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EVALUATION OF THE IMPACT OF NIGER DELTA DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION’S COMPLETED WATER PROJECT ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF COMMUNITIES
RIVERS AND BAYELSA STATES, NIGERIA, 2001-2007
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Background of the Study
The discovery of petroleum oil in Nigeria in 1952 launched the country into international limelight as an oil-producing nation (Ekpo, 2004). However, prior to this time, the Nigerian economy was purely agrarian in nature; hence Turcotte (2002) observed that initially, Nigeria had been an agrarian nation, heavily dependent on agricultural products for survival. Commenting on the state of the Nigerian economy prior to the oil boom, Obadan (2004) also noted that agriculture was the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy, accounting for two-thirds of the Gross Domestic Topic (GDP), about two-thirds of labour employment, substantial supply of raw materials for industries and large production of non-oil export earnings. With the emergence of this crude oil, the nation had a great hope of better life in the years ahead, while the area known as the Niger Delta region hoped for good life, in terms of infrastructural facilities, like taps flowing with water, uninterrupted power supply, and motorable roads.
The Niger Delta Region is the area that houses the crude oil and gas deposits found in Nigeria today. According to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) (2003), the Niger Delta Region consists of nine states of the federation, namely, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross-River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers States. NDDC further stated that there are 185 local government areas in the region and a population of about 20 million people, with 40 different ethnic groups and 250 dialects spread across 5,000 communities. The Willink Commission in its report described the location of the Niger Delta Area, thus:
To the east of Ibo Plateau lies the valley of Cross River. This forms a broad vertical strip containing people who are not Ibos. Across the south of the region from the Niger in the west to the mountains in the East, stretches a broad horizontal belt of swamps and low-lying country. These two stripes of the coastal belts and the Cross Rivers valley together make a rather sprawling reversal “L” which encloses the Ibo plateau. In the swamp and creek country of the South-West there is an area in which the predominant tribal ethnic group is that of the Ijaws… Further north on the Cross River are many tribes intermingled in a confusing multitude… (Willink, 1958).
This region covers an area of about 70,000 square kilometers, and is traversed and criss-crossed by a large number of rivulets, streams, canals and creeks. The Niger Delta region also accounts for oil reserves of about 30 billion barrels and gas reserves of about 160trillion cubit feet and these gas reserves are associated with the oil reserves (Nigerian Environmental and Study Action Team, 2002). The region is also rich in cash crops, including oil palm, cocoa, coconut, rubber, a diversity of aquatic resources and fertile land that support all year round agriculture.
However, with the exploration and exploitation of oil in the region, the fertile land as well as water became degraded and polluted, thereby affecting the education, health, economic, social development of the people, and the entire means of their livelihood negatively. It is in view of this deplorable state that various commissions were established in order to improve the condition of the people.
The emergence of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) could be traced from the Henry Willink Commission’s recommendation of 1958 that the Niger Delta should be given a special development attention. In response to Henry Willink’s Commission, Jonathan (2004) revealed that the Niger Development Board was established in 1960, with the mandate of developing the region; however, this objective was not achieved. More so, other agencies such as the Niger Delta Basin Development Authority (NDBDA), Presidential Implementation Committee Task Force and Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) also failed to meet the demands for the development of the region (Ekpo, 2004). These efforts failed, among other reasons due to lack of regional master plan, poorly planned and seldom completed crises management initiatives, leadership instability, poor funding, duplication of efforts and official recklessness (NDDC, 2003). Available record showed that funding has always been the major constraint to the development of the projects (Ekpo, 2004). It was this inadequate funding among others that made life uncomfortable for both the people and other species such as plants and animals from crude oil spillage.
