Following the recent outcry about the impact of soot in Nigeria’s oil capital, Port Harcourt, local NGO, the Extra Step Initiative alongside key partners X3M Ideas has unveiled a new website tagged SootCity to help residents calculate their life expectancy.
The website uses a data model embedded with decades of soot research across multiple countries and bodies like the United Nations, World Health Organisation and Umweltbundesamt – the German Environment Agency as well as time spent in soot-affected areas to predict Years of Life Left (YLL) based on each user input.
Having consistently delivered impactful social intervention projects spanning over a decade, X3M Ideas aims to nudge the right bodies and Nigerians across the country to save the lives of residents of Port Harcourt.
“With the launch of the website, we add another important tool that we hope will not only jolt the Government to take action but will also communicate to the wider public the urgency of the situation, not just for those in Port Harcourt but for everyone across the country,” said Steve Babaeko, the Founder and CEO of X3M Ideas.
Eugene Abels the Founder of The Extra Step Initiative, a Non-Governmental Organisation based in Port Harcourt says,
“After 60 years of Rivers State being the hub of the hydrocarbon industry and with the damaging activities of the non-state actors, the Rivers State Government with external support must lead the charge to audit the damage to our flora and fauna particularly the respiratory health of the residents of Port Harcourt and other host communities from the activities of legal and illegal refining of crude oil so as to curb the rate of cancers and renal failure amongst children, indigent people and pregnant women. It is also our belief that even the United Nations Ogoni Clean Up report is obsolete and should be updated by the Federal Government to reflect the current realities which a 10-year-old report does not capture.”
In addition to the State Government’s intervention in 2022 with raids on illegal refineries as well as the Senate’s 2022 motion titled ‘Curbing Soot’s Particulates droppings, health Hazards concern and economic sabotage by illegal refining of crude products in Rivers State’, sponsored by Senator George Thompson Sekibo, amongst others, SootCity aims to proffer more specific and integrated solutions to what is considered an environmental, health and economic pandemic in the region.
Some of the solutions being proffered include the collaboration of government at all levels with all stakeholders on clear and strategic activities like the identification and containment of pollution sites; ensuring that IOCs conduct their businesses in line with international best practices; and restructuring and empowerment of environmental and security agencies with the finance and equipment to implement and enforce environmental laws amongst others.
First discovered in 2016, soot in Port Harcourt stems from illegal bunkering and oil refining activities resulting in the release of harmful toxins into the atmosphere, causing different forms of respiratory, skin, reproductive, and other life-threatening conditions.
“The timely nature of this intervention cannot be overemphasised, considering the recent wave of soot-related illnesses. The State Government itself through the office of the former Commissioner for Environment, Prof. Roseline Konya, in 2019, reviewed over 22,077 cases of respiratory diseases related to the presence of soot in the city.
Every year we record thousands of cases of soot-related illnesses. It is time for us to demand action from the Government to save what’s left of the lives of residents of Port Harcourt,” Dr Oge Isokariari, Public Relations Officer of the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria and Public Health Physician at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, said.