Shell: Women Advocate For Ecosystem Restoration, Decry Lack Of Consultations

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Hand holding plant on soil in over cracked earth

The Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, along with allied community-based women organisations, has expressed deep concern over Shell’s announcement to divest onshore assets without conducting necessary consultations with communities affected by years of environmental degradation. 

The women’s groups particularly highlight Shell PLC’s plans to sell shares in Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to Renaissance Africa Energy, a consortium of investors, raising alarm about the lack of guidelines and proper consultations.

As affected women in the Niger Delta, they voice their distress over the swift nature of divestment plans by Shell, AGIP, Exxon Mobil and Total Energies. The lack of government-provided guidelines to address pollution issues before the departure of these corporations is a major concern for the women, emphasising the failure of these companies to establish women development funds to support those affected by oil extraction activities.

The women in the Niger Delta, who bear the brunt of oil exploitation, emphasised the vital roles women play in securing family subsistence income through agricultural activities and trade. The ecological degradation caused by oil extraction affects women’s economic activities, leading to a decline in crop yields and increased poverty.

The lack of information about the reputations of the new companies acquiring the assets of Shell, AGIP, and Exxon Mobil raises concerns for the women. They implore the government not to approve divestment plans until polluted farmlands are cleaned up and restored by these companies. The persistence of gas flares in various areas, coupled with ongoing impacts of oil extraction on farming, fishing and hunting, prompts the women to reject what they term “irresponsible divestment”.

In a joint statement, signed by leaders of various women development initiatives, the women called on President Bola Tinubu to ensure that no divestment occurs without ecosystem restoration. They demanded that companies divesting their oil assets commit to cleaning all polluted sites in the Niger Delta and restoring lost livelihood opportunities. The women vehemently rejected irresponsible divestment and urged the Rivers State governor to “obtain a court injunction to halt the sale of any assets related to this matter”.

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