Food Insecurity, Malnutrition and Crude Oil Spillage in a Rural Community in Bayelsa State, South-South Nigeria
Background: Oil is the main stay of Nigeria\'s economy, but most residents in the oil producing communities still depend entirely on the environment for their sustenance; and so likely to have a problem of food security in the event of a deleterious impact on the environment. This study is to examine the effect of a major crude oil spillage on household food security, and the nutritional status of under-five children in the affected communities. This oil spillage occurred in May 2000, in Etiama Nembe, a rural community in Bayelsa State, south-south Nigeria. Method: The study was carried out six months after the spill, using cross-sectional, external control group study design, with a semi-structured questionnaire and anthropometry as the study tools. The study participants were chosen using a two-stage cluster sampling technique. The questionnaire assessing food insecurity was administered on an adult woman in each of the chosen households, while the anthropometric measurements were taken for every under-five year child in the household. Results: A total of 592 questionnaires were administered and retrieved in both study communities, while anthropometric measurements of 956 under-five year children were taken. There were no significant differences in the age and occupations of the respondents, and in the sizes of their households; although, the respondents in the exposed communities were significantly better educated (p-value < 0.001). There were significant differences in the study groups, in household food security (p-value < 0.000001), and in the prevalence of under-five children with underweight (p-value <0.0001), and wasting (p-value <0.01). Conclusions: Crude oil spillage can increase household food insecurity and childhood malnutrition in the affected communities. Efforts should always be made to provide food aid to affected communities, irrespective of the cause of the spillage.
Keywords: Pipeline oil spill, household food security, malnutrition, rural community, Nigeria.
Nigerian Journal of Medicine Vol. 17 (3) 2008: pp. 304-309