Finalist – Nigeria: Addressing Iwerekhan Environmental Concerns with Social Media
With the long history of oil extraction in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria and the environmental pollution and loss of livelihoods this instigates, documentation of impacts as experienced by the local people has become very necessary. We see a profound opportunity to harness the social media platforms for training/Workshops giving a voice to the marginalized Niger Delta communities and to push oil companies & government to be transparent in their dealings with them.This project seeks to harness the social media phenomenon to give a voice to these historically marginalized people in the society
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
Iwherekan Community, Ughelli South ,Delta State
Describe the specific community with whom you will be working.
Iwherekan community is located in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria. The major occupation in Iwherekan is farming and fishing. The community also hosts oil wells and flow stations belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company(SPDC).Oil spills and gas flaring have truncated their livelihoods for many years.
Women and youths who have no social media background in the area. Their voices have been shut out for many years because they lack access to basic information on how to mobilize for change. They also lack access to information and available technologies employed to express views on the environmental injustices they face. Engaging the Iwherekan community can help build leadership for continuity, which can positively help to attract development to the area.
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
Democracy/environmental protection is at the forefront of the worlds’ sustainability concerns.However oil industry activities are at the centre of the destruction of the environment especially in Nigeria where over 50 years of oil extraction is dubbed “resource curse”.Community folks that benefit from the trainings will use severalplatform to share their stories, concerns, aspiration, and contributions, among others, to development.The content that will convey their feelings will be a blog that will allow for comments.Working collaboratively with our media outreach partners, we will design and implement strategic events and training workshops on citizens’ and community Live Blogging, Digital Video/Photography blogging.These'll be linked toERA website www.eraction.org to enhance visibility
What technologies and digital tools do you plan to use in the trainings?
Describe the connections that you or your organization have already established that will contribute to the success of the project.
The Environmental Rights Action is a grassroots organization that has established connections with the Journalist Network for the Environment and the Host Communities Network of Nigeria. These networks have expertise on the use of the media and mobilizing community people to raise their voices, widen freedom of expression on environmental issues as it concerns the underrepresented/under reported community people. Their activities will help build sustainability among the proposed community media network to engage policy makers and ultimately engender environmentally friendly laws in the country. We also intend to use the community stories as a pivotal to reach other neigbouring communities, so that they can be encouraged and determined to share their concerns and stories and demand justice
How many participants do you think will be involved in your project?
The project is targeted at 50 direct individuals and 250 indirect individuals; women and youth groups and community people via a step down training expected to be monitored and facilitated by beneficiaries of the project. We shall have a town hall meetings and field visit with the participants to sustain their interest and developed communication materials to inform and engage them.The bulk of the work will be done in first four months of the project. This will be with selected members of the community who expressed particularly strong interest in citizen media and local issues forums. On the introductory event using multimedia with short presentations will be offered across the areas visited, which will include visiting local women and youths, local service clubs
Describe which technologies, tools, and media you will focus on when training participants.
Share emerging lessons from online citizen engagement and media. This will promote grass roots citizen generated content and provide direct support to share their own stories as issues that are important to them in also relating to their sustainable development.
Establish at online local issues Forum which will be linked to the ERA/FoEN website to promote citizen participation and stronger communication. Led by local volunteer steering communities, the forums and locally selected citizen media features will include Digital photography, social networking, blogging and audio broadcasting, among others will be used for training participants.
Describe the facilities where you will hold the workshops.
Environmental Rights Action, will engage community people for workshop/training. The community's civic center will be used as the venue, two laptops and three
desk top computers will be used with Internet enabled USB Modems. Digital camera will be used to take footage; also five internet enabled phones will be used to facilitate sharing stories on the internet platform which will established.
Writing pads and other writing materials will also be provided for the training. Media partners and trainers will be involved to train community people throughout the workshop, will will help to build leadership and confidence among youths and women to engage and share their stories using internet enabled platform. This center will be known as the community's online resource center.
