Umuolu Community Optimistic of a Better Future Devoid of Wastages After Fishing Festival with YEAC-Solar Electricity
The Chiefs, Elders, women, youths and people of Umuolu Community in Ndokwa East Local Government Area of Delta State have expressed optimism for a better future devoid of wastage of their fishes after fishing festival as recorded this calendar year with the Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre’s (YEAC-Nigeria) Solar Mini-Grid Electricity Project coming on stream in the community soon.
The community leadership and people expressed the hope when they received the Executive Director of YEAC-Nigeria, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface in the community in a Council of Chiefs and Elders’ meeting on Thursday, March 16, 2023.
Umuolu Community has an annual fishing competition/festival that holds twice within 10 days annually. This year, the festival too took place on March 15 and again March 20.
The community had on March 15, before the arrival of ADVOCACY CENTRE’S team for site clearing and dilapidated building decommissioning held a fishing festival in the community’s lake. Speaking to the YEAC’s Executive Director on reception by the Council of Chiefs and Elders, the community lamented the wastages of fishes caught during the festival as there is no electricity to power any storage facility to preserve the fishes and before women go go about drying the fish, majority of them have gotten bad and wastages recorded. While urging YEAC and its contractors to fast-track work on the Solar Mini-Grid being constructed in the community, they expressed hope and optimism that when the project comes on stream, they will be able to use the electricity to preserve their fishes and have fresh fish to eat and sell all year long till the next fishing festival.
Speaking further, the community said that the wastage of their fish this year is the worst in the history of the community and even worse than the coronavirus year 2020 because of the Naira redesign policy of government, cash crunch and absence of cash in circulation coupled with fuel scarcity and high costs which also affected transportation of people thus making it difficult for people to travel to the community and buy the fish from them to minimize the wastages.
Walking through parts of the community one can perceive the odour of smelling fish and visiting some homes where women are still struggling to dry the fish, over 30hours from the time of harvesting, you could see those that are already smelling with some still ‘fresh’ and waiting to be dried.
Responding the Executive Director of YEAC-Nigeria sympathized with the Chiefs, Elders, woman, youths and the people of Umuolu over the economic loses and assured them that this year which became the worst in the history of the community over fish loses will also become the last year that such losses will be recorded as all things being equal, the YEAC Solar Mini Grid Electricity Project will come on stream before the end of the year and provide electricity for fish preservation on the community for them to not only eat but have fresh fish to sell all year round. Adding that, “This project will benefit the community immensely and boast your economic potentials as there will be standby electricity from the solar mini grid project. The community can thus stop this wastage of fish through cold room and refrigeration for fish preservation and be able to continue enjoying their fresh fish harvested during annual fishing festival and other fishing adventures all year round and and put wastages of this nature to a permanent end.
The Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC-Nigeria) and YEAC-UK are poised to work together, collaborate with local and international partners to raise the profile of communities and improve their living conditions in the Niger Delta where decades of fossil fuel extraction activities has not also further impoverished the people through the destruction of their traditional sources of livelihoods such as fishing and farming by environmental and ecosystem pollution but constant gas flaring that brighten up the environment day and night making the survival of many species difficult and soot pollution riff. With the YEAC SOLAR MINI GRID Electricity Project and its promotion of renewable energy in oil-rich and impacted communities in the Niger Delta, a brighter future is sure for both the older and new generations of the indigenous peoples of Umuolu Community and others in Nigeria.