U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Specialist and 2009 Science Fellow Michael Solecki is in Nigeria for 12 weeks providing technical assistance and training for several Nigerian organizations. Under the program, twenty one mid-level environmental officers from the National Oil Spill Detention and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and the Pipeline Product Marketing Company (PPMC) have received three-weeks of training on oil spill detection and clean-up and restoration of affected areas.
Mike is conducting similar training for 43 NOSDRA environmental officers from Nigeria’s oil producing Delta region in Lagos from February 2 – 13. He is also helping the organization develop its own training manual for future in-house training. The trainees in Abuja, in addition to classroom instructions, received practical training through a filed trip to an actual oil spill along the Abuja-Lokoja expressway.
This training is a direct result of the Government of Nigeria’s request for U.S. technical assistance in training NOSDRA’s workforce. Nigeria is regularly inundated with oil spills from its aging oil infrastructure and frequent illegal pipeline tampering (bunkering), and this training is expected to enhance the capacity of NOSDRA to respond more effectively to such ongoing environmental challenges.
According to Dr. Bamidele Ajakaiye, Director General and Chief Executive Officer of NOSDRA, the U.S.-sponsored capacity training program will help enable his agency fulfill its mandate of preventing oil spills and clean-up and restoration efforts of affected areas. Two participants at the Abuja workshop described their experience as “good and timely” saying that “the knowledge obtained through the training should in fact become a standard for everyone involved in oil spills management and environmental protection.”
In March, Mike provided two weeks of training in disaster response management to personnel from the Nigerian National Emergency Management Agency. He also conducted, in addition to providing curriculum review, a two-day workshop for students and faculty from the School of Risk and Disaster Management at the Federal Technical University of Nigeria in Minna, Niger State.
The U.S. collaboration with NOSDRA and similar organizations advances the U.S. Mission’s objective of partnering with the Government of Nigeria and others in protecting the Nigerian environment and encouraging sustainable economic development.