PRESS RELEASE

South African Community People Visit Oil Affected Communities in Nigeria to Introduce Bucket Brigade Air Monitoring

6 May 2005 - South African community people affected by heavy industrial development including the oil and petrochemical industry will be visiting Nigeria in May to work with local community people affected by the oil industry in Nigeria.

From May 8-15, community representatives from Boipatong, Sasolburg, Secunda, south Durban, Steel Valley and Richards Bay facilitated and joined by groundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa [1] who together with Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Friends of the Earth Nigeria [2] have organized the weeklong exchange of experience and events in the Niger Delta area, Nigeria. A groundWork USA representative from Boston,

During the visit groundWork and the community representatives will share experiences from the Bucket Brigade activities in South Africa and introduce the Bucket Brigade [3] air monitoring system to community people in Nigeria.
This visit is part of the groundWork Air Quality programme supported by the Danish government, which seeks to develop civil society ability to have a greater influence on environmental governance. This exchange program is part of a greater strategy of gathering information on industrial air pollution in South Africa and disseminating this information, working with community people to jointly pressure government for improved legislation, challenging dirty industrial development and developing a media strategy and awareness on air pollution issues facing South African citizens.

Asume Osuoka, of ERA, has welcomed this exchange between South Africa and Nigeria and is convinced that, “by sharing experiences and our collective pain of corporate abuse of our environments, we can start talking of an environmental justice movement within Africa that breaks the down the borders between African communities.”

Siziwe Khanyile, who has groundWork’s Air Quality Coordinator, recognises that “only through sharing of ideas and strategies will African community people be able to reflect a unified front against industrial pollution and corporate abuse.”

groundWork and ERA have been working together since July 2000.

The delegation will return to South Africa on Monday, 16 May 2005.

For more information call:


Footnotes:
[1] groundWork is a environmental justice organisation working with community people from around South Africa and increasingly in Southern Africa on environmental justice and human rights issues focusing on Air Pollution, Waste and Corporate Abuse. groundWork is the South African chapter of Friends of the Earth International (FoEI), the world environmental justice federation campaigning to protect the environment and to create sustainable societies and is a member of Oilwatch Africa.

[2] Environmental Rights Action (ERA) is a Nigerian advocacy non-governmental organisation founded on January 11, 1993 to deal with environmental human rights issues in Nigeria. ERA is the Nigerian chapter of Friends of the Earth International (FoEI), the world environmental justice federation campaigning to protect the environment and to create sustainable societies. ERA is the co-ordinating NGO in Africa for Oilwatch International, the global South network of groups concerned about the effects of oil on the environment of people who leave in oil-bearing regions. ERA is the premier win ner of the Sophie Prize. www.eraction.org

[3] The Bucket Brigade monitoring system was introduced into South Africa in May 2000, by Denny Larson of Communities for Better Environment (CBE) and Heeten Kalan of the South African Exchange Programme on Environmental Justice (SAEPEJ). Denny Larson is now with Global Community Monitor (GCM) and SAEPEJ is now groundWork USA. The Bucket Brigade has been useful in highlighting the industrial pollution that is dumped upon communities in South Africa. Results from the Bucket Brigade monitoring has been used to pressure government into passing the new Air Quality Act that was signed by President Mbeki in February 2005. For more information on pollution in industrial areas, click here.

S. (Bobby) Peek
groundWork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa
P.O. Box 2375
Pietermaritzburg
3200
South Africa
Tel: +27-33-342 5662
Fax: +27-33-342 5665
Cell: +27-82-464 1383
E-mail:
team@groundwork.org.za (General)
bobby@groundwork.org.za (Direct)