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Poverty in the Midst of Riches

Unfortunately, economic growth, does not always mean poverty reduction. The profits are rarely evenly distributed and this can lead to unrest and protests by the poor who reap no benefits from the increased wealth. Where do the profits go?

The Nigerian oil industry is an example where the new riches have not relieved poverty in the country.

Oil Pipe Manifold in Niger Delta Region
Oil Pipe Manifold in Niger Delta Region

Watch the five short videos, "Curse of the Black Gold" from National Geographic (video to the left of the text), and answer the questions below.

  1. How long has Nigeria had oil production?
  2. According to the people interviewed, have the people of the Niger delta benefitted from the oil revenues?
  3. What problems for the local population are related to the oil industry?
  4. What are the different approaches that people have adopted to try and improve the situation?
  5. What is MEND?
  6. Where is most of the Nigerian oil exported to?
  7. What would the people like the western community to do?
  8. Which people give their views of the situation in the Niger delta? Do you think the videos give a balanced report?
Suggested Answers
  1. About 50 years
  2. Not according to the people in the video.
  3. pollution, ruined fishing industry, danger from accidents
  4. religion, armed resistance, peaceful protest
  5. It is an armed resistance group - Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.
  6. The USA and Europe.
  7. Intervene and support the people against the government and the oil companies.
  8. Tribal leaders, local fishermen, representatives from the Church, members of MEND, an activist


There are three different approaches to the problems in Nigeria which are mentioned in the videos. Note down as many of the positive and negative aspects of these approaches as you can. Discuss in small groups which of these approaches you would recommend. Give reasons.

Further Information

Nigerian Oil Spills from The Guardian, May 2010

Conflict in the Niger Delta

After working with this text go on to read more about the uneven distribution of wealth in developing countries. Unemployment and Unrest in Developing Countries