A Training organized for 15 Ogoni youth, which kicked off on 14 January, was concluded successfully on 29 March. The training was in line with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recommendation to provide an alternative source of livelihood for oil-impacted communities of Ogoniland in Southern Nigeria.
The Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), in a tripartite collaboration with the Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) and IITA, developed the template for the training aimed to empower these Ogoni youth.
IITA-Onne organized a closing cum graduation ceremony to celebrate the youth who successfully participated in the training on the fabrication of cassava processing machines. The ceremony was attended by representatives from HYPREP and SDN, as well as members of the press.
In his opening remarks, Head of IITA-Onne Station, Richardson Okechukwu noted that the graduands were taught how to fabricate basic processing machines such as roasters, graters, presses, burr mill, sifter, peeling, and cabinet dryer as well as postharvest processing. He encouraged the graduands to take the lessons to heart by working towards the purpose of achieving sustainable livelihoods through this program.
In his speech, Dr Marvin Dekil, Project Coordinator of HYPREP-Ministry of Environment, represented by HYPREP’s Head of Legal services Mrs Ekanem Grace, stated that HYPREP will ensure that the skills gained by the 15 graduands are put to good use. This will be achieved with the setting-up of a cassava processing centre that would generate income and create an economic hub for the communities.
“It has been a long journey for the trainees, who have had previous training on machine fabrication. The trainees are the first batch of the program,” he said. He urged the trainees to leverage on the opportunities provided by this training to change their lives and become good ambassadors of their communities. He commended IITA and SDN for supporting the program and assured the FG’s commitment to full implementation of the Ogoni clean-up exercise.
In his own remarks, SDN Senior Project Officer, Jesse-Martin Manufor noted the importance of the training as cassava is a staple food for many Nigerians as well as an important cash crop that produces garri, starch, and flour.
The graduands were issued certificates of participation.