The paper has examined the level of communities’ knowledge about associated environmental health and livelihood risks of oil exploration and development along the western coast of Ghana. Data was collected from selected stakeholders in three coastal towns: Axim, Half Assini and Asanta in the Western Region of Ghana. Data was analysed thematically using SPSS (Version 16) and MS Excel. The study has found very low levels of awareness with regards to the impacts of oil production on environmental health and livelihoods in the communities. There is a high level of susceptibility of the coastal communities to violations of their health, as well as their environmental and livelihood rights. Respondents’ level of education significantly influences their level of knowledge about potential health and livelihood impacts of the oil production in the area. It was also found that oil and gas companies have not created enough awareness of the impact of their operation in the communities. The study concludes that the rights of the communities to good health, clean environment, sustainable livelihood and social development are susceptible to violation by oil and gas firms. The study recommends an immediate intervention to build the capacity of communities to defend their rights, particularly their health, environment and livelihood rights.
Key Words: Oil and gas, environmental health, livelihood, vulnerability