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Survey of the Disappearing Ilaje Region

These surveys carried out among Coastal communities of Ilaje, Ondo State, Nigeria residing along a 75km stretch of the Atlantic Ocean yielded practically the same results as the physical conditions of the environment in regards to fossil related activities were similar. This is a summarized compilation of the stories we heard.

Tell us a childhood memory or specific story about a special time you spent in the area around your home.

Most of the communities joyfully reported of how distant their communities were from the shoreline which afforded them space and time to bask in the beauty of the environment and relax on the beaches. They also had enough space to go fish hunting and appropriate areas to sort out and market their daily hauls. The conditions are different now as most of the communities are threatened by the Atlantic ocean and the loss/replacement of sand beach by mud. Some of the communities used to practice communism especially the Ayetoro community.

Explain how you interact with your environment now.

The residents of the communities ask had negative reports as their daily goal was surviving and finding a place to lay to their heads especially those already rendered homeless by the ocean attacks. The residents barely have time to relax as they battle with the ocean, uprooting buildings to save some materials and properties before ocean does the damage, get injured from wooden walkways, experience boundary disputes and intertribal crisis while also constantly relocating upland to get away from the ravaging ocean.

How have you noticed the impacts of climate change in the area where you live?

Climate change has been evident in Sea Level Rise, rapid ocean advancement overflowing of river channels, coastal flooding leading to loss of lives and properties, loss of plants and animal species, loss of mangroves, water, air and land pollution, shortened lifespans, extinction of communities.

How do these impacts affect your family, friends or loved ones?

Some family, friends and loved ones have been lost to sea incursion. The elderly die daily with no hope of a better environment. Loss of properties. Downward turn off economic activities. Continuous relocation of homes which sometimes cause families to be separated. Poverty cases resulting from loss of properties and livelihood to ocean attacks and oil spillage pollution.

Have you seen your environment changing?

Residents reported that their physical environments are complete shadows of how it used to be. The ocean now resides by people's window who live in fear and sometimes simply anticipate loss of their properties as they are incapacitated in acting against the ravaging ocean. Beaches were gone and now mud. There has been increased presence of oil companies. More firms of pollution is experienced. Fish farming was getting threatened as spillage from oil pipes laid under the communities led to loss of aquatic lives. Increased water levels. Loss of mangroves and farming space.

Imagine that the use of fossil fuels, which cause the most emissions affecting our world’s climate, were put to an end. How would that affect you? How would it affect your community? How would you feel?

Some respondents reported that halting oil exploration would be of no positive benefit to their communities as they enjoyed no benefits even while the exploration was ongoing. They maintained that they were living and surviving on their own efforts alone. Some others believe halting fossil related activities would help to reduce the rate of sea encroachment their communities were currently facing. Some others posited that there'd be peace in their communities as times of old and their environment with its resources would be preserved.

What would you like to say to the companies causing the most fossil fuel emissions right now?

Responding in line of conditions peculiar to their environment, the respondents want the companies carrying out fossil related activities to majorly help save the communities from being submerged by the ocean and providing them with other benefits. Most respondents demanded firstly for Sea Embankment structures, Sand-filling and Piling Projects that would help to slow down and possibly stop the pace of advancement of the Atlantic ocean. They further requested for the following from the companies: potable water projects (many residents drink polluted river water where they also defecate), road networks, concrete walkways and jetties, power supply (some communities have never had a source of power supply since their creation decades ago), job opportunities, schools, housing, health services and home for adults amongst others.

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