In spite of the region’s rich resource endowment, its immense potential for economic growth and sustainable development, the region remains in a deplorable state with Rivers and Bayelsa States mostly affected (Okecha, 2003). Hence, the need to compare the impact of projects on the development of the two states. Throwing more light on the state of the region, Ekpo (2004) opined that it was partly the inability or unwillingness of the government as at 1960 to finance the activities of Niger Delta Development Board that culminated in its failure and demise. He then stated that the Revenue Act of 1991 was embraced as an instrument that could contribute to the development of the region. This Act however provided allocation of only 1.5 percent derivation fund for the actualisation of the development of the Niger Delta Region. This amount was however not commensurate to the enormity of the problems of underdevelopment of the region. Thus, this partly explains why the Presidential Implementation Committee (PIC) and the Niger Delta Basin Development Authority (NDBDA) which followed did not accomplish much in spite of the people’s great expectation.
In view of the failure of the past intervention to develop the Niger Delta, and consequent upon the neglect of the area, environmental degradation, social disruption, endemic rate of poverty, poor health condition, high unemployment rate, a hostile relationship ensued between the oil companies and the restive youths of the region. This is rightly expressed by Chukwuezi (2009) when he observed that the increasing marginalisation of the Niger Delta as the main oil producing region in the country, the environmental degradation, discontent with the multinational companies, pervasive poverty, perceived insensitivity on the part of the state and failure of the state to ameliorate the sufferings of the people have pushed the inhabitants of the region particularly the youths to the edge. These youths out number the rest members of people in the two states involved in violent demonstrations such as kidnapping of expatriate staff of the oil companies, murder, destruction of properties and vandalisation of past commissions’ offices and agencies established by the government to provide basic utilities (Gbadegesin and Owolabi, 2004).
The emergence of OMPADEC in 1992 to address development projects in oil producing states also suffered inadequate funding. The commission was expected to liaise with the government and the people to execute projects and programmes and materially compensate communities, local governments and states that had suffered or experienced damage or deprivation caused by petroleum exploitation. Gbadegesin and Owolabi (2004) observed that people in Niger Delta Region have been complaining of marginalisation, infrastructural neglect, unfair revenue allocation- an indication of the region’s underdevelopment constrained by limited fund and other factors. Ekpo (2004) disclosed that 641 abandoned projects and schemes worth $8.7 billion were left by OMPADEC. These projects have since been inherited by the NDDC for completion. The failure of interventions by various governments to redress the situation in the Niger Delta led to the establishment of the NDDC in 2001, under the NDDC Act of 2000, by the then President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo. The President saddled the commission with specific mission as noted by NDDC (2003) ‘to facilitate the rapid, even and sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative and politically peaceful’ (p.9).
Thus, the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) was charged with the following mandates:
- Formulation of policies and guidelines for the development of the Niger Delta area.
- Conception, planning and implementation of projects and programmes for sustainable development of the Niger Delta area including roads, jetties, waterways, health, education, employment, industrialisation, agriculture, fisheries, housing, urban development, water supply, electricity, telecommunicaitons, etc.
- Surveying the Niger Delta region in order to ascertain measures, which are necessary to promote its physical and socio-economic development.
- Preparing Master Plans and schemes designed to promote the physical development of the Niger Delta region.
- Implementation of all the measures approved for the development of the Niger Delta region by the Federal Governemnt and member states of the commission.
- Identifying factors inhibiting the development of the Niger Delta region and assisting the member states in the formulation and implementation of policies to ensure sound and efficient mangement of the resources of the Niger Delta region.
- Assessing and reporting on any policy being funded or carried out in the Niger Delta region by oil and gas companies and any other company, including non-governemntal organisations, as well as ensuring that funds released for such projects are properly utilised.
- Tackling ecological and environmental problems that arise from the exploration of oil mineral in the Niger Delta region and advising the Federal Governemnt and member states on the prevention and control of oil spillage, gas flaring and environmental pollution.
- Liaising with the various oil mineral and gas prospecting and producing companies on all matters of pollution, prevention and control.
- Executing such other works and performing such other functions, which, in the opinion of the Commisison, are required for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region and its people.