What is your current relationship with the community with whom you plan to work? What makes you the most appropriate individual or organization to implement this project?
The community has a history of oil extraction,accompanied by environmental pollution and injustice experienced by the people who have an unfair share of resources.ERA/FoEN has worked with this community during our campaign to end gas flaring and oil spills in the area, as a pivotal to neighboring communities in the Niger delta.Currently,the impacted community is under-represented in decision-making processes and they lack space on the social media platforms.They are cut off from participatory governance and decision-making processes.Their livelihoods lost in the maze of extractive activities carried out indiscriminately by oil companies.Therefore,giving them a voice to air their views will strengthen their resolve to uphold their rights to land & self-determination by sharing their stories
What specific challenges do you expect to face when planning and implementing your project?
As it currently stands, Iwerekan community has a population of about 5,000 people. We are engaging only 50 direct people (youths and Women) who will train others. We expect to face struggle for internet facilities (computers, mobile phones, digital cameras), because the available facilities may not be sufficient to train everyone at the same time. But we intend to break down the participants into 5 groups of 10 persons each to share 5 computers, and 5 internet enable mobile phones which will be used across all participants. This will retain leadership and continuity among the people to share and their stories for change. With the advent of community policing, facilities/equipments in the online resource center will be secured by the people.
How will you measure and evaluate the project’s impact, specifically: your primary participants, the wider regional community, or the global digital community?
An independent consultant will be engaged to evaluate the implementation of the project vis-à-vis set goals at the end of the project.However,strategic step is to spark the use of citizen media tools to encourage highly distributed content generated by individuals, civic organizations and local media.In areas where the locals show high interest, then we connect these often isolated individual or institutional efforts into community-wide online experience.The emergent leaders interested in community-wide collaborative effort will be invited toenter the 2nd stream of this project.They will be supported as they establish a local forum along with citizen media features of interests.we build sustainability attendees/Issues Forums with relevant online communities of practice across the internet
If your project were to be selected as a Rising Voices grantee, what would be the general timeline of project activities in 2013?
With an 8-month initiative beginning from May 12th to 20th December, 2013
Preliminary Visit/Documentations – 13th to 17th May
Engagement of media partners / experts- 27th to 30th May
Integration/identification/documentation among partners/ experts on techniques/facilities to engage – 3rd to 6th June
Familiarization visit with interest groups/community folks -12th to 14th June
Preparation of online networking and registration materials – 24th to 28th June
First and second phase of capacity building training/workshop with 50 direct individuals.1st july to 8th August .First Phase and second follow up/Feedback process on indirect individuals trained by community volunteers;19th August to 20th Sept.Lunching of the online resource centre of the community; 2nd October. Monitoring and Evaluation/Reporting processes/ Phase – 7th October to 20th December.
Detail a specific budget of up to $4,000 USD for operating costs.
Preliminary visit /documentation: 140 USD
Engagement forums of media partners/expects and documentations by experts: 150 USD
Familiarization visit with interest groups and community folks: 130 USD
Purchase of two Laptops: 650 USD
Purchase of Three Desk tops: 1,150 USD
Purchase of USB Modems: 350 USD
Purpose of Five Internet enable phones: 300 USD
Purpose of other computer hardware that will facilitate the training process: 100 USD
Equipping of workshop venue/cost of materials (Alternative electricity source, registration materials, renting chairs and Tables) : 200 USD
Transportation cost: 400 USD
Monitoring and Evaluations/reporting cost: 100 USD
Total Budget cost: 3,670 USD
Besides the microgrant funding, what other resources and support are you seeking for your project to ensure its success?
The project will need support in the area of training and education materials. These will include digital cameras to take large footage integrated into the training process, which will enhance digital videos and photography to share their stories .Rising Voices can also provide library materials for participants as reference materials which can also be used and lunch at the online resource center.
Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria