From Oil to Water? The Deepening Crises of Primitive Accumulation in the Waterscapes of Nigeria’s Niger Delta

Victor Ogbonnaya Okorie

Abstract


Using the case of groundwater pollution in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, this paper examines the shifting contours of primitive accumulation in the region. Based on two years of ethnographic research, the paper unravels the losses experienced by individuals and their dependents whose privately owned sources of water were polluted. It argues that the groundwater pollution is a deadly but less discussed form of primitive accumulation that has strong implications for peace and development in the affected communities. The paper concludes that accumulation by dispossession driven by oil exploration in the Niger Delta operates in complex ways and generates multifaceted crises; as such, the prospects for resolving the conflicts lie in addressing various strands of the dispossession, including groundwater pollution in the region.

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