Rita Uwaka, FoE Africa Coordinator
October 27, 2022

The petition by Friends of the Earth – Nigeria, and its allies Youth Volunteers in Cote d’ Ivoire and Ghana, together with impacted communities to SIAT at its head office in Belgium about the negative impacts of the activities of their companies has yielded result, Madam Rita Uwaka, Coordinator of FoEA has disclosed.
Friends of the Earth – Africa (FoE – Africa) is a non-governmental environmental organization which operates in 72 countries around the world and 11 countries in Africa, (of which the West Africa sub-region is one) to check abuse and other human right violations by these multinational companies operating on the continent.

According to Madam Rita Uwaka, after the presentation of their petition against SIAT which operates plantations in the sub-region at their Head office in Belgium in June 2022, the head office of SIAT has agreed to send down a team by the end of this month from the head office in Belgium to visit Ivory Coast, followed by Nigeria and Ghana to see for themselves issues of abuse of human rights and environmental degradation being carried out by the multinational company.
“The companies are compelled to visit the communities; just last month they indicated they are coming to Ivory Coast by the end of this month to address the concerns they raised. So the head office is coming with an overall team to assess and understand the concerns raised and find a way of addressing those concerns”.

And further pointed out in a media engagement via zoom that communities in which these deforestation, land grabbing and the use of harmful chemicals are ongoing are getting more aggressive in defending their rights, and these communities are suing companies in courts over these developments,
Miss Rita further added that after their presentation at the plenary at the First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament, they visited some members of the European Parliament who are decision makers who are powerful in terms of decision making which would add on to the value of environmental issues.

Additionally, she said after their (Human Rights Environmental Defenders) engagement with the Community Parliament, they have been trying to reach out to national governments and policy makers within the West Africa sub-region to see how issues that were raised at the ECOWAS Parliament have been respected.

SIAT, she noted are mainly in the oil palm plantation, rubber plantation in West Africa mainly Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Ghana and also do cattle rearing in Gabon. Consistently in Africa, these companies pollute water bodies because of their agro-chemicals. She asserts that most of these companies operate within West Africa, and that is the reason they (FoE – Africa) appeared at the floor of the ECOWAS Parliament to point out these issue.

Furthermore, it is not only the environmental advocates whose rights are being abused but journalists who publish stories on the kind of abuse being perpetrated also do come under attack, she added.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com