, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 129–139 | Cite as

Women's status, environmental changes and child health in the riverine area of Ondo State, Nigeria

  • B.F. Iyun


The viewpoint that most health problems are environmentally related has always been promoted by medical geography. In recent times, concern about environmental degradation has been of high priority for many national and international organizations as ‘we human beings become a threat to our planet’. There is also a need to specifically focus attention on the impact of so-called development efforts on the health of women and children, in particular those living in highly marginalized regions which often contribute substantially to the overall development of their countries.

This paper uses the concept of vulnerability as a departure point from which to map the health risks to children in Igbekun area of Ondo State, the ‘transgressive muddy’ oil-rich coastal area of Nigeria. The paper attempts to highlight the poor quality of life and health of children in particular, and how it is becoming much more difficult to practice health intervention programmes, especially oral rehydration therapy (ORT) in the area.

The Igbekun area is an unhealthy and harsh environment, complicated by the devastating effects of oil drilling in recent years. The siltation and sedimentation of the creeks and lagoons have serious health dimensions as human faeces float in and around villages because the ‘bush toilets’ can no longer be reached. The on-going environmental crisis has also deprived women of their traditional means of livelihood; fishing.

There is a relatively high level of ignorance (compared with other women living in the same local government area (LGA) of causes of the commonest diseases such as diarrhoea, acute respiratory infection (ARI) and measles. A majority of the women have never heard of family planning, immunization against diseases and interventions such as ORT. Promotive health care services, especially those that strive to reduce the high mortality of children have passed the mothers by. It is also becoming impracticable to promote ORT because of the widespread ‘salty and oily’ water supply in the area.

The greatest concern of the women now is that oil drilling activities have further amplified their stressful conditions especially their health and that of their children. Unfortunately, their plight is not acknowledged by the Nigerian authorities and the oil companies are least concerned about alleviating the poor health status of the community, in particular the most vulnerable groups, children under the age of five.

child heath environmental changes women's status 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • B.F. Iyun
    • 1
  1. 1.Pan-African StudiesUniversity of LouisvilleLouisville, Ky.U.S.A

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