AN ANALYSIS OF THE IMPACT OF IDP CAMPS ON ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION OWERRI METROPOLIS.
1.1 Background of the study
The issue of internal displacement of individuals extends beyond Nigeria and the African continent, as various global factors such as unrest, insurgency, natural disasters, and alleged genocide have led to significant instances of internal displacement in countries such as Syria, Myanmar, Pakistan, Vietnam, and Peru (Devictor & Do, 2016). Displacement camps of diverse kind have been used to address the requirements of individuals impacted by conflicts in these volatile regions, adopting various strategies in the construction of temporary dwellings. The majority of the designs used a mix of wooden frames, earth bricks, corrugated metal roofing sheets, plywood cladding, or plastic sheeting. These materials were chosen for their ease of assembly within a timeframe of 24-72 hours. Additionally, the designs were specifically intended to have a lifetime ranging from 2 to 5 years (Adesote & Peters, 2015). In response to the magnitude of displaced individuals and the availability of resources, it has been seen that campgrounds have been able to provide a range of 200 to 10,000 units of temporary housing units as a means to reduce the challenges faced by people in need of shelter. The aforementioned circumstances have precipitated significant alterations in the ecological makeup of the impacted regions, thus leading to the deterioration of the ecosystem. The escalating rise in the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria has emerged as a recurring subject of discussion and significant concern among Nigerians, particularly among Geographers. This pertains to the impact that IDPs have on the environment, specifically in relation to environmental degradation. The phenomenon of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nigeria has its roots prior to the colonial period, and the factors contributing to displacement are characterised by a multitude of dimensions, intricacy, and frequent interconnections. Nigeria has had instances of internal conflicts and widespread violence stemming from ethnoreligious, inter-ethnic, intra and inter-communal disputes. These wars have led to the relocation of many innocent Nigerians across the various geopolitical regions inside the nation (Crossman, 2017). Based on the DTM (2016), it has been observed that over 18.7% of internally displaced individuals find themselves living in camps. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR, 2016) has classified these camps into five distinct categories of displacement camps. Dispersed communities: Displaced persons establish their residence in the dwellings of unaffected families or on privately held land or properties inside rural or urban communities. This arrangement entails the sharing of pre-existing lodgings, or the establishment of temporary ones in close proximity, together with the sharing of water, sanitary facilities, cooking areas, and other amenities provided by the pre-existing homes. Mass Shelter in Collective Centres: Displaced individuals seek lodging in educational facilities, military barracks, community centres, storage facilities, unfinished structures, and many other publicly-owned buildings. This phenomenon is most evident when there is a substantial influx of displaced individuals into metropolitan areas or towns where they lack any family ties. Reception and Transit Camps: These types of camps serve as prompt and temporary accommodations to address the shelter requirements of those who have been displaced in the context of an urgent crisis. Typically, individuals are temporarily housed in order to facilitate their eventual transfer to more appropriate and secure long-term detention facilities. Self-established Camps: This phenomenon occurs when a displaced community establishes camps without relying on government or private assistance. Self-settled camps are often located on unoccupied state-owned, privately owned, or communal land. Planned camps refer to designated areas established to accommodate those who have been displaced. These camps are equipped with comprehensive infrastructure, including amenities such as water supply, distribution of food and nonfood items, access to education, and healthcare services. According to the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) report in 2016, a total of 118 displacement camps were detected in Nigeria. These camps were categorised as either collective settlement centres or self-settled camps. Among them, 36 camps were reported to consist of self-made tents, while 32 camps were established inside government facilities. Additionally, 30 camps were found to be located within school premises (DTM, 2016).
