Eyes on Nigeria: Conflict in the Niger Delta
The Niger Delta region of Nigeria covers approximately 70,000 square kilometers. It is largely comprised of wetlands and is the source of petroleum for the country’s oil industry. AI-USA requested analysis of four communities in the Niger Delta believed to be damaged or destroyed during ongoing conflict in the region. Reported attacks by the Nigerian government’s Joint Task Force (JTF) on these and other communities have been documented. Residents of the area have been caught up in fighting between the JTF and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a militant group based in the Delta. Based on reporting from the region, images of the settlements of Kurutie, Benikrukru, Oporoza and Okerenkoko were obtained and analyzed for the purpose of identifying and determining the impact of the conflict on human settlements.
Figure 2.1: Study Area
AAAS found evidence of removed structures and removed or destroyed roofs in its analysis of all four of the Niger Delta communities. In Kurutie and Benikrukru, several structures were removed between the two image dates. In the communities of Okerenkoko and Oporoza, there were signs of reconstruction following the initial destruction. In Okerenkoko, 230 structures appear to have been removed or destroyed. New foundations for structures are visible in the latest image of the area. In Oporoza, although damage to rooftops is visible in the early images, the most recent image reveals that some roofs have been replaced. The analyses for each community can be found in the following figures:
- A. Benikrukru (Figure 2.2)
- B. Kurutie (Figure 2.3)
- C. Okerenkoko (Figure 2.4)
- D. Oporoza (Figure 2.5)
The settlement of Benikrukru was reported to have been attacked in September 2009. Figures 2.2.1 and 2.2.2 show satellite imagery taken on April 24, 2008 and December 5, 2009, respectively, indicating that 27 structures were removed. In some cases, the removed structures appear to have been replaced by larger structures. Figures 2.2.3 and 2.2.4 depict a subset of Benikrukru in greater detail.
Figure 2.2.1: Benikrukru
April 24, 2008: The structures in this image of Benikrukru are fully intact. Image © 2010 DigitalGlobe, Inc. Lat: 5.642, Long: 5.290.
Figure 2.2.2: Benikrukru Damage Assessment
December 5, 2009: Over one year later, 27 structures (indicated by red dots) have been removed or destroyed. Image © 2010 GeoEye, Inc. Lat: 5.642, Long: 5.290.
Figure 2.2.3: Benikrukru Subset
April 24, 2008: This subset image of Benikrukru depicts several intact structures. Image © 2010 DigitalGlobe, Inc. Lat: 5.643, Long: 5.291.
Figure 2.2.4: Benikrukru Subset
December 5, 2009: In this later image, several structures have been removed, and a few additional buildings have been built. Image © 2010 GeoEye, Inc. Lat: 5.643, Long: 5.291.
The Niger Delta settlement of Kurutie was reportedly attacked in September 2009. Images from September 13, 2008 (Figure 2.3.1) and December 5, 2009 (Figure 2.3.2) were obtained to determine the veracity of the reports. The analysis concluded that eight buildings in the 2008 image may have been subject to attack, as several of the structures appear to have been replaced by the time of the 2009 image.
Figure 2.3.1: Kurutie
September 13, 2008: The structures indicated by red circles are fully intact in this image. Yellow circles indicate locations where structures were either removed or destroyed and replaced by larger structures in the December 5, 2009 image. Image © 2010 DigitalGlobe, Inc. Lat: 5.329, Long: 5.584.
Figure 2.3.2: Kurutie Damage Assessment
December 5, 2009: Over one year later, six structures have been damaged or removed (red circles). The yellow circles represent two structures that were either removed or destroyed and replaced by larger structures. Image © 2010 GeoEye, Inc. Lat: 5.329, Long: 5.584.
Analysis of imagery covering Okerenkoko reveals that the town was subject to a disruptive event. Between the April 29, 2009 (Figure 2.4.1) and December 5, 2009 (Figure 2.4.2) images, 230 structures were destroyed or otherwise removed. This number represents the vast majority of the structures in the town. Another image taken on February 28, 2010 (Figure 2.4.3) shows the framework of 66 new structures being laid where old structures were removed or destroyed.
Figure 2.4.1: Okerenkoko
April 29, 2009: An image of Okerenkoko before reported violence shows intact structures. Image © 2010 GeoEye, Inc. Lat: 5.391, Long: 5.623.
Figure 2.4.2: Okerenkoko Damage Assessment
December 5, 2009: Over seven months later, almost all of the structures no longer exist. A few remaining buildings have had their roofs removed. In all, 230 structures were affected. Image © 2010 GeoEye, Inc. Lat: 5.391, Long: 5.623.
Figure 2.4.3: Evidence of Reconstruction in Okerenkoko
February 28, 2010: In this most recent image, the reconstruction of 66 structures appears to be underway. Red arrows indicate the foundations of these new buildings. Image © 2010 GeoEye, Inc. Lat: 5.391, Long: 5.623.
A comparison of imagery of Oporoza from November 29, 2007 (Figure 2.5.1) and December 5, 2009 (Figure 2.5.2) indicates that the roofs of four structures have been damaged or removed. A third image, acquired February 28, 2010 (Figure 2.5.3), shows that two of the roofs have been rebuilt. In addition, a new circular structure is apparent to the southeast of the red rectangular building in the center of the image. Below are image subsets of the damage and reconstruction found in Oporoza.
Figure 2.5.1: Oporoza
November 29, 2007: This image of Oporoza depicts a number of intact structures. Image © 2010 DigitalGlobe, Inc. Lat: 5.275, Long: 5.594.
Figure 2.5.2: Oporoza
December 5, 2009: The roofs of four structures indicated by red ovals have been either partially or entirely removed. Image © 2010 GeoEye, Inc. Lat: 5.275, Long: 5.594.
Figure 2.5.3: Oporoza
February 28, 2010: More than two months later, two of the four structures identified in the 2009 image can be seen with reconstructed roofs. Image © 2010 GeoEye, Inc. Lat: 5.275, Long: 5.594.
Evidence of change was found in each of the four communities surveyed. Twenty-seven structures were found damaged or removed in Benikrukru, while another eight buildings were found in Kurutie. The village of Okerenkoko was most severely affected, with 230 structures being destroyed or removed between April and December 2009. Signs of reconstruction were also visible in Okerenkoko. Finally, four damaged roofs were found in Oporoza, but two of these structures were repaired soon after. The results of the satellite imagery analysis support claims that communities in the Niger Delta have been affected by ongoing conflict in the region.
A PDF of Eyes on Nigeria: Technical Report is available here.