Strategies for Sustainable Integrated Oil Disaster Management in West Africa


Background Information

According to Coppola (2011, p. 252), disasters are situations or occurrences that devastate the local capabilities. In this context, disasters appeal for national or worldwide help. Disasters are categorized into two major classes; natural and non-natural disasters. Contextually, natural disasters are comprised of hydro-meteorological and Geophysical disasters. Non-natural disasters take into account man-made disasters which are mostly linked to industrial actions. Examples of these disasters include; chemical spills, breakdown of industrial structures, blasts, fire outbreak, gas leakage extermination, radiation, various events like failure of domestic or non-industrial constructions and many others (Mcentire 2007, p. 119). One of the major disasters that have great negative impact on the environment includes oil spillage. Even though the most advanced technologies are engaged in the exploration of oil, obligatory measures staged to avert oil spills still take place (Fingas 2011, p. 4). Some of the negative impacts of oil spills include; pollution of groundwater, mass transience of aquatic life, de-vegetation associated environmental damage, harm to the biodiversity in breeding grounds as well as decline in the sizes of land open for agriculture amongst many others (Vallero & Letcher 2012, Pg. 133) There have been several reported cases of oil spill in West Africa. However, there could be strategic management methods that could assist in the prevention of oil spills, Awareness and Response strategies for the sensitization of the oil sector, and measures to help in fighting cases of oil spillage in emerging nations such as Nigeria, which is taken as a case study for this research. This forms the basis of this proposal.

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Statement of Problem

From the early 1950s, when oil was discovered in Nigeria, the country has suffered from serious negative impacts as a result of oil exploration. The growth in Nigeria’s oil industry, populace, and poor execution of environmental legislation has impacted negatively on the country’s environmental sustainability. This has been noticed mostly in the Niger Delta quarters. There have been regular cases of spillage of oil in the Niger Delta, and the associated degradation of the nearby environment has resulted in substantial tension between individuals residing in the area and the international oil corporations working there. Big regions of the mangrove ecology have been devastated. In other locations, the situation is no longer safe to endure this use. Existing strategies don’t seem to yield many results (Woods & Woods 2008, p. 20).


The main objective of this study is to develop an appropriate strategic management to help in the prevention of oil spills, alertness and response policies for the decontamination of the oil sector, and to fight against cases of oil spills in emerging nations. This is a critical provision in the context of environmental sustainability.

Research Questions

For this study the following research questions were considered:

  1. Which are the existing strategic management plans?
  2. What are the challenges in the implementation of the present strategic management plans?
  3. Which measures need to be taken in developing an appropriate system to deal with cases of oil spills in emerging countries?


There is need to protect the resources and livelihood available in the country’s coastal region; this provision is appreciated by every concerned state. Besides, the essential legal foundations for required action are already available in several national legislations. UNCLOS III, as well as Abidjan, are examples of these. In addition, past oil spills have caused serious negative consequences that obviously validate the need for action. Also, it is remarkable that most of the actions envisioned in this proposal have at present been acknowledged as national and local precedence (Cheremisinoff & Davletshin 2010, p. 86). It is vital to understand the provisions of environmental protection in this context.


This proposal entails the major causes of oil spills in West Africa, reviews the existing framework for the management of oil spillage about prevention and fight against spills and finally the appropriate measures that need to be taken for better strategies for resilient and sustainable integrated oil disaster management in West Africa

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The major limitation of this study is that it depends much on the already established research works whose outcomes could not be proved to be very accurate.

Literature review


‘Disasters’ are not the best framework to investigate oil spills and their management. A lot of research has been conducted to help in the management of oil spillage in emerging nations. On the other hand, an environmental hazards perspective could work and could build a study around the technological hazards management literature. However, there are still some loopholes that thwart proper management of oil spills in these regions. Oil spill disasters and means of managing them have developed into major areas of research in the present years. This attentiveness shows that the biosphere has turned out to be a more hazardous place for its dwellers that are becoming more susceptible to disasters. Data and statistics collected throughout the world indicate that the numbers of individuals who die because of natural disasters have become constant at approximately 80,000 annually. Individuals who are affected by disasters and related economic damages are too high. Cases of economic losses and loss of biodiversity associated with oil spills are not exceptional worldwide. In the 1990s, approximately $ 40 billion annually was estimated in terms of losses resulting from oil spillage worldwide. All oil-producing and exploring countries have recognized that unsuitable human capacity, insufficient regulations as well as poor implementation of these regulations are the major limitations in national marine contamination and oil spillage management structures. Currently, several organizations have been created to help in the management of disasters both globally and within specific countries. For instance, it is vital to note that the Nigeria’s government established the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to handle ecological and socio-economic hiccups (in the region), which were perceived to be directly related to activities in the oil industry. This will incorporate the aspects of legislation, policy, organization structures, and decision-making arrangements.

