Sustainability International, a US-based nonprofit organization, is employing the use of Blockchain technology to clean up the Niger Delta in Nigeria. This delta of one of the World’s largest rivers-the Niger river has been heavily polluted by decades of oil spills by oil mining company giants such as Shell and others. The situation has been made worse by the fact that past governments in Nigeria have been inept and unable to compel oil companies to adhere to minimum standards of minimizing pollution to the environment.
Further, the Niger Delta region has been plagued by a series of insecurity incidents where local militias from the Niger Delta communities have been trying to disrupt oil extraction activities to expresses their grievances to the Nigerian government that barely facilitates development projects in the area, leaving an otherwise resource-rich region poor and suffering from many forms of poverty.
The Project Has Been Ongoing
Sustainability international is liaising with Sela Labs- a platform that facilitates transparent execution of development projects and also their measurement in order to promote their sustainability. This project has been ongoing for over a year and the efforts are already yielding success as communities on the Niger Delta are starting to benefit.
The founder and CEO of the platform, Chinyere Nnadi-a Nigerian American, spoke to Forbes in 2017 when the clean-up effort was being unveiled. Back then, Nnandi was trying to understand the task at hand and was also sensitizing the Ogoni locals and any policymaker of goodwill about the needs at hand.
Use-Case Blockchain Application
Sustainability International has a mission of use of Blockchain technology, and the Niger Delta is one of the many areas in the region with huge potential that has been stifled by corruption and carefree lack of regulation. The Niger Delta clean up entails launching of the Sela Platform that was done in April 2018 in an Ogoniland village called K-Dere off the coast of the Gulf of Guinea. In this case, the organization restored a fishing area by cleaning up an oil spill by employing the services of militiamen and local women.
According to official information, the role of Blockchain technology in this use case is to “engineer accountability”. The organization is pointing out corruption as the main factor behind environmental degradation. For instance, Shell can set aside money for an oil spill cleanup, the contractor would then submit falsified proof of a cleanup without having done any job on the ground.
With a smart contract-based Blockchain in place, the locals would be able to note the social responsibilities of the oils giants and be able to verify that the contractors have completed their tasks before the payments are done. This would then solve the thorny issue of lack of progress in Niger Delta reclamation efforts despite budgetary allocations.
Dealing With Structural Challenges
Sustainability International is grappling with many problems on the ground. One of them is the fact that there is a poor electrical connection on the area that means most workers on the cleanup exercises cannot submit data on the Blockchain about the cleanups. Additionally, there is a problem of illiteracy on the ground that makes it tricky to bring everyone on board. Another issue is selecting leaders among groups to ensure that data has been updated on the DLT.
Meanwhile, the course if far noble than the challenges and Niger Delta residents are already seeing positive results.