It is worthy of note to state that prior to these NDDC mandates, most settlements in the Niger Delta region depend on untreated surface water and wells; which lead to health problems from waterborne diseases (Niger Delta Environmental Studies (NDES), (2000). Niger Delta Environmental Studies further stated that poor access to adequate drinking water has had serious implications for the general health, environment, economic activity and sustainable livelihoods. This unhealthy condition of the people in the region especially in Rivers and Bayelsa States necessitated the execution of water projects in the states. Some of these water projects in Rivers States are in Edehua, Kreigani, Obrikom and Rumuodumanya. In Bayelsa State, the water projects are found in Kaiama, Igbogene, Agudama – Ekpetiama, and Tombia-ekpetiama.
Since the establishment of the NDDC, billions of Naira have been expended by the Federal Government through the commission, for the implementation of various development projects such as health centres, jetties, electrification, schools, markets, skill acquisition centres, roads and water in the NDDC region. These projects which aimed at developing the Niger Delta region, improving their health conditions, eliminating poverty and improving the standard of living of the people include among others, providing access to safe drinking water especially in Rivers and Bayelsa States where the situation is highly deplorable. Water is a precious natural resource, vital for life, development and environmental preservation. Gbadegesin and Olorunfemi (2007) explain that water can be a matter of life and death, depending on how it occurs and how it is managed. Gbadegesin and Olorunfemi further noted that when it is too much or little water can bring destruction, misery or death. On the other hand, if managed adequately, water can be seen as instrument for economic survival and growth. This was rightly captured by the WHO/UNICEF (2004) that water can be an instrument for poverty alleviation, lifting people out of the degradation of having to live with poor access to safe water and sanitation; while at the same time bringing prosperity to all. WHO/UNICEF concluded that when it is inadequate in either quantity or quality it can be a limiting factor in poverty alleviation and economic recovery, resulting in poor health and low productivity, food insecurity and constrained economic development. WHO (2003) affirms that improvement in sanitation, hygiene and water access contributes to improved health, generates savings for households and natural health budgets through reduced costs and losses of time. It is worrisome that even in the midst of rivers and oceans, the NDDC states still lack water to drink due to the activities of oil companies. This poor condition of unsafe drinking water in the region was emphasised by Azaiki (2003) when he observed that the people have continued to live with a range of environmental problems ranging from health hazards to lack of safe water and these have perpetrated violence and other crimes.
A preliminary study and review conducted on the condition of the Niger Delta region prior to the provision of potable water through NDDC water scheme showed that the environmental base of communities in the oil producing areas have been seriously depleted as a result of oil producing activities. The water situation prior to the institution of water project by NDDC in the Niger Delta region was deplorable. Nsirimovu (2000) explains that the pollutants introduced into the environment from exploration and exploitation operations and refinery wastes also have polluted land, water, and air in the NDDC regions. With the resultant effect of absence of safe water, Etim (2003) reported that a spillage from a pipeline owned by the Shell Petroleum Company in Karama community of Okordia/Zarama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State caused enormous economic and environmental damage and has reduced access to good supply of water. This adverse effect of contaminated water in the region was rightly captured by Oporoma (2011) when he echoed that the only sources of water in the NDDC states are contaminated; killing aquatic lives and farmlands were being degraded continually, thus, reducing the basic sources of livelihood. This reduction of basic sources of livelihood was further stressed by Anand (2007) that lack of access to water in the NDDC region due to oil prospects has negatively affected agricultural productivity, food, security and peoples’ livelihoods.
Oporoma (2011) submits that there were high rates of child mortality resulting from the poor quality of water supply in the NDDC region before the emergence of the water projects. The economic activities in the region also suffered setback as more time was consumed in search of water. Hence, Olokesusi (2004) maintains that women in the region walk up to three hours to get minimal water, water becomes too valuable for washing and its important defense against infection was lost. The Niger Delta region also witnessed incessant crisis caused by insufficient water supply (Ostrom, 1990). Ostrom further observed that at the village level, water scarcity has triggered local ‘water wars’ between villages, and conflict among community members over competing priorities for water. Still commenting on the adverse effect of insufficient water supply from the social point of view, Oporoma (2011) maintains that lack of access to potable drinking water has contributed to high rate of unemployment of youth in the region, leading to frustration among them. This is as a result of the contamination of their water which serves as means of livelihood. The central position of health and water issues in the agitation of the people, especially in Rivers and Bayelsa states, has made it necessary that an evaluation study of this nature be conducted.
