Location: M2225

1:45-3:15 p.m. Thursday, Nov 2, 2023

Discussant: Zelalem K. Bedaso, University of Dayton Geology and Environmental Geosciences 

This session is co-hosted by the University of Dayton Hanley Sustainability Institute (HSI)


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Thursday, November 2nd
1:45 PM

Judicial Activism as a Pathway to Environmental Justice in Africa’s Mining Industry: The Case of Nigeria and South-Africa

Onyekachi Eni Dr, Alex-Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo, Ebonyi State
Dr. Ngozi Chinwa Ole, Federal University, Oye Ekiti


1:45 PM - 3:15 PM

Africa’s mining industry embodies the tension between socio-economic development, and environmental protection. On account of their abundant mineral resource endowments, Nigeria and South-Africa constitute Africa’s mining hub with the attendant environmental burdens evident in the distortion of natural environmental equilibrium, disruption of ecosystem services and dislocation of the people from their cultural moorings contrary to extant global and regional instruments on development and human rights. Notwithstanding the negative externalities of mining, the incidence of poverty and the absence of basic amenities in many mining communities often combine to frustrate the effort of mining-affected persons to obtain redress for the violation of their environmental rights. The situation is worsened by the prevailing uncertainty in mining regulatory frameworks in Nigeria and South-Africa. For instance, while section 24 of South-Africa’s constitution guarantees the environmental rights of citizens, the gaps and uncertainties in the country’s Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) 2002 and its regulations undermine the regulatory capacity to hold mining companies accountable. Similarly, while section 20 of Nigeria’s constitution provides for environmental rights, its potency is deflected by section 6(6)(c) of the same constitution which makes environmental rights unenforceable in court. The situation is aggravated by the defects in the country’s Minerals and Mining Act (MMA) 2007 and its regulations which concertedly undermine citizens’ environmental rights. Using the analytical model as methodology and survey of relevant literature and case law as sources of data, this study examines the weaknesses of Nigeria’s and South-Africa’s mining regulations in relation to citizens’ environmental rights. The study found that legislative ambivalence and defective public participation frameworks hold sway in both jurisdictions for which judicial activism, poverty alleviation and improved public involvement in the issuance of mining permits and licenses are recommended for the attainment of environmental justice.

New People, New Livelihoods after Tugwi Mukosi Dam Construction: A Case of Chingwizi Area in Mwenezi District in Masvingo Province of Zimbabwe

Cephas Mandirahwe, Africa University


1:45 PM - 3:15 PM

Using Cernea’s Impoverishment, Risk, and Reconstruction Model, the study examined the livelihoods of the Chingwizi residents of Mwenezi District in the aftermath of relocations from Masvingo District. According to this model, development-induced relocations culminate into landlessness, joblessness, loneliness, property, and social disarticulation. In recent years Zimbabwe has embarked on dam construction and other development projects which have displaced local populations. One such development was the construction of Tugwi Mukosi Dam which was perceived by the government to generate economic growth for the whole nation and Masvingo Province in particular. This is also an endogenous strategy by the government of Zimbabwe in pursuit of the right to development enshrined in the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights article 22. This also resonates well with the government’s current thrust for Zimbabwe to attain an ‘Upper Middle Income’ economy by the year 2030. As a result of these relocations conflicts with affected communities has been inevitable. In cases where the government succeeded in relocating the affected communities new problems and new livelihoods have emerged in those new localities hence this study. Findings from the study indicate that relocated communities ended up in worse-off situations in the new localities with women and children suffering the most. The study also found that in the case of Chingwizi off- farm livelihoods apart from agriculture have emerged. The study recommends the government to come up with a relocation policy that incorporates the interests of all stakeholders.

The Right to Development in Transboundary Water Context: The Case of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)

Halifet Ayemohammed Yusuf, Wollo University


1:45 PM - 3:15 PM

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is Africa's largest hydroelectric developmental project, which has been under construction for the past decade in Ethiopia. With the potential to generate over 6000 megawatts of power, this dam has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life in Ethiopia and other countries in the region. It also presents a significant opportunity for regional cooperation and development in the Nile basin. However, this project has been fraught with tension between Ethiopia and its neighbors as it affects their access to water resources. Another important reason is the distribution of the Nile water share under the colonial legal regime governing the Nile watercourse, which has ignited tension more.

