project, though not scheduled to be completed till the end of 2008 should at least give those quant-heavy economic development folks some actual quant data on just how terrible things are in Ogoniland (and rouse them out of their indifference) and hopefully the project can be scaled to include other badly-hit parts of the Niger Delta.
UN bodies to assess oil-polluted sites in Ogoniland - Chinedu Uwaegbulam
A COMPREHENSIVE environmental assessment of oil-impacted sites in the Ogoni region of the Niger Delta is to be launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in association with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The move follows a request by the Federal Government as part of the broader government-led peace and reconciliation process in the region. Local communities and partners will be supporting UNEP to undertake the evaluation.
Senior officials from UNEP began talks in Abuja yesterday to seal the final detail of the assessment, expected to be completed by the end of 2008.
The assessment will be conducted by the Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch (PCDMB), which leads UNEP's work in areas of the world where the environment is impacted by conflicts or disasters, or where the environment is a factor contributing to conflict and disaster impacts.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "The assessment will seek to identify, evaluate and minimise the immediate and long-term human, social, health and economic impacts of oil contamination in Ogoniland, as well as those related to environmentally and economically important ecosystems.
"We will be deploying several teams of international and local experts in order to conduct field-based assessments in over 300 sites to identify the impacts of oil on environmental systems such as land, water, agriculture, fisheries and air - as well as the direct and indirect effects on biodiversity and human health," he added.
On the basis of the findings, UNEP will make recommendations for the appropriate remediation activities to rehabilitate the land to a condition that is environmentally acceptable, according to international standards.
The project will be undertaken in a manner that maximises benefits to the community through employment, capacity-building activities, information and consultation.
PCDMB conflicts and disasters are closely intertwined with the environment, hence, proper environmental management and governance is considered essential for long-term peace, stability and security in any conflict- or disaster-prone country.