Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC) on Thursday, November 19, 2020 witnessed the groundbreaking ceremony of Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development’s (CEHRD’S) Fish Farm project being set up for some artisanal crude oil refiners in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State as alternative means of livelihoods to disabuse their minds from returning to artisanal refining that contributes to environmental pollution in Ogoni.(Briefing Mogho Council of Chief and Elders about the Fish Farm Project)

The inauguration of this project came three days after Advocacy Centre organized training for artisanal crude oil refiners in Ogoni and surrounding communities on alternative means of livelihoods which held in Ogoniland on Monday, November 16, 2020 and ten Months after Advocacy Centre organized a State-wide training for artisanal refiners in Rivers State on December 16, 2019 where Fish Farming, Modular Refineries, Cinematology, Renewable Energy, Bio-toilet system technology and Rice Farming among many others were proposed as alternative means of livelihoods for artisanal refiners. On the CEHRD’s Fish Farm Pilot Project sited in Mogho Community in Gokana Local Government Area, 20 ex-artisanal refiners and non-refiners alike are billed to be trained and empowered with Fish Farming Skills. The beneficiaries who are selected from six communities including B-Dere, K-Dere, Gbe, Bomu, Bodo and Mogho have at least eight women amongst them. The participants would participate and learn while the construction of the fish ponds are ongoing and then be trained on fish farming methodologies and also have the farm stocked for them. They would then train the fish to maturity, sell, raise fund to maintain the facility and then also train others in the skills. The beneficiaries who would be certificated at the end of the training also stand the chances of being empowered with starter packs by CEHRD and its partners on completion of their skills acquisition program on Fish Farm expected to last for six months. The Executive Director of Advocacy Centre, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface was in July 2020 engaged by CEHRD as Research Consultant for a based line study to determine “What are the livelihood frameworks/needs as well as priority jobs/skills needed by artisanal refiners in the Niger Delta as alternative to artisanal refineries?” and the report from which led to this project. Thus, since then, Advocacy Centre has been partnering with CEHRD for the provision of alternative means of livelihoods for artisanal refiners and was given the opportunity to nominate fifteen (15) out of the twenty (20) beneficiaries of the Fish Farm project from specified communities in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State.While some fish ponds would be in the concrete forms, others would be set out in large surface tarpaulins. (Sample large surface tarpaulin. Photo Credit: Steven Kpea laying the Foundation of the Fish Farm Project in Mogho Community)

The flag-off ceremony started with a courtesy visit to the Palace of the Highness and Paramount Ruler of Mogho Community, Chief Steven Kpea by a team led by Prof. Nenniibarini Zabbey, CEHRD’s Coordinator with Advocacy Centre represented at the event by its Executive Director, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface. Speaking at the King’s Palace, Prof. Zabbey thanked the Paramount Ruler of Mogho community for availing his organization the opportunity to site the project. Prof. Zabbey further explained the rationale behind the project, adding that the selection of Mogho was due to its peaceful nature compared to other communities in the area and called on the chief and people of Mogho to provide security for the project’s facilities aimed at empowering the youths especially those involved in artisanal refining that contributes to environmental pollution. Speaking at the Palace of Chief Kpea, the Executive Director of Advocacy Centre thanked Chief Kpea for the hosting and further explained how the beneficiaries of the project were selected based on needs assessment study earlier carried out for CEHRD on the project and contacts made through the Modular Refinery movement for artisanal refiners in his community among others in the area. Earlier, CEHRD’s Project Manager, Rukky Siakpere-Ekine introduced the Council of Chief and Elders to members of the team and gave more details about the project and the information was collaborated and consolidated by Dr. Sam Kabari also of CEHRD in his speech.

The team thereafter moved from the Palace of Chief Kpea to the project’s site where the consultant explained more about the project and particularly stating how waste water from the fish would be channeled to ensuring environmental protection and sustainability in the immediate area and community. The project consultant and trainer said Catfish would be reared and sold to waiting markets including those demanding for fingerlings from neigbouring countries including Cameroon.

(Cross section of project beneficiaries receiving briefings from project leads)

Some of the project beneficiaries expressed happiness to have been selected to benefit from the project, thanked CEHRD, YEAC for the nomination and promised to take their training very seriously to ensuring that the project objectives are achieved.

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