- Title: NIGERIA: Women struggle to find jobs in Niger Delta despite oil riches.
- Date: 1st August 2012
- Summary: VARIOUS CHILDREN LOOKING ON
- Embargoed: 16th August 2012 13:00
- Location: Nigeria
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Economy,Social Services / Welfare
- Reuters ID: LVA2VUTADGS1849CVRWXTPB4RJIF
- Story Text: Despite vast oil riches found in the Niger Delta, unemployment remains high in the region and some women who have been forced to take up menial jobs in order to earn a living, are protesting.
Holding banners and placards, a group of women in Nigeria's Bayelsa state recently blocked a major road as they chanted slogans, in an attempt to highlight the high level of unemployment in the oil rich Niger Delta, which they say mostly affects women.
Despite Nigeria being Africa's top oil producer, exporting about 2 million barrels of oil per day the Delta region remains one of the poorest in the country.
In recent years, the Delta region has been synonymous with oil spills from pipelines wrought by age and rampant vandalisation blamed on oil thieves.
Today, the region bares no signs of benefitting from decades of oil exploration in the area. Most residents remain poor and unemployed despite the huge oil and gas resources found here.
"We are suffering. We have Shell here, taking our gas. And we had gas, the largest in West-Africa. So please we want Shell to come to our aid," said Imomotimi Wariowei, a resident in Bayelsa State.
Women in the community say they have very few opportunities to earn an income here and are forced to depend on subsistence farming.
Ebiagbari Francis, a twenty-three-year-old mother of two says it's hard to provide for her children. After graduating in Wildlife and Tourism studies, Ebiagbari spent months searching for a job and when she couldn't find employment, she decided to start digging out stones used for construction and selling them instead.
Today she makes about $20 a day from her business.
"In my house no food, no work, my husband's got no work. Myself I got no work. My children, my first-born is three years now. This first time [as he goes to school] I won't have fees for school, no fees to put him to school. I said, okay, let me fix myself. So that, before they resume [school], I have school fees," said Ebiagbari.
According to the government, 40 percent of people in the Delta are unemployed.
Ebiagbari says digging for stones is back-breaking work but for now it helps pay the bills.
"God should send someone to help me so that I can leave this work. Because this is not my field and I am not happy about it. But I cannot just sit down like that," said Ebiagbari.
Many women in the Delta also lack proper education. Literacy among young females country-wide already stands at 65 percent, according to United Nation's Children's agency, UNICEF.
Muna Onkoyo, an employee of an oil company, says that unless the government focuses on providing free and comprehensive education for communities in the Delta, there won't be any significant changes in improving the lives of women there.
Muna runs a charity that helps disabled and unemployed women in the Delta set up their own businesses.
"When they pass through education they will be able to get employed. I am a testimony. I am educated. If I had not been educated, I would have been there in the village, probably a farmer or maybe just wallowing away in the village there," she said.
In recent years, the government has introduced a number of policies to help improve things for the 10 million people living in the Niger Delta, but politicians are yet to deliver on promised jobs, roads, schools and hospitals, as well as creating job opportunities.
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