Bayelsa State Government has lamented the impact of artisanal refining of petroleum products in communities, adding that the menace was affecting access to portable drinking water.
The Commissioner for Environment, Bayelsa state, Iselema Gbaranibiri, stated this in Port Harcourt during a one day Strategic Partnership “Dialogue and Dissent” in Nigeria, an End of Programme Dissemination Event, organised by Cordaid, an international organization sponsored by the Dutch Finance Ministry.
The strategic partnership, which was coordinated by Cordaid began in 2016 in a bid to tackle the effects of environmental degradation resulting from the activities of illegal oil mining in the region.
Gbaranibiri who was represented by the Director of Climate Change, in the same Ministry, Mr. Ere Davidson, noted that illegal oil refining is a major problem in the state and has caused untold hardship on residents.
He said: “I am happy because there is a kind of value reorientation. The issue of artisanal refining has been a major problem in Bayelsa.
In some communities you don’t even have portable water , you have to buy sachet water for everything. Cordiad’s effort in lessening the spate of these occurrences is a plus and we really appreciate them.”
Meanwhile, the Project Coordinator of the Strategic Partnership, Dr. Akin Oke, who recounted the group’s effort in facilitating the process of creating alternative means of livelihood for youths away from illegal oil refinishing, said their efforts have yielded positive results.
He said, “We didn’t just say stop doing ‘kpo’ fire, we are saying they should have alternative means of livelihood. “We did a research in Bayelsa and found out that certain communities felt that with oil pollution, they cannot do farming or agriculture.
With the intervention of our partners, FACE Initiative, there is a community that now grows Saline rice which is rice that is grown in water with high salt concentration.
“The programme has been in place since 2016 and we are rounding up by sharing our experiences with the public to let them know about what we have been doing for the past four and half years. “The programme has been about empowering communities to play an active role particularly in the implementation of UNEP report of 2011.”