Although there are a lot of contributions on the Nile River and GERD in the literature, there is little from the human rights perspective. Hence focusing on the right to development (RtD), this paper considers the human rights ramifications of the legal agreements regarding restricting upper-stream countries from utilizing the Nile water as a critical component for the Nile basin development. The paper uses qualitative analysis to highlight the importance of presenting the human rights discourse when evaluating such projects. It also aims to contribute to the African jurisprudence of the RtD to empower people's rights and the quest for growth using their natural resources. The finding demonstrates that the Nile River's utilization is directly related to and critical to the RtD. Further, it indicates that the colonial legal regime remains a key obstacle for the Nile basin countries to access the Nile water for protecting, promoting, and realizing the RtD.

Advancing Gender Justice in the Green Transition: Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change and Environmental Exploitation on Women and Children's Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa

Victor Onyilor Achem, University of Ibadan


1:45 PM - 3:15 PM

The lack of access to clean cooking solutions and reliance on unsustainable biomass has resulted in environmental degradation, which disproportionately affects women and children. However, 75% of Nigeria’s population relies on solid fuel for their household cooking. Women are often tasked with collecting firewood and water, resulting in a significant burden on their time and exposing them to violence and injury.

This study adopts a mixed-method approach, utilizing both quantitative and qualitative methods to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the impact of climate change and unsustainable energy use on women's rights in Nigeria. The research reveals that the gendered impact of climate change is influenced by colonial and neocolonial dynamics that lead to unequal access to resources and power, and the prioritization of corporate interests over human rights.

Furthermore, it identifies social, cultural, and political factors that contribute to the gendered impact of climate change and unsustainable energy use. The findings indicate that sustainable energy solutions can mitigate the impact of climate change on women's rights in Nigeria. However, these solutions must be culturally and socially appropriate to be effective. Therefore, community-based initiatives that empower women to participate in decision-making processes and advocate for their rights can be an effective strategy for promoting sustainable energy use and climate justice in Nigeria.

Thus, this paper highlights the need for more gender-sensitive and culturally appropriate approaches to sustainable development and climate justice initiatives in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. It underscores the importance of recognizing the disproportionate impact of climate change on women and children's rights and the need for collaborative efforts to address these challenges.

Examining Postcolonial Structures of Corporate Power through the Lens of Development Induced Projects in Africa

Janet Gbam, University of Pretoria
Oyeniyi Abe, University of Huddersfield


1:45 PM - 3:15 PM

This paper examines the relationships between socio-economic inequalities of power, race, wealth engendered by corporate structure, and domination in post-colonial Africa. In Africa, the drive towards infrastructural development and economic growth has increasingly led to the displacement of local populations by TNCs. This intractable challenge confines the experiences of Indigenous people, their decolonial imaginations, to an unwarranted historicizing parochialism. However, corporate power and structure - the weapons that enforce it, the knowledge institutions that legitimize it, the financial institutions that operationalize it - continues to sever indigenous peoples from their properties, including land, water, rivers and natural resources. The colonial practice of displacing locals from their ancestral land, which recasts black indigenous people as black bodies for biopolitical disposal, continues post-colonial in a nuanced being recreated in form of development induced displacement. This paper proceeds on the basis that conversion of land into property for corporate domination in the pretext of development induced displacement, and of people into targets of subjection, continue to mutate. Projects such as dams, urban highways, extraction of resources and urban renewal were initiated in several countries as monuments of economic hope. In some cases, these projects were greatly eulogised. Over the years, issues of inadequate compensation, improper resettlement, cosmetic consultations and coercion, have significantly precipitated counter-hegemonic resistance to development projects. At the core of this resistance is the fact that displaced minorities are necessary sacrifices for development - a feature of colonial heritage.