Eucharia Nwaichi has worked in the Niger Delta since 2003Image source, Eucharia Nwaichi
Image caption, Eucharia Nwaichi has worked in the Niger Delta since 2003

It's the only one of its kind. There is a fix for an environmental disaster.

The oil spill in southern Nigeria has turned the area into one of the most polluted in the world.

There's a deep distrust of outsiders, militant groups blow up pipelines, and oil companies are accused of negligent behavior.

One scientist, Eucharia Nwaichi, comes armed with knowledge and a calm but unshakeable determination to detoxify in a land ravaged by oil and fires.

We want solutions that are sustainable. She says in an interview that they aim to do no harm.

She was just awarded a prize for scientists who stand their ground in the face of adversity. She was happy to be the first African woman to win an award.

The University of Port Harcourt has an employee named Eucharia. The way she rehabilitates soils and water is fairly easy.

bioremediation is planting vegetation that will naturally remove pollutants from the soil without the need to remove chemicals.

She is called to the site of oil spills where there are chemicals and heavy metals leaking into the ground.

Eucharia has developed techniques that remove pollutants from the soil using plantsImage source, Eucharia Nwaichi
Image caption, Eucharia has developed techniques that remove pollutants from the soil using plants

The "garden of Nigeria" that has deep oil and gas reserves has been worked on by her since 2003

She was a PhD student when she discovered the problem. Eucharia was able to convince the oil company to change how they extract oil by proving the cause of the problem with documented evidence.

The use of science during violent disputes is what won her the award.

According to the director of Sense in Science,ucharia engaged hostile forces in asking scientific questions to make sure solutions would work.

She won over local people and persuaded oil companies to pay for her services.

People who have been affected by pollution have turned to the courts for justice. A Dutch court ruled in favor of farmers.

The environment is suffering at the moment. Cleaning up isn't a priority during litigation. She says local people need to be involved in the solution.

You run the risk of being kidnapped if you don't engage with people well. She says that she first met the community chief, the women's leader, and the youth leaders.

Eucharia NwaichiImage source, Eucharia Nwaichi
Image caption, Eucharia Nwaichi says local people must feel involved in solutions

She says using traditional knowledge and speaking Pidgin help build trust.

She says that people feel like scientists when they work with researchers to fix the problem.

They also teach us. She says that they teach them how to make the solution work in their area.

She thinks that the contaminated land should be restored so that crops can grow again and that fishing can be made possible.

She was offered jobs at prestigious US universities, but decided to stay in the Delta because she wanted to make her country great.

International oil companies are viewed by many environmentalists as enemies. Communities left with poor health, without safe drinking water and their livelihoods destroyed, have been the subject of a fight by Friends of Earth.

She doesn't want to take sides. We're not here to fight. She wants people to be responsible. It's more important to be responsible than it is to fight. It is more lasting.

She has had to deal with her own threats. She was threatened by an oil company in 2020 while documenting a new oil spill. She said the operator told her she shouldn't be allowed to work there.

She continues because she sees facts as a force for good, despite the risk.

She says that science can prove that this wasn't done based on bias.

  • Pollution
  • Nigeria
  • Oil
  • Environment