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News Link • Africa: On the Map

Dangerous, Toxic, and Necessary — Photos Go Inside DIY Oil Refining in the Niger Delta

•, By Pete Brook
Samuel James, a New York City photographer, traveled to Nigeria in 2012 to document the ongoing environmental and social problems tied to the country’s oil industry. For his series The Water of My Land, James went deep into the creeks of the Delta to document the illicit theft and refining of crude oil by locals who are drawn to illegal activity against a backdrop of dire poverty in the region.
“Billions of dollars of oil are pumped out of the delta each year but the economic conditions on the ground have really remained the same. There’s been little effort to develop these areas in which the oil is being extracted,” says James, who laments the fact that not enough of the profits from oil have been used to improve basic services such as roads, healthcare and education. “The local population has been pushed to the wall. Bunkering is very hot and very toxic. It’s not work anyone would want to do. I’m just trying to make that point.”

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