by Bunmi Ibigbami

Ogun set to begin new waste management initiative[1]

Policy Issues: Environment and Sustainable Development.

The Ogun State Government proposed a new waste management process known as ‘Clean-up initiative’ in order to improve public hygiene in the state. The Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Olatokunbo Talabi, described the present Ogun state’s waste management system as capable of endangering peoples’ lives. According to him, the government has effectively studied and observed the existing waste management process before the decision to introduce another process that includes waste recycling. In implementing this new plan, the government claimed it had appointed a waste management expert to manage, supervise and direct the collection and management of waste generated in the state, ‘adding that there was an urgent need to explore the sustainability of the process’.

On Waste Management: Citizens’ input over Government’s programmes

Waste management is one major environmental challenge in most Nigerian cities. According to a report, waste generation rate in Nigeria is estimated at 0.65-0.95 kg/capita/day which gives an average of 42 million tonnes of wastes  generated annually (more than half of 62 million tonnes of waste generated in sub-Sahara Africa yearly).[2] For example, a slaughtered cow produces about 328.4 kg of wastes in the form of dung, bone, blood, horn and hoof. Markets and households generate a variety of wastes. People also litter the roads with no ‘civic concern’[3] and sense of hygiene. It has been noted that 57% of wastes generated are organic wastes which creates additional disposal problems.[4] See in fig. 1[5] below:

The challenges of waste management in Nigeria range from poor collection and disposal methods; poor waste management database; poor public attitude; non-compliance to laws and lack of awareness on dangers of poor hygiene etc.[6] The side effects of poor waste management practice include: health hazard, traffic congestion, unpleasantness and blockage of drainage, etc. The government as well as the citizens has roles to play in adopting more suitable solutions to these problems.[7] Ogun state government needs to answer some salient questions before inaugurating the new waste management process. How were the ‘study and observation’ of the existing waste management in the state carried out? Was any data released to that effect? If yes, what method of survey was employed? According to the article[8], the government has appointed a waste management expert to monitor the process. The expert needs to work with stakeholders from the ministry of Environment and representatives from civil societies (e.g. Market and community associations); in the implementation of the plan.

As we have seen, one of the clean-up initiative programmes would be to ‘sensitize the people about the importance of maintaining a healthy environment’. In Nigeria, one major issue to combat is the general attitude of the public towards waste management. The ‘government-does-everything’ philosophy of many Nigerians contributes to domestic waste management problems. A careless attitude invades the thinking especially of those living in cities and towns.[9] However, ‘there is a likelihood that Nigerians will continue to push waste management solely to the government if there are no incentives to encourage collaborative management (since Nigerians have no trust in the government in the first place). In societies like Columbia, Germany, Indonesia, Sweden, they do not just advocate the virtues of recycling, they reward citizens through initiatives such as “recycle plastics and get rewarded” which are driven by the private sector and supported by the government’.[10]

In conclusion, the citizenry needs to work with the government to manage and control waste in Nigerian cities. According to a report[11], nations across the world are setting up and implementing policies that align to zero waste goals initiatives. Such initiatives are legalized through collaborations between the government and stakeholders, thereby creating a framework by which waste management can be controlled and incentivized. For example, Switzerland has its zero waste goal, a method of waste management called the 5 R-method[12] which gives lines of thought onto the modes of consumption of the populace and a procedure to reduce waste and by so doing minimize their ecological footprint. ‘The purpose of the 5 R-method is not to deprive the citizenry but rather to take responsibility and to question all current habits of consumption’[13].

 

[1]Ogun set to begin new waste management initiative by Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi on the 5th of November 2019 in the Punch Newspaper (Online Version). Available at: https://punchng.com/ogun-set-to-begin-new-waste-management-initiative/. Date accessed: 5/11/2019.

[2]Solid Waste Management in Nigeria: Problems, Prospects, and Policies. Journal of Solid Waste Technology and Management 44(2):163-172 · November 2018. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328914649_Solid_Waste_