Children's voices on the impacts of oil exploration activities: a case study on the Niger Delta region of Nigeria
2013-06-26T13:42:42Z (GMT) by
Children are a unique and highly diverse group of people within society. However, engaging with children s voices has only recently become prominent in academic and international discourses. This thesis contributes to this engagement with children s voices by focusing on their experiences as shaped by oil extraction activities in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. While there is a vast body of literature on the implications of oil exploration activities in the region, little attention has been paid to children's lives. To counterbalance this tendency, this study aims to explore children's perceptions, experiences, and coping strategies in relation to the challenging circumstances of oil exploration operations in their communities. Adopting a critical perspective that views children as social actors with basic rights, this study also examines children's access to basic needs within the context of these oil industry operations. This research has used a quantitative and multi-qualitative methodological approach to data collection. Although children s voices are the study's focal point, the perceptions of adult stakeholders such as parents/carers, community leaders and oil company representatives were also used to explore children s lives and synthesize the discussions in the study. The results reveal that, while the Nigerian government has adopted the vocabulary enshrined in the UNCRC to enhance children s access to basic rights, in reality, the actions of the federal government and oil companies appear to be inconsistent with the fundamental principles of children's rights. Specifically, findings reveal that the adverse impacts of oil extraction activities have severely hampered children s lives and that, as a result, children have adopted harmful coping strategies. Additionally, by presenting the voices of children and adults separately, results show that children's views differed significantly from adult's perceptions on matters concerning children. The findings of this study relate the research to some of the key debates in children's geographies about children and childhood, especially within the context of the global South. This thesis argues that children are an integral part of society and that any meaningful strategy for development in the Niger Delta region must take into account their roles as social actors. Moreover, it must fully acknowledge the specific impacts that oil exploration activities have had on the lives of children in the communities affected and examine how these might be addressed.