Truncated local livelihoods (fishing and agricultural activities), threats against security and food sovereignty, diseases over the use of agrotoxics in plantations, displacement of communities and human rights abuses, limits to the freedom of movement of local inhabitants are some of the consequences experienced by the population of certain Nigerian areas where land grabbing advances to give way to oil palm monoculture plantations.
Environmental Rights Action – Friends of the Earth Nigeria and Friends of the Earth International have been denouncing this. In particular, in the past time, there has been a ferocious advance in this African country of company Okomu Oil Palm (member of the Belgium group SOCFIN) which for instance has recently added 11 thousand hectares of arable lands, including two forest reserves, for the expansion of oil palm plantations.
Real World Radio interviewed ERA´s activist Rita Uwaka to know more about social and environmental impacts of the advance of land grabbing in her country for the production of oil palm and about the work of the environmental organization she represents. The interview was conducted on December 11, in the framework of the activities parallel to the UN COP 21 on Climate Change, in Paris, France.
“That’s why we came here, as part of our strategy to say NO to land grabbing”, said Rita to Real World Radio in the French capital. The activist highlighted that the expansion of the palm business impacts the livelihoods of communities, their rights, and even their spiritual connections. She also warned about deforestation to give way to new plantations and added that there´s an important gender component when talking about social impacts, because women have a strong link with destroyed forests.
According to our interviewee, the arable lands are being taken away from communities and they are not economically compensated nor given other ways to earn their food and livelihoods. Nevertheless, she highlighted that affected communities state that there´s no money in the world that can give them back their way of living.
Rita also talked about the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) mechanism of the UN on Nigerian lands, its communities and populations, in the context of the advance of oil palm agribusiness.
When speaking about ERA-FoE Nigeria´s actions, Rita highlighted their role as a generator of information and that communities have the possibility to express their points of view in an informed way, in a situation when sometimes there aren´t even environmental impact studies. The activist added that the environmentalist organization has worked hard for the national government to understand that plantations are not forests, and there have been demonstrations and “lobby” work with the political sector.
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