It is important to acknowledge that relocation might have environmental implications, leading to environmental deterioration. The phenomenon of rapid urbanisation or inadequately managed refugee camps and internally displaced persons (IDP) settlements may exert significant strain on water and water resources, energy and food resources, and result in unregulated waste disposal. A research study was conducted to examine the effects of internally displaced people (IDPs) on the forest and vegetation in Jere Local Government Area (LGA), located in Borno State, Nigeria. The findings of the study indicate that the presence of displaced individuals has a significant influence on the forest and vegetation, therefore affecting the surrounding host communities. The involvement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in deforestation may be attributed to their need to satisfy their own subsistence requirements for timber, mostly for constructing shelters and obtaining fuel. Additionally, IDPs participate in the sale of firewood and charcoal inside both the camps and the nearby markets, so generating income (Musa et al., 2019). The study also revealed that an approximate area of 4 square kilometres of forest underwent deforestation due to the activities of 6,377 internally displaced persons (IDPs). These IDPs said that their only source of income is derived from the extraction of trees for fuel, which they then sell. The extent of environmental degradation caused by the 'Boko Haram' insurgency has resulted in the displacement of individuals residing in the Northeastern area. The magnitude of this displacement can only be conceptualised when considering the extensive damage of both human lives and material assets carried out by the Boko Haram militants. Quantifying the extent of environmental degradation caused by the insurgency proves challenging due to the limited availability of statistical data in this regard. The existing information primarily relies on anecdotal accounts provided by individuals involved in the insurgency, as well as those who have observed or been affected by it (Umaru, 2017). The degradation of the environment may be attributed to the direct and unintentional repercussions of military actions undertaken by the major stakeholders involved in the conflict. Environmental deterioration is evident across all levels, including woods, rural and urban areas, as well as displaced person camps. Therefore, the study aims to examine the effect of idp camps on urban environmental degradation.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Environmental degradation refers to the gradual deterioration of the natural environment, resulting in adverse effects such as less biological variety and degraded general environmental health. The occurrence of this process may stem from natural causes, or it may be influenced by human actions, either via acceleration or direct causation. The term "environmental alteration" refers to any kind of modification or disruption to the natural surroundings that is seen as harmful or unwanted. Environmental degradation is recognised as one of the ten dangers that have been explicitly proposed by the High-level Panel on dangers, Challenges, and Change of the United Nations. According to Umaru (2017), the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction characterises environmental degradation as the decline in the environment's ability to fulfil societal and ecological goals and requirements. There are several forms of environmental deterioration. This entails the development of camps specifically designed to accommodate internally displaced individuals. The development of internally displaced people (IDP) camps, whether planned or unplanned, has offered temporary relief for several individuals who have been relocated. However, it is commonly acknowledged that a significant portion of the IDP camps in Nigeria are mostly comprised of vacant classroom blocks, hostels, spacious halls, or rudimentary shelters constructed from thatch, cloth, or other lightweight materials. The existing facilities are very inadequate and in a state of disrepair, exacerbating the suffering of victims by exposing them to unsanitary living circumstances (Adesote & Peters, 2015). Despite being commonly regarded as temporary housing, the lack of proper site planning and inadequate waste management practises raise concerns regarding sustainable alternatives for temporary shelters. These concerns aim to enhance the living conditions of individuals affected by post-insurgency situations until they are rehabilitated and emotionally prepared to reintegrate into their respective communities. Hence, the study will look into the effect of IDP camps on urban environmental degradation.
1.3 Objective of the study
The broad objective of the study is to investigate the impact of IDP Camps on environmental degradation in Owerri metropolis. The specific objectives is as follows:
i. Assess the level of internal displacement in Owerri metropolis.
ii. Ascertain the extent IDP camps contributes to environmental degradation in Owerri metropolis.
iii. Find out the effect of IDP camps on environmental degradation in Owerri metropolis.
1.4 Research questions
The following questions have been prepared for the study:
i. What is the level of internal displacement in Owerri metropolis?
ii. What is the extent IDP camps contributes to environmental degradation in Owerri metropolis?
iii. What are the effect of IDP camps on environmental degradation in Owerri metropolis?
1.5 Resrearch Hypotheses
The hypotheses have been formulated for the study:
Ho: IDP camps does not contribute to environmental degradation in Owerri metropolis.
Ha: IDP camps contributes to environmental degradation in Owerri metropolis.
1.6 Significance of the study
1.7 Scope of the study
The study focuses on assessing the impact of IDP Camps on environmental degradation Owerri metropolis. Hence, the study will assess the level of internal displacement in Owerri metropolis, ascertain the extent IDP camps contributes to environmental degradation in Owerri metropolis and find out the effect of IDP camps on environmental degradation in Owerri metropolis. The study is delimited to Owerri, Imo State.
1.8 Limitations of the study
Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.