Kiisi Trust Fund
Ogoniland has long been an area symbolic in the minds of people both inside and outside of the Niger Delta for its struggle against environmental degradation caused by resource exploitation. In the early 1990s, the region came to international prominence after the death of environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. The struggle of Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni activists eventually led to the cessation of oil production activities in the area in 1993, but widespread environmental damage was already done. Ogoniland has been beset by many of the same conflict dynamics that affect the wider Niger Delta region, including cultism, militancy, the proliferation of weapons, intra- and intercommunal conflict, chieftaincy tussles, and widespread youth unemployment. The region has become highly polarized during past election cycles in Rivers State, Nigeria, with politicians, militants and security figures recruiting cultists and restive youth to intimidate and coerce adversaries and opponents.
The Kiisi Trust was established in 2009 as part of a United States Federal Court out-of-court settlement in the Wiwa vs. Shell case. The settlement arose out of a lawsuit against the Royal Dutch Shell Company by survivors and family members of people who were victims of human rights abuses arising out of Shell’s Nigerian operations in Ogoniland in Rivers State, Nigeria, the homeland of the Ogoni people. The Trust was created from a $15.5 million settlement reached with Shell, $5 million of which was set aside by the Plaintiffs to create the Kiisi Trust for the benefit for the Ogoni people and their communities. The settlement of the Wiwa v. Shell case is recognized as a victory for human rights and environmental justice in Nigeria and as a pivotal step towards holding corporations accountable for complicity in human rights violations, wherever they may be committed. The name “kiisi” means “progress” in Ogoni. The Trust is currently being managed by TrustAfrica as a donor-advised-fund.