Introduction: Under-five years old (U5) children that reside in oil spill communities are exposed to various pollutants, and therefore are prone to respiratory symptoms and diseases. This study aimed to develop a deeper understanding on the lived experiences of U5 children residing in these communities.
Methods: The study was done in August, 2022 , on eleven caregivers/parents of U5 children, aged 26-45 years old via purposive sampling. This study utilized a phenomenological research design through in-depth interviews and audio recordings.
Results: Findings revealed that numerous oil spills have occurred, and are still occurring. According to the respondents, these spills are caused majorly by poor maintenance of old, rusted pipelines of oil companies; and pipeline vandalism, leading to land, water and air pollution. Results also showed that these spills have led to several adverse respiratory health (RH) experiences in U5, including cough, catarrh, chest pain and other health emergencies that have resulted in frequent hospital visitations and admissions like difficulty/fast breathing, pneumonia, hemoptysis, exacerbation of previously existing conditions, asthma development, etc. The destruction of their source of livelihood, have contributed to worsening these symptoms.
Conclusion: U5 children living in crude oil polluted areas are burdened with a high prevalence of respiratory symptoms and diseases. Implementation of already existing regulatory laws on oil pollution, prompt clean-up of oil spills, provision of standard health facilities, and trained health personnels, were some of the measures recommended to curb the menace of crude oil spills and its RH effects.