The 2006 Niger-Delta Human Development Report compiled by the United Nations Development Programme, revealed that the Niger-Delta region which accounts for more than 95 percent of Nigeria’s foreign earnings, is paradoxically enveloped in acute poverty due to corruption and greed on the part of our leaders. For over a decade, Dr. Evelyn Urhobo through her Morgan Smart Development Foundation (MSDF) has been championing the cause of the indigent women and youths in the oil-rich region through various empowerment programs.
Recently, MSDF actualized its commitment to the empowerment of poor women in that region by partnering with the French Embassy in Nigeria through the Social Development Funds (SDF) in the construction of 20 Chorkor Fish Smoking Ovens for 300 rural women in coastal fish communities in Edo and Ondo States.
Chorkor Fish Smoking Oven is designed from local material and is inexpensive to maintain. It can accommodate 300 pieces of fish for smoking at once. In addition to eliminating smoke and other hazards women who use firewood face, the end products are better and well preserved.
According to Urhobo, “the Project is to improve income generation and provide economic empowerment for the rural women through the use of alternative, effective and efficient fish processing tools. The women in these communities presently use traditional smoking kilns that are low in production capacities as well as expose them to dangerous health risks from smoke inhalation and burns.”
Speaking further on her passion for the indigent women, Urhobo said, “this is to help the poor women in the Niger Delta improve on their productivity and create higher income and alleviate poverty by the introduction of local technology to help the process. The introduction of the Chorkor fish smoking oven increases smoking of 30 pieces of fish at a time to 300 pieces of fish. MSDF recognizes the potential of improved income generation for women in the costal and fishing communities; so we are seeking funds to deplore about 1000 of these chorkor Smoking Ovens across the Niger Delta Region. We are aware of the conspiracy of silence against the poor women of the Niger Delta and believe that helping them improve their productivity from the subsistence level to a more efficient one definitely will help these women out of poverty. Introducing this local technology has its value chain in the production process. There are other local technologies that we are also promoting to be introduced in palm oil and garri processing.”
Urhobo who few months back through her organization documented the livelihood pattern of women in Niger-Delta region said the situation is still very pathetic and hearth-breaking. “My consciousness is from that region because I am from that region. We can’t get anywhere if women issues are not properly addressed. Nigeria will be a prosperous country if we really empower women especially those at the grassroot. Government should set up the structure to address issues relating to women empowerment. We need a structure and as they are making provision for militants, they should make provision for women. Government has a responsibility of letting women have a feel of the oil that is coming from the land.”
MSDF, Urhobo disclosed is currently planning to deploy this local technology to boast production and income generation, across the Niger Delta within the next three years with adequate funding.
MSDF is a non- profit organization dedicated to the socio- economic empowerment of vulnerable women and youths in Nigeria especially the Niger Delta Region.
Source: Daily IndependentÂ