Exploration/utilization of oil is usually done at the coastal quarters of oil-producing states. For illustration, it is important to note that Nigeria’s oil exploration missions occur in the coastal areas; on land or offshore (Frynas 1999, p. 263). While considering the World Bank’s report (quoted in the Nigerian report regarding integrated Problem Analysis), the pervasiveness of sabotage-related oil spillage between 1991-1994 rose from 10-13 % in Nigeria’s Delta state. In Nigeria alone, nearly 1,581 cases of oil spillage were registered from 1970-1982. Notably, this comprised of nearly 2, 000.000 oil barrels, and 242-319 cases of oil spillages were equally registered from 1998-1999. Many other West African countries also report a high number of cases of oil spills annually (Ham 2009, p. 86).

Institutional arrangements for oil spill hazard prevention and management in Nigeria

The planning provisions demand that the owner/operator handling oil vessels and marine facilities should possess or lease “on-water” recovery as well as storage resources enough to respond to all oil spills. It is important to ensure a “safer” Nigeria via spill-free oil and chemical handling. There should be spill prevention through the evaluation and sanction of prevention provisions for oil stations, pipelines/tank vessels/barges/railroads/refineries/ and exploration as well as production. Viable storage facilities should also be used (Susanne & Peytavi 2010). There is also need to have a preparedness program. As stated in various sources, it is vital to help in the prevention of oil spills, alertness and response policies for the decontamination of the oil sector, and to fight against cases of oil spills in developing nations including Nigeria.

Effectiveness of Those Arrangements

These arrangements are very effective since they incorporate the aspects of legislation, policy, organization structures, and decision-making arrangements. Critically, these frameworks apply to the concepts of induction and deduction. However, it is crucial to note that the investigation is set to assume the phenomenological approach because it is largely qualitative and supports the exploratory concentration of the research.

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Examining the options for improving those arrangements so that oil spills risks are reduced

It is important to enact viable and comprehensive regulations on the matter. In most cases, spills are related to accidents and mechanical disasters, though occasionally are caused by sabotage by agitated and dissatisfied groups.

Theoretical Framework

In 1992, Oyewo managed to research the effects of toxic wastes/oil spillage on marine resources; this was staged to elongate Nigeria’s developmental sustainability. Even though some of the findings are true, just like many other types of research, no proper implementation was followed. While executing this study, it will be crucial to observe existing theories concerning this topic. The theoretical framework for this investigation provides a clear empirical model of examination and analysis of basic elements and factors. Basically, it is notable that two major models of assumptions are presently eminent in the conduct of empirical and business investigations. In the theoretical framework of this investigation, it is evident that positivist and phenomenological models are basically applied to analyze basic concepts (Thomas & Barlow 2011, p. 8).

Critique of the Existing Literature

A research conducted by Lucy Aukett on the use of GIS in oil spill preparedness and response had limitations in that GIS is a quick means of providing visualized data and pictures taken during the incident, but it requires experts and competence of the user. This means it will be limited in its applications. Most other researches also have their limitations mostly on expertise required and large capital investments.


Since most of the research has limitations, no proper strategies have been developed to fight cases of oil spills in the country.

Research gaps

There is need for stakeholder involvement in research. This will not only help in incorporating their opinions but also help in finding amicable solutions to this disaster and finding appropriate means of implementation of research findings.


Research design

This research involves the reviewing of already established works found in the library, administration of questionnaires to get the true picture on the ground and collection of samples of water used for drinking and washing as well as soil samples for analysis to get the extent of pollution. From these analyses proper strategies for the management of oil spills can be developed to help in prevention, preparedness and response to such cases. This research will go through research design, literature review, primary data collection, data compilation, analysis, and derivation of the intended findings. According to Merrigan, & Huston (2009, p. 45) purposive research technique will provide the researcher with a superior study mechanism that is relevant in executing investigations with well-orchestrated objectives. The technique ensures that the purposive nature of the topic under study is understood adequately.


