By Maja RomanoPublished on
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In 2017, the United Nations Environment Programme issued a report that found benzene in parts of Nigeria at levels over 900 times above World Health Organisation guidelines. In some areas there is an eight-centimetre layer of refined oil floating on groundwater, destroying one of the richest regions of biodiversity in the world. There is a lack of adequate participation and technical knowledge of government agencies to ensure in-depth monitoring and data collection at oil facilities. Insufficient funding also hampers monitoring and documentation while natural areas continue to be destroyed.
Nigeria-based APC member Media Awareness and Justice Initiative (MAJI) has been actively contributing to APC’s work at the intersection of environmental justice and digital technologies. Though relatively new to the network, MAJI’s engagement in environmental issues in Nigeria goes back a number of years. Originally initiated as a “youth-oriented project that sought to bring much needed capacity building and trainings to young people and marginalised groups across the Niger Delta”, MAJI has worked hard to develop their “human-centred” methodologies to increase awareness, build capacity and increase community voices on environmental and human rights protections.
With the help of an APC member grant, MAJI was able to develop their impactful Soot Mapping Project, which uses low cost and open data technology to monitor air pollution in Rivers State, the oil nexus of the Nigerian oil industry. Throughout the project, MAJI deployed air quality monitors in several locations with a view to collecting air quality and temperature readings to provide the needed data for evidenced-based engagement. Its work is not only revealing but also imperative: there seem to be many environmental policies in place but little implementation, an issue that resonates across Africa. We told the story of this project in our ongoing Seeding Change series, including how they collaborated with another APC member Open Culture Fund (OCF) in Taiwan.
On 29 June, MAJI also co-hosted an #EcoThursday discussion on APC’s Twitter account, speaking about experiences with digital technologies and their potential to provide real-time data for effective environmental awareness, policy development and evidence-based campaigns and advocacy. The photo essay above is based on this discussion and outlines Maji's journey to build citizen engagement through data collection to expose and hopefully mitigate the environmental devastation and pollution caused by Nigeria’s oil industry.
For more information about MAJI’s work, read APC's Seeding change article about how MAJI is helping communities mobilise open data to challenge oil industry pollution in Nigeria. You can also learn about how the Soot Mapping Project is bringing people together to map air pollution across the country.
MAJI has also produced several short videos on the impacts of oil pollution and the work it has been doing in collaboration with other partners.
All images and videos courtesy of Media Awareness and Justice Initiative (MAJI).