Ford Foundation partners seek development of Nigeria’s oil producing communities

The renowned Ford Foundation has partnered Spaces for Change, a non-profit human rights organisation to address issues around Host Community Development Trusts (HCDTs) implementation in Nigeria, as record has it that oil producing communities in the country, often battered by oil exploration activities, have been experiencing issues of poor development.

Penpushing reports that the Host Community Development Trusts (HCDTs) was created by the Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry Act 2021, and it is aimed at ensuring development of oil producing communities devastated by exploration of crude oil.

The meeting organized by Non-Profit Human Rights Organisation was held between 3 March and 9 March 2024, in Lagos to discuss Host Community Development Trusts (HCDTs) implementation in the country

Penpushing further reports that in attendance at the meeting were legislators, representatives from civil society organisations, traditional councils, oil producing communities, regulatory bodies, and oil and gas companies.

The statement by the group explained that, the meeting provided a platform for robust dialogue and collaborative problem-solving, while number of participants hailed the introduction of the Host Community Development Trusts (HCDTs)

Penpushing also reports that the attendees stated that it will serve as channels for directing benefits to communities where oil and gas extraction occurs, stressing that the Host Community Development Trusts (HCDTs) offer greater advantages to host communities compared to earlier models such as the Global Memoranda of Understanding.

The participants in similar vein, expressed concerns about various aspects of the implementation process of the Host Community Development Trusts (HCDTs) pointing out some of the concerns as include flawed selection processes for boards of trustees.

The other concerns are ambiguity surrounding the allocation of the 3 percent of operating expenses, power imbalances between corporations and host communities, lack of environmental accountability during divestment, and the absence of independent monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

Penpushing reports that a traditional ruler from Ogoni Traditional Council, Baridam Suani, on his part stressed that there was urgent need for environmental accountability in the implementation of the Host Community Development Trusts (HCDTs).

“Diversification without environmental accountability is a dangerous activity. Operators should think of the environment first, and take care of liabilities before leaving the host community permanently’, Suani said.

Penpushing further reports that other participants at the meeting emphasised the important role of various actors in ensuring the successful implementation of the Host Community Development Trusts (HCDTs)

The participants equally commended the Ford Foundation for providing resources, supporting capacity building, and connecting local conversations to global discussions on natural resource governance, and same vein praised civil society groups for providing capacity building, raising awareness, and advocating for community rights.

Penpushing also reports that they commended the traditional councils for representing community interests and ensuring transparency while urging the host communities to engage actively in the Host Community Development Trusts (HCDTs) process and hold oil companies accountable.

The statement, added that the meeting ended with a renewed commitment from all participants to work collaboratively towards the effective implementation of the Host Community Development Trusts (HCDTs) in Nigeria.

Penpushing reports that Regional Director of Ford Foundation West Africa, Dr Chichi Aniagolu-Okoye hinted that the foundation would continue to support local efforts with global conversations on resource governance and climate change.

The Regional Director assured grantees of the foundation’s commitment to natural resource and climate change initiatives through the provision of funding for the next five years for civil society actors in the focus areas.

Penpushing further reports that on his part Vice President of International Programs at the Ford Foundation, Martin Abregu commended grantees for their key interventions aimed at improving democracy and the extractive sector.

“It is encouraging to see different players sitting around the table to have conversations about interventions in areas of climate change, community rights, community engagement, and community participation to ensure that we build long-term consensus on the kind of development we need for the future’, Abregu stated.

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