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Regional inequality and the Niger Delta

Briefing/policy papers

This paper is part of a collection of five policy briefs was commissioned by the World Bank for the 2009 World Development Report Reshaping Economic Geography.  This brief explores regional inequality in Nigeria, focussing specifically on the Niger Delta. Specifically, it explores one of the Government of Nigeria’s (GoN) responses to the marginalisation of the Niger Delta, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and examines this in the context of the worsening development situation in the Niger Delta.

Poverty and inequality in Nigeria has strong regional concentrations, resulting in significant levels of regional disparity. The Niger Delta is a region that has been somewhat marginalised from Nigeria’s national development, despite being the region that generates Nigeria’s oil wealth. The GoN’s policy response to this marginalisation and relative underdevelopment is the NDDC, which was established in 2000. The development of the Niger Delta since the NDDC was established shows that poverty reduction progress has been slow, particularly given the Niger Delta’s substantial natural resource endowments and additional federal government resources. It is difficult to assess the effectiveness of the NDDC, however, and the extent to which it has ontributed, or failed to contribute, to poverty reduction in the Niger Delta. What is apparent, however, is that natural resource endowments do not necessary translate into welfare gains for communities. In  addition, national level government political and financial commitment to address regional disparities may not be enough: it may be rejected because of the ‘top down’ nature of the approach and ineffective if reliant on institutionally weak state and local governments.

All five policy briefs in this series seek to explore how a range of policy instruments might influence spatial differentiation within countries.  The policy briefs explore different policy instruments and issues, but all have three common objectives. First, to explore the spatial disparity that motivated the policy response; second, to outline the policy instrument; and third, to examine the impact of the policy.

Kate Higgins