Conflict in the Niger Delta
Industrial Gas Flaring
Geospatial technologies provide scientists and human rights organizations with new opportunities for identifying, measuring and analyzing human rights-related events around the world. The variety of sensors available on orbital satellites provides data collection in both visible and non-visible wavelengths, which can be utilized for many different types of inquiry. The analysis in this report uses both high-resolution visible satellite imagery and low-resolution infrared sources to identify and measure the extent of specific human rights violations reported to be occurring in Nigeria. Particularly, the report focuses on housing demolitions, communal conflict, armed conflict, and gas flaring in two regions of Nigeria.
In Port Harcourt, a major city in the Niger Delta, high-resolution satellite imagery documented the complete destruction of the Njamenze slum. The destruction consisted of the demolition or removal of approximately 375 structures. Information provided by Amnesty International suggests that the destruction of the Njamenze slum led to the displacement of an estimated 13,800 residents. Furthermore, information obtained by Amnesty International suggests that Njamenze is only the first of several planned demolitions in the city. Amnesty International together with AAAS will continue to monitor this situation.
Armed conflict in the Niger Delta between the Nigerian government’s Joint Task Force (JTF) and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is reported to have caused destruction or damage to a number of communities. The four documented in this report- Kurutie, Benikrukru, Oporoza and Okerenkoko- exhibit varying degrees of destruction. In the most affected location, Okerenkoko, satellite imagery analysis revealed 230 structures that appear to have been removed or destroyed. The other three locations experienced much less destruction, with damage counts at 8 in Kurutie, 27 in Benikrukru, and 4 in Oporoza. Additional imagery has been ordered for other reported violence in the region, but has not yet been successfully acquired.
Communal conflict is an ongoing issue in the city of Jos, the capital of Plateau State. High resolution satellite imagery was acquired to assess the damage to the city as the result of conflict reported to have occurred in January 2010. In total, 16 areas of the city exhibited signs of destruction, with a total area of 0.911 square kilometers.
Analysis of gas flaring resulting from the burning of natural gas byproduct of the petroleum industry using moderate-resolution MODIS data’s infrared hotspot detection capabilities is a new application of technology for human rights documentation. Focusing on the Niger Delta region, data were acquired from the years 2000 to 2010 and the number of gas flares per year was determined. Particular focus was given to those flares occurring within 2km of human habitation, as established research on the subject identifies this distance as the threshold for measurable impact on people and agricultural production. Using MODIS data coupled with published on-the-ground research, AAAS was able to construct zones of increased temperatures around each flare location, representing temperatures elevated by 11.6°C at 500 meters, 9.2°C at one kilometer, and 4.3°C at two kilometers from the flare. The 2008 moratorium on gas flaring declared by the Nigerian government intended to reduce the practice across the region has been largely unsuccessful. Analysis demonstrated that the number of existing flares has decreased only slightly in the years since the moratorium, leaving the population in the region subject to the detrimental environment created by the burning of natural gas.
Eyes on Nigeria incorporates on-the-ground reporting sources such as interviews, photography, and video with advanced geospatial analysis techniques to create an interactive presentation of human rights violations observed across the country. The analysis and findings contained in this report constitute the primary technical content of the Eyes on Nigeria website.
A PDF of Eyes on Nigeria: Technical Report is available here.