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Oil extraction forces Ogoni to consume benzene water for survival, Nigeria


Eight months after the release of the popular UNEP report, nothing has been done to effect the recommendations outlined in the report. Ogoni Communities still consume water with high level of benzene, of about 900 times above World Health Organisation (WHO) acceptable levels, hence the likelihood of cancer for consumers of such water, are yet to get adequate aids to ameliorate their situations.

As part of the immediate recommendations to savage the people from continued contacts with the dangerously contaminated water, the report recommended that alternative sources of water supply should be provided by the government and the oil multinational Shell. As a form of response the Rivers State government through the Ministry of Water resources embarked on supply of water to Eleme local government area.

Unfortunately, water was only provided for Ogale and Ebubu communities, out of the eleven villages that make up Eleme, Nsisioken community in the area. Other Ogoni communities such as Bodo, Goi, Nwakara and Korokoro are yet to benefit from the clean water supply by the Government and Shell. As such, communities have been forced to consume benzene polluted water.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Oil extraction forces Ogoni to consume benzene water for survival, Nigeria
State or province:Rivers State
Location of conflict:Eleme Local Government Area, Ogoniland.
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Specific commodities:Crude oil

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:832000
Start of the conflict:04/2012
Company names or state enterprises:Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) from Netherlands
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) from Nigeria
Relevant government actors:Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Environmental Rights Action, Ogoni Solidarity Forum, Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Air pollution, Desertification/Drought, Fires, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Global warming, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Infectious diseases
Potential: Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
Negotiated alternative solution
New legislation
Under negotiation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Proposal and development of alternatives:-The Ministry of Water Resources as a matter of urgency start mapping areas with high level of hydrocarbons and stop people from using such water.
-The federal government mandate Shell to immediately start the cleanup of Ogoni land as recommended by the UNEP report.
-The Environmental Restoration fund should start without further delay.
-Maximum efforts should be channeled towards realizing the clean up within the UNEP recommended time frame of 30-35 years without extraction.
-Leave ogoni oil in the soil, clean Ogoni land.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The UNEP reports recommendations on Ogoniland have not been fulfilled. Pollution is still widespread in Ogoni area.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Nigeria Population Census, 2006.

UNEP report

UNEP report

ERA field report

Meta information

Contributor:Afoke Ohwojeheri
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:551