An aerial view during a media tour by oil company Royal Dutch Shell shows an illegal oil refining site with the runoff from crude oil covering the banks along the Imo river, 30 km (20 miles) west of Nigeria’s oil hub city of Port Harcourt, on September 22, 2011. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) World Water Day
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© Akintunde Akinleye, 2006, from the series ‘A Vanishing Wetland’, Lagos / Nigeria

'A man rinses soot from his face at the scene of a petrol pipeline explosion. At least 260 people were killed after a punctured pipeline caught fire. Thieves had tapped it to fill tankers with petrol for resale, and hundreds of people had gone to the scene to scoop up leaking fuel in plastic containers. Pipeline vandalism and fuel theft are common in Nigeria, the world's eighth largest exporter of oil, where most people live in poverty.'

Nigeria has huge resources, but two of these stand out: a population of over 160 million people and a vast crude oil deposit, located in the deep waters of the Delta, one of the world’s vast wetlands. In 1956, the Shell Petroleum Development Company explored and discovered crude oil in large quantities at the remote village of Oloibiri. Half a century later, oil revenues represent more than $400 billion, wasted on political frivolities while a huge number of the population endures extreme poverty and the Delta’s wetland remains one of the most polluted ecological systems in the world.

Akintunde Akinleye was the first Nigerian Photographer to win the prestigious World Press Photo award in 2006 / Category: Spot News. Watch an interview with him HERE.

The photograph above is part of one of Africa’s biggest photography exhibitions, Rencontres de Bamako (1st Nov. 2011 - 1st Jan. 2012, in Bamako / Mali). Hundreds of artists, collectors and curators have gathered in Mali - ecological concerns are a major theme this year.

» find more exhibitions here «

Akintunde Akinleyes best photograph: the aftermath of a Nigerian pipeline explosion

Someone had tried to steal oil from a pipeline and it caught light. There were a lot of burnt bodies I had only been working as a photojournalist for about five years when this explosion happened in 2006. Its a very common problem in Nigeria: people will go out in the middle of the night and burst oil pipelines so they can siphon fuel. In this case, they went behind the sawmill where the pipeline ran and started pumping out the fuel. But there was a spark somewhere When someone told me about the… [Read full article]

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