Albert, Oshienemen (2019) A Framework to Enhance Empowerment of Communities Affected by Oil Spill Environmental Hazards on Livelihood Structures. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Globally, natural and human-made disasters are rising concerns for humanity, with contradicting opinions on the mitigation procedures across the world. The different natural and human-made hazards, which often leads to disasters can affect the built environment, environment, economic structure, waterways, societal structures, cultural settings, and livelihood structure of an affected population. Notably, different countries suffer these incidents in different dimensions cutting across from low-income countries to high-income nations, with more severity impact on the low income and or developing countries than the developed countries. Thus, the severity of the impact on the developing countries is alarming and are on the increase due to the lack of hard and soft infrastructural development, policy inconsistency and lack of policy implementations, making it difficult for the affected communities to bounce back when necessary, especially in Nigeria. The Nigeria disasters, especially oil spillages, have affected diverse communities across the Niger Delta region for decades with little or nothing as external support for the broken livelihood structure, cultural and economic damages of the people. Though, in the spirit of contribution to the communities affected by oil spills and negative consequence of petroleum production, the federal government at different times established some impressionistic bodies and agencies to oversee the affairs of the region as with regards to oil spillages and development. Thus, evidence indicates that the agencies/commissions are yet to manifest its practical achievement regarding community livelihood rebuild and development across the communities in the Niger Delta. As such, driving the communities towards the edge for the survival of the fittest strategies, where households have to hunt for alternative livelihood, rather than wait for physical livelihood intervention which may never manifest itself. More so, literature evidenced that communities have engaged in different alternative means for livelihood as the environment and their primary livelihood means continuous on the deteriorating state. Thus, such alternatives as revealed by different scholars are hostage-taking, agitation and violence in the call for livelihood support, environmental justices, and social justices and resources justices.

However, this study recognised that the strategies, as mentioned above, were not livelihood strategies, but rather, the act of frustration for the loss of primary livelihood means. As such, the study aim to develop a framework that would enhance the empowerment of the communities affected by the negative impacts of petroleum activities and oil spillages across the Niger Delta region. Also, the study is set out to explore the intervention of the oil and gas industry, and oil spill-related agency with regards to existing community livelihood support structure, relationship synergy, and how to improve such structure as a way of empowerment.

The study adopts a case study strategy to explore communities affected by oil spillages on livelihood structures and the alternative mechanisms adapted to reshape the damaged cultural activities and the socioeconomic aspects of the community’s subsistence. The study employed the use of interviews and focus group discussions techniques amongst, traditional rulers, environmental activist, religious leaders, and community development chairmen, women of the periwinkle picking company, youth leaders, farmers and fishers. More so, in other to support and triangulate with communities’ evidence that emerges from the interviews and the focused group discussions. Several expert’s interviews were conducted among the oil and gas and the oil spill-related agency to capture the policy aspects and how their intervention has contributed to the reduction of impacts on community livelihood structures. The participants which cut across liaison officers, community relations officers, environmental engineers, environmental expertise, and principal environmental officers were purposively selected. Thus, based on the empirical investigations, it was evident that the communities improvised alternatives that contribute to their everyday livelihoods, while, encountering challenges from government, none-availability of land and facilities. The findings further indicate that both the oil and gas industry and oil spill-related agency are faced with different challenges which have subsequently obstructed their intervention mechanism. As such, the study was able to create a common ground through the empirical evidence, where the three stakeholders could assimilate strategies that would reduce or help to overcome the challenges while empowering the communities affected by the negative impact of oil spill environmental hazards.

FINAL THESIS - ALBERT.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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