Oil, Gender and Agricultural Child Labour in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria: Implications for Sustainable Development

By Joseph-Obi, Chioma | Gender & Behaviour, December 2011 | Go to article overview

Oil, Gender and Agricultural Child Labour in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria: Implications for Sustainable Development


Joseph-Obi, Chioma, Gender & Behaviour


Abstract

The Niger Delta region of Nigeria continues to face the problem of agitations, violent conflicts, crimes, rural-urban migration, environmental degradation, militant resistance engendering a frightening state, characterized by violence and criminality in the form of kidnapping, prostitution, escalating unemployment, and vandalization. This paper examines how the activities of oil multinational corporations has compromised agriculture and child labour in the region. This paper is expository and analytical in thrust. It is based on data collected through a survey conducted amongst agricultural child labourers in Rivers State of Nigeria. The sample consisted of 180 respondents drawn from Afara, Kpite-Tai and Tombia, communities all in Rivers State using the purposive sampling technique. A total of 90 parents/guardians were also drawn from the three communities. The study assessed the relationship between oil and gas exploration, gender and the agricultural child labour. The relationship between household size and agricultural child labour and the relationship between health-related hazards and girl-child labour. Data generated from the survey were subjected to statistical analyses using simple percentages to establish primary correlation. It revealed that there is a significant relationship between (a) household size and child labour, and (b) oil and gas exploration and gender and child labour. This paper, was also viewed through the lens of Marxian Feminist Theory. Finally, some recommendations were made, top of which the existing poverty alleviation programmes in the country should be targeted at the girls' and women first.

Keywords: Gender, Agricultural child labour, Niger Delta, Poverty, Oil, Multinationals.

Introduction

Nigeria is the 7th largest producers of crude oil in the world. Oil accounts for more than 85% of federal revenue. This oil is produced almost exclusively in the Niger-Delta region. As an oil bearing region, the Niger-Delta has experienced enormous transformation, part of which is rapid expansion in economic activities over the years. Eteng (1998), has noted that oil exploitation over the last four decades have impacted most negatively on the socio- physical environment of the oil producing areas. Accompanying this however, is the rising incidence of poverty, lack of access to land by women, environmental degradation and agricultural child labour, all these factors have serious negative impact on children of the Niger-Delta region.

Despite significant efforts over the past years to ensure the rights of children, most children in the Niger Delta region are forced to work due to deepening poverty, inadequate policies in the region, pervading conflicts over resource control and rural urban migration. So many young people drift to the cities in search of greener pastures, thereby abandoning agricultural activities to children and very old people. ILO (2002), and Oloko (2002), estimate that there were 250 million child workers in the world. Recent estimates produced by the ILO, put the number of economically active children between 9-17 years at 352 million (ILO, 2002). Asia has the largest number of child workers in the 5-14 age range; Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest proportion of working children. It is estimated that one in every three children below 15 is economically active in Latin America, one child in five works, (Nyenke, 2007).

Nnorom (2004), quoting the survey of statistical information and Monitoring programme of Child Labour Survey (SIMPOC), found approximately more than 15 million (15,027,612) working children in Nigeria, out which more than 6 million (6,102,406 or 41%) are not attending school and another 2 million are exposed to as long as 15 hours or more hours of work daily.

In 2000, the ILO estimated 23-5% of children ages 10 - 14 years in Nigeria were working. Most of these children work in agricultural sector, usually on family farms, in fishing and as cattle herders. …

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