The target population for this research includes the majority of people living in the coastal Nigeria who are adversely affected by frequent oil spills. In addition, various stakeholders such as executives of oil companies operating around the region are also included in the research to help in developing appropriate strategies (Okut-uma 1999, p. 225)

Sampling Frame, Sample and Technique used

The sampling process involved collecting samples from the water used by indigenous people for drinking and washing. In addition, soil samples are also collected and analyzed to determine if they contain oil residues. These concentrations could be compared to safety standards set out by the European Union (Ornitz & Champ 2002, p. 130). This will provide an accurate data on the extent of spillage in Nigeria.


Instruments required for conducting and implementation of this research include financial support, laboratory water and soil testing for the oil concentration equipment, and questionnaires.

Data collection procedure

Methods for data collection include administration of questionnaires, visiting some villages in Nigeria to collect samples required for analysis, as well as conducting library research to get already established works on this topic. In addition, interviews can also be conducted with executives of the oil companies operating in the region to find their honest opinions on oil spillage and how they deal with this disaster.

Data Processing and Analysis

Data analysis

Data analysis is fundamental in any research study since it leads to formulation of the findings. Contextually, this study will adopt conventional data analysis technique where pertinent software resources will be used to analyze the information obtained. The researcher will administer the data collected to ascertain their relevance and credibility in boosting the formulation of accurate findings (Dantzker & Hunter 2012, p. 34). The researcher will perform systematic data evaluation and administration especially the information obtained from the presented questionnaires. The questions will be developed by the research topic and will be based on the set objectives. In this context, data processing involves sorting and comparing collected data to other sources and established standards such as European concentration standards. Additionally, the obtained data can be compared to other countries that have implemented the envisioned strategies. The data can be presented in form of charts, graphs and images for clear understanding. These instruments also serve a useful purpose of analyzing data (Merrigan & Huston, 2009). This is a critical provision in the context of disaster management and data analysis provisions.

In other contexts, the research will employ analytical test methods to scrutinize the results. Nonetheless, data analysis will occur at both quantitative as well as qualitative levels. In explanation, quantitative analysis will consider numerical aspects of research about the oil spill in Nigeria. In this context, it will handle issues related to volume, numbers, capacity, and other related quantitative provisions relevant to this research. The number/quantity of mathematical vocabularies will be discerned in this context. Conversely, qualitative analysis will consider particular/distinct research provisions demanded in this study. In explanation, the use of graphical presentation, pie charts, bar graphs, and distribution tables will be applied due to their precision, comprehensibility, and appropriateness (Thomas & Barlow, 2011).


Cheremisinoff, P & Davletshin, A 2010, Emergency Response Management of Offshore Oil Spills Guidelines for Emergency Responders, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.

Coppola, P 2011, Introduction to International Disaster Management, Elsevier Science, Burlington.

Fingas, M 2011, Oil spill science and technology prevention, response, and clean up, Gulf Professional Pub./Elsevier, Burlington, MA.

Frynas, J 1999, Oil in Nigeria: conflict and litigation between oil companies and village communities, Lit Verlag, Münster.

Ham, A 2009, West Africa, Lonely Planet, Footscray, Victoria.

Mcentire, D 2007, Disciplines, disasters and emergency management: the convergence and divergence of concepts, issues and trends from the research literature, SPRINGFIELD Press, New York.

Merrigan, G & Huston, C 2009, Communication research method, Oxford University Press, New York, NY.

Okut-Uma, R 1999, Pollution control and waste management in developing countries, Commonwealth Secretariat, London

Ornitz, E & Champ, A 2002, Oil spills first principles prevention and best response, Elsevier, Amsterdam.

Susanne, P & Peytavi, J 2010, Toward Operational Oil Spill Response in West and Central Africa, Web.

Thomas, D & Barlow, M 2011, The executive’s guide to enterprise social media strategy: how social networks are radically transforming your business, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.

Vallero, D & Letcher, T 2012, Unraveling Environmental Disasters, ELSEVIER SCIENCE, Burlington.

Woods, M & Woods, M 2008, Environmental disasters, Lerner Publications Co., Minneapolis.

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