The #OneFarm Campaign Is Dedicated To Restore the Niger Delta as Buhari Announces $1 Billion Clean Up Plan

The #OneFarm Campaign Is Dedicated To Restore the Niger Delta as Buhari Announces $1 Billion Clean Up Plan

Learn more about the #OneFarm campaign and their efforts to clean up the Niger Delta in a sustainable way.

Recently, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhariannounced a $1 billion plan to clean up the Niger Delta. In collaboration with the United Nations and top oil companies in the region, the plans hopes to gradually clean up one of the world most oil-polluted areas.

A report issued by the UN Environment Programme on Ogoniland in the Niger Delta found dangerous levels of benzene in local drinking water, deep-seeded oil contamination and evidence of illegal dumping by oil companies in restricted water regions.

Over $200 million will be invested annually for five years to clean up the region’s water.

According to the plan’s groundwork, however, it will take 18 months before any form of remedial work will be brought to the ground and the entire process is estimated to take around 25 years to completely restore.

Many organizations and environmental groups have been calling attention to the degrading damage years of onslaught oil spill have caused on the Niger Delta basin’s natural preserve and people. One of those groups, Sustainability International and their #OneFarm campaign already started the task of cleaning up the area.

In critique of previous administrations and their indifference and stagnancy to the issue, Amara Ijeoma Uyanna, research analyst at Sustainability International and a recent graduate from Louisiana Tech University speaks to us further on the project and what Buhari’s recent announcement really means for the #OneFarm movement.

This interview has been edited.

Omnia Saed for Okayafrica: Can you tell me a little bit more about Sustainability International and the The One Farm initiative? How and why did it start? 

Amara Ijeoma Uyanna: SI is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering communities and alleviating poverty through education, conserving and protecting ecosystems, and improving the health of indigenous peoples through water safety and disease prevention. SI started with a focus on the co-founder Chinyere Nnadi’s ancestral village of Nkwerre, Imo State. SI built a community center for the widows of the village, brought them medical care and taught them how to build sustainable businesses. SI also renovated the girl’s high school, and designed a water irrigation system for the village. The One Farm initiative was born out of a combination of his experiences in the Niger Delta.

Can you tell me about the cleanup process? What it would look like and entail? What technology will be implemented? 

SI believes that this cleanup should be a boon for employment and skills development in the Niger Delta. We are therefore incorporating safe and organic solutions that can be applied to clean up the oil spills—that will spur job growth for indigenous peoples. Our biotechnology can clean up the oil in water, soil and vegetation in less than a month and then turn into a fertilizer, re-invigorating the ecosystem. These biotechnologies are safe and efficient. More importantly, their application process promotes local employment. Ideally, Nigerians would be paid to clean up their environment, not foreign workers.

This cleanup needs our anti-corruption technologies so that we can track financial flows, and make sure that indigenous peoples receive reparations. So we can confirm that this time, the environment is actually restored.

Our approach ensures that villagers will have the opportunity to be educated and certified at international sustainability standards. These projects are taking place in our communities, and we be armed with the knowledge and tools to supervise cleanup and CSR projects. And ensure that they are completed at international standards.

I know you are also trying to film a documentary? Can you tell me the reasoning behind it? What you think multimedia will lend to the process? 

Storytelling is a universal language. Working with VRSE [Storytelling for Virtual Reality], we are utilizing the virtual reality documentary to bring people from around the world into the cleanup experience. They’ll accompany a farmer as she restores her livelihood. Together, the world will experience the rebirth of the Niger Delta. The reasoning behind this was largely to bridge the empathy gap, while educating the world about this hidden disaster. The horror of the environment and the hope that this process brings will be visceral to even the soccer mom in Connecticut.

President Buhari recently announced a $1 billion cleaning project in collaboration with the United Nations to clean the Delta. What does that mean for your project? Is there a future collaboration?

Absolutely. Our ideal scenario involves collaborations with the Nigerian government, corporate, local & international bodies, and the local people on the cleanup. We are currently in the talks with some of these organizations and they are looking very promising! However, if the Nigerian government is unable to execute in a timely fashion—and the instability continues—we will go ahead and restore farms in the delta while connecting the rest of the world to the experience using virtual reality and documentary storytelling.

Based on the social media campaign, the hashtags, the posts, it very much seems like this is a campaign targeted to millennials. What role do you think they play in all of this?

The baby boomers seem to have become tolerant of the environmental damage so they accept the current state of the continent. We believe that the current generation of African millennials in the United States is more motivated than ever to use the skills they learn in America to solve pressing issues in their homeland. This generation feels called to correct the past wrongs their leaders have committed, of which many have damaged the environment. So the millennials will be very instrumental in ensuring sustainable development for Africa i.e. the Niger Delta in this case.