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Location: C116, Bowland North
Dr Claire Waterton (Centre for the Study of Environmental Change, ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Geonomics) and Dr Saskia Vermeyley (Lancaster Environmental Centre)
Oil Spills, Rural Livelihoods and Human Health: A Case Study of the Niger Delta Region, Nigeria.
My PhD is interdisciplinary. It covers Environmental and Natural Resource Sociology, Political Ecology/Political Economy, Geopolitics, Geographies of Health, Oil spill polluted /Bio-contaminated environment and Rural livelihoods. My research goes beyond the visible or direct effects of oil spills and associated activities of oil multinationals in the region. Its focus is on the indirect effects that are subtle, which in the long-run or short-run greatly impact human health and well-being in the Niger Delta Region.The theories upon which I hinge my thesis are environmental stress theory, ecological-symbolic theory, resource-dependence theory, conservation of resource theory and Concept of the Ecological-Self.
"This place is part of me? My relation to this place is part of myself? If this place is destroyed, something in me is destroyed. My relationship to this place is such that if this place is changed I am changed" (Naess, 1987: 37)
The way the environment is conceptualised is the basis upon which its utilization hinges. It has been conceptualised in different ways to suit disparate interest which inevitably lead to conflicts of interest. Naess argues that when individuals defend their environment, they are actually acting in self defense and people feel threatened when their environment, which is an extension of their self, is destroyed. In line with this position, Ibeanu (2000) argues that the threat perceived by members of a community as a result of oil spills makes them feel unsecured. Security here entails the capacity of the biophysical environment to sustain the needs of people. It is the capacity of individuals to provide their physical and psychological needs and livelihoods. It has to do with the reduction of frustration, fears and anxieties about their abilities to meet their need. Protection from poverty, bio-chemical contamination, injustice and the likes are what people in oil producing communities strive for (Ibeanu, 2000). In essence, their security is rooted in the sustenance provided by the environment and as such when the environment is polluted there is the feeling of insecurity. It is this feeling of threat and insecurity perceived by individuals that causes them to embark on environmental protest/resistance and the various environmental movements designed to protect the environment. Where the environment is protected, the individual feels protected and secured. It can be argued that the promulgation of environmental laws/regulation is hinged on this security consciousness of the individuals striving to protect themselves by protecting their environment [ecological-self]
I am particularly interested in the feelings, emotions, frustrations, invoked by the political ecology and environment pollution in the Niger Delta Region. The activities of oil multinational companies, the Nigerian State, and other stakeholders displace people from their livelihoods/communities which invariably affects their health.
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