Thus, evaluation is defined as the process of describing an evaluand (the entity being evaluated – programme, process, organisation, person etc.), and judging its merit and worth, (Guba and Lincoln, 2001). ‘Merit’ means the inherent goodness of something, while ‘worth’ means the comparative usefulness of something to somebody in a particular context. UNESCO (1984) defined evaluation as a process that attempts to determine as systematically and objectively as possible the relevance, effectiveness and impact of activities in the light of its objectives. Evaluation is therefore concerned with collecting and providing information, and using such information to determine the extent of the effectiveness or quality of the programme. In the words of Stufflebeam (1975), evaluation is the process of delineating, obtaining and providing useful information for judging decision alternatives. No wonder, Best and Khan (2001) saw evaluation as a process used to determine what has happened during a given activity or in an institution. The purpose of evaluation to them was to see if a given programme is working; if an institution is successful according to the goals set for it or if the original intention is being successfully carried out. The objective of setting up NDDC is to facilitate the development of the NDDC states in all its ramifications through development projects and an evaluative study will enable us determine the extent to which the development objective has been achieved, specifically through the water projects.
Development is a many-sided process. Within the context of this study, it is a purposeful change in society that contributes to the social, economic well-being and advancement of people without creating any disharmony. The Niger Delta Development Commission (2006) sees development from the economic point of view as the only way to sustain alleviation of poverty, improve community services and living standards. In terms of health, the World Health Organisation (1946) submits that it is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Manby (1999a) aptly observed that the incidences of water-borne and other types of diseases have been on the increase among the inhabitants of the Niger Delta region. These harmful effects on human health caused by the high demand of oil produce in the region had resulted in the struggle for comfortable existence and livelihood of the people. Commenting on the social aspect, Ogili (2004) posits that it is the ability and willingness of an individual in a society to contribute his best in any form to the collective output of services from which he will in turn receive services that enrich him materially, culturally and emotionally.
Similarly, development from the education point of view entails an indispensable means of realising other human rights. Education generally, is a primary vehicle by which economically and socially marginalised adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and obtain the means to participate fully in their communities (UNICEF, 2011). UNESCO (1990) once observed during the World Declaration on Education that more than 100 million children , involving at least 60 million girls have no access to primary schooling, more than 960 million adults, two thirds of whom are women are illiterate, and functional illiteracy is a significant problem in all countries, industralised and developing, and more than one-third of the worlds adults have no access to printed knowledge, new skills, and technologies that could improve the quality of their lives and help them shape, and adapt to social and cultural change. Thus, an improved environment is that which is anchored on quality education where value and norms of the society are harnessed. This also presupposes that educational development of a society will not only empower the people, but will help in the fight against social imbalance that is prevalent in the region.
Consequently, development could be seen to have various components which include education, economic, social, political, and cultural. For people to participate in the development process, the objectives of the development project must be congruent to the needs of the people. Furthermore, the development project should contribute to the education, health, economic and social development of the people, hence, the variables of development that this study intends to address. A comparison of the responses from Rivers and Bayelsa is very necessary as it will enable the commission determine which location should be given more priority so as to reduce poverty and invariably eschew violence.
It is against the above background of the need for reduced agitation, all- round development of NDDC states especially Rivers and Bayelsa States and the central position of water in achieving development that the researcher evaluated the extent to which the water projects of NDDC has impacted on the development of the communities in Rivers and Bayelsa States.
Statement of the Problem
It is evident from the background that the NDDC was set up as a result of poor quality of life in the Niger Delta region, despite the region’s oil wells. This unhealthy situation resulted to severe agitation in form of youth restiveness, militancy, kidnapping, seizing of oil wells, illegal bunkering and robbery by the people of Niger Delta region. The agitation is worse in Rivers and Bayelsa States as noted by Okecha (2003), and Okojie & Aileman (2003). This agitation led to the mandate given to NDDC to initiate and execute various projects that will better the lives of the people in the Niger Delta region. These projects include health centres, jetties, electrification, schools, markets, skill acquisition centres, roads and water among others. The water schemes are central to the agitation process as noted by Azaiki (2003) since it was contained as a mandate of the NDDC. In spite of these projects, the agitation for the development of the region and vices are still on. This has informed the researcher to ask this question; Are the NDDC water projectss achieving their stated objectives in terms of improving the quality of life of the people? This question can only be answered through an evaluative study of the projects. Furthermore, since the inception of the NDDC water projectss in Rivers and Bayelsa States over seven years ago, the non evaluation of the projects have created information and knowledge gap. There is therefore the need to evaluate the extent to which the water project has impacted on the quality of life of the people. It is therefore the problem of this study to evaluate the extent to which the water projects have impacted on the development of the communities in Rivers and Bayelsa States.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the extent to which Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) water projects have impacted on the development of communities in Rivers and Bayelsa States. The specific objectives of the study are to:
- Determine the extent to which the NDDC water projectss have impacted on the educational development of the people in the communities of Rivers and Bayelsa State;
- Ascertain the extent to which the NDDC water projectss have improved the health condition of people in the communities of Rivers and Bayelsa States;
- Ascertain the extent to which the NDDC water projectss have enhanced the economic wellbeing of people in the communities of Rivers and Bayelsa States;
- Ascertain the extent to which the NDDC water projectss have impacted on the reduction of social vices among youths from Rivers and Bayelsa States;
- Ascertain the factors that constrain the NDDC water projectss in Rivers and Bayelsa States from achieving its development objectives.
Significance of the Study
The findings of this study are expected to be of immense benefit to a number of people, NDDC communities, NDDC, government and other researchers.
The study will be of significant benefit to students and pupils since the attention given in search of water before going to school will be translated into academic activities owing to the nearness of water points to the people which will consequently boost their performance.
The findings of this study stand to benefit the entire NDDC community members because it provided them with useful information on how the water scheme has contributed to the overall wellbeing of the communities in the areas of education, health, economic and social development.
The study will be beneficial to the NDDC because it will provide the commission with useful information on how their development is and how the water scheme project has succeeded in contributing to the education, health, economic and social development of communities in Rivers and Bayelsa States, thus low educational status, social vices, economic instability, health problems will be reduced to a minimum standard if not totally eradicated.
The findings of this study will be of significant benefit to both federal and state governments in that factors inhibiting the effective implementation of community development projects with particular reference to water projects by Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) could be surmounted.
Furthermore, the study will be significant to researchers as it will provide them with needed information and theories that will enable them to critically review and update policies relating to community development projects in Niger Delta States.
The theoretical significance of the study will be tilted to the Frustration-Aggression Theory propounded by Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer and Sears in 1939. The theory states that aggression is caused by frustration. Thus, the study has helped in sensitising the government on the plight of the suffering masses of the Niger Delta region and inspiring them to implement more intervention programmes that will help to cushion the incessant crises that are prevalent in the region.
The study stands to benefit future researchers in similar areas as information obtained serve as data base for future researches.
The following research questions guided the study;
- To what extent has the NDDC water projectss impacted on the educational development of the people in the communities of Rivers and Bayelsa States?
- To what extent has the NDDC water projectss improved the health condition of people in the communities of Rivers and Bayelsa States?
- To what extent has the NDDC water projectss enhanced the economic wellbeing of people in the communities of Rivers and Bayelsa States?
- To what extent has the NDDC water projectss impacted on the reduction of social vices among youths in Rivers and Bayelsa States?