Study of the Impact of gas flaring on the health of communities in Delta region of Nigeria

Nkemdilim Obi

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Gas flaring during oil and gas operations discharges pollutants into the atmosphere. Some communities in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria believe their health and livelihoods are affected by gas flaring. Hence the need to evaluate the impact of gas flaring on public health and community’ knowledge. The aims and objectives of this study included: evaluating public health impact of gas flares; assessing disease prevention and treatment for diseases associated with gas flaring; comparing the impact on health in gas flaring host communities and non-gas flaring host communities; assessing the association between gas flaring and prevalence of diseases: delineation of opinion from perception; and evaluating government’s efforts in mitigating the adverse effects of gas flaring.
This entire thesis was a cross-sectional mixed method study and 500 self-administered questionnaires to individuals above 18 years of all genders comprised six sections with closed and open-ended items to ensure objectivity and accuracy of data. Thematic analysis was used on qualitative data. Descriptive statistical research methods as well as multiple regression analysis, analysis of variance, Multivariate tests, and Correlation analysis were utilized.
The survey response rate for this entire thesis was 97.4% (487 out of the 500) and participants comprised 40.1% women. Among the 487 respondents, 99.1% resided in 12 oil-producing local government areas across Delta State, while 97.7% of them worked in communities distributed across oil-producing 11 local government areas and 68.2% had worked in the region for 3-20 years. Participants were well distributed in age groups with 89% consisting of 20-70 years old. The respondents comprised 96% with secondary or higher education, and regarding socioeconomic status, 61.7% classified themselves as middle- or upper-class.
On public health impact, the community had knowledge with 90% of respondents affirming the negative impact of gas flaring. However, level of nominal knowledge between educational subgroups shows gradient increase with educational status, but no statistical difference observed in demographic subgroups.
Regarding prevention and treatment programmes for diseases associated with gas flaring, 40% of the participants disagreed while 39% agreed that there were prevention programmes by oil companies. Lack of capacity among the communities’ low-mid social class to appropriately dialogue with government for change was also observed.
On comparison of environmental and occupational health, based on stress and respiratory issues, respectively – i.e. as indicated by respondents; stress was in 62.3% of participants and in 50.9% family members. Respiratory problems were indicated in approximately 25% of the participants and in 33% of family members. Among other ill-health conditions, diabetes was most prevalent. Nearness of residence to gas flare sites was associated with increased frequency in ill-health issues in respondents and their families.
On analysis of purposive survey of association between nearness-to-flare and prevalence of diseases, the results showed neither correlation nor significant difference stratified distance-to-flare site, while MANOVA revealed significance on perception. Thus, implying that nearness to gas flare sites mediates perception of negative health impact.
Evaluation of government’s efforts in mitigating the adverse effects of gas flaring in host communities, and whether there were age and/or gender differences highlighted divergent views on the discourse of government’s efforts in mitigation and adaptation of gas flaring. Empirical evidence of generational gap on environmental issues showed that women agreed more on mitigation and adaptation (p < 0.02), while the silent generation (>70 years old) agreed more on government’s behavioural change wheel but disagreed on mitigation and adaptation while younger generation agreed (p < 0.001).
In conclusion, this thesis provides insights into gas flaring, and the effects on the environment and the health of humans and contributes data on gender and generational gap in discourse of environmental issues. It is acknowledged that movement restrictions including social distancing occasioned by COVID-19 were limitations to the work. This study affirms that the impacts on health in gas flaring host communities are severe compared to non-gas flaring host communities. It is recommended that government and oil companies provide adequate health facilities and health education on impacts of gas flaring for the communities. Further studies need to determine the occurrence, severity, and prevalence of specific diseases in gas flaring host communities compared with non-gas flaring host communities.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Nwose, Uba, Principal Supervisor
  • Bwititi, Phillip, Co-Supervisor
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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