5.9 C
London
Saturday, November 25, 2023

Meet the Nigerian woman cleaning up an oil-soaked landscape

Date:

Related stories

Handre Pollard of South Africa Anticipates a Fierce Encounter with England in the Semi-Finals

South Africa's Rugby World Cup semi-final preparations continued in...

Scammers Utilize Artificial Intelligence to impersonate African Union Leader Moussa Faki

African Union Chief Moussa Faki Impersonated in Cyber Scam...

Victor Osimhen Faces Nearly a Month on the Sidelines Due to Hamstring Injury

Napoli's Nigerian striker, Victor Osimhen, has suffered a right...

Kenyan Facebook Moderators Allege Insincere Negotiations by Meta

The attorney representing 184 former Facebook content moderators in...

It is the most unusual of stories. A workable solution to an environmental disaster.

Oil spill after oil spill has contaminated the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria, making it one of the most polluted areas on the planet.

It’s extremely dangerous – militant groups have blown up pipelines, oil companies have been accused of negligence, and kidnappings are on the rise – and there’s a deep mistrust of outsiders.

In an oil-soaked and fire-ravaged land, one scientist, Eucharia Nwaichi, arrives armed with knowledge and a calm but unwavering determination to detoxify.

“We want environmentally friendly, nature-based solutions. In everything we do, we strive to do no harm “In an interview with the BBC, she says

She was recently awarded the John Maddox prize, which recognizes scientists who persevere in the face of adversity. “Congratulations to me,” she exclaimed at the award ceremony in London, thrilled to be the first African woman to win.

Eucharia is a biochemist at Port Harcourt University. She uses a straightforward method to restore oil- and chemical-contaminated soils and water.

It’s called bioremediation, and it involves planting vegetation that naturally removes pollutants from the soil without the need for chemicals to be removed and disposed of elsewhere.

She is dispatched to oil spill sites, where chemicals and heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and chromium leak into the ground, to monitor the pollution.

Read Also  New accusations have been brought against Nigeria's suspended central bank chief

She’s been working in the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s “garden” with vast oil and gas reserves, since 2003.

EUCHARIA NWAICHI

She discovered that waste from oil refining was clogging water when she was a PhD student. It was causing friction between the community and the oil company operating in the area; Eucharia explains that by proving the source of the problem with documented evidence, she persuaded the company to change the way it extracted oil.

Her use of science during violent conflicts earned her the Maddox prize.

“Eucharia engaged opposing hostile forces in asking scientific questions to ensure effective solutions,” Tracey Brown, director of the charity Sense in Science, which awards the John Maddox prize, said.

What distinguishes her is her diplomacy in winning over locals and convincing oil companies to pay for detoxification.

People have turned to the courts for justice after decades of suffering from the effects of major pollution. A Dutch court ruled in 2021 that Shell must compensate farmers.

But, according to Eucharia, the environment is suffering in the meantime. Cleaning up is not a priority during litigation, she claims. She believes that in order to gain their support, local residents must feel involved in the solution.

Read Also  "Revealed: The Untold Story Of How Femi Otedola Resisted Suicide"

“You run the risk of being kidnapped if you don’t interact with people properly. First, I meet with the chief of the community, the women’s leader, and the youth leaders “she claims

Speaking Pidgin or the local language, as well as using traditional knowledge, she explains, helps to build trust.

“People get excited and feel like scientists because they’re collaborating with us researchers to solve the problem,” she explains.

“They teach us as well. They have planting techniques that we are unaware of, and they teach us how to make the solution work in their environment “She elaborates.

Instead of focusing solely on financial compensation, she believes the contaminated land should be restored so that crops can grow again and fishing can resume.

Despite being offered positions at prestigious US universities, she says she chose to stay in the Niger Delta to work because she has a “mission to make my country great.”

Many environmentalists undoubtedly view international oil companies as adversaries. Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth have fought to hold them accountable for the communities that have suffered from poor health, a lack of safe drinking water, and the destruction of their livelihoods.

Read Also  An ex-Lagos deputy governor attributes Nigeria's issues to God's wrath and corruption

Eucharia, on the other hand, refuses to take sides. “We are not here to fight. We simply want people to be accountable “she claims “Fighting is less important than being responsible. It lasts longer.”

She has, however, faced her own threats. She claims that in 2020, while documenting a new oil spill, she was threatened by an oil company, which confiscated her data and equipment. She claims the operator also challenged her, saying she should not be allowed to work there because she is a woman.

Despite the constant threat of violence, she persists because she believes “mother nature called on me to be a steward” and views facts as a force for good.

“The power of science is that it allows people to demonstrate that this was not done because of bias or someone’s personal interests,” she says.

Oh hi there đź‘‹
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive awesome & exclusive content in your inbox, every week.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

InsiderBLM Africa
InsiderBLM Africahttp://insiderblm.com
InsiderBLM Africa shares deep financial, media, tech, and other industry verticals happening in Africa.

Subscribe

- Never miss a story with notifications

- Gain full access to our premium content

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Latest stories