A non-governmental organisation (NGO), the African Centre for Climate Actions and Rural Development (ACCARD), has commence a series of grassroot programmes to build resilience of rural communities on COVID-19 recovery, climate change and flood management in the Niger Delta.

Freeman Elohor, Centre Coordinator for ACCARD presenting an award to to the Vice Chancellor, FUPR Effurun, Delta State

The programme, which was flagged-off in Ndokwa West Local Government of Delta State on Thursday, June 25, 2020, is entitled “Building Community Resilience on Post COVID-19, Climate Change and Flood Management.” It is being held in collaboration with Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Fidelia Oyemike Foundation, FUPRE Energy Solutions Ltd., and Centre for Environment and Sustainable Livelihood Projects (CESLP).

Freeman Elohor, Centre Coordinator for ACCARD, urge participants who are community leaders drawn from the Ndokwa to convey to the people that COVID-19 is real, and the global reports of sicknesses and deaths should provide an insight to the deadly nature of the virus. He urged participants to observe the recommended health tips which include keeping physical distancing, use of facemask in public places, personal hygiene and proper sanitation/hygiene.

According to him, the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdown has negatively impacted livelihoods and the economy. “There is thus the need to adapt your individual and corporate lifestyle, as well as other livelihood activities in line with current demands, especially as COVID-19 has no cure at moment,” he said.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Omonigho Otanocha, who is a Senior Lecturer at the Federal University of Petroleum Resources Effurun, Delta State and the CEO of FUPRE Energy Solutions Ltd., provided an insight into waste-to-wealth principles in flood management and environmental management. Participants learnt that most of their actions, such as indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste, can be converted into money through simple and local management.

While encouraging community leaders to lead the effort to always clean-up water channels to reduce the impact of flooding in their communities, he listed ways they can generate income from environmental wastes. According to him, the knowledge of plastic waste for instance can help to reduce their numbers in the environment.

During a panel discussion session, participants explored their effort in sensitising the people on COVID-19, the support they provided during the lockdown and how to manage the coming flooding, as well as climate change ravaging the livelihood of the communities.

They discussed the individual, council, and support to families during the lockdown and ways to build better future resilience. They encouraged participants to form themselves into well organised groups to present their needs, and suggested ways to support them with a promise to avail them the opportunity.

The leaders collectively agreed to campaign for a legislation that will promote afforestation in the respective communities with four trees per compound both old and new, and ban on deforestation with strict punishment for offenders. They ended with a promise to work with the programme organisers, to host town hall meetings.

The event climaxed with the setting up of the Ndokwa West Community COVID-19 Recovery Climate Leadership Team and inauguration of the Fidelia Oyemike Foundation for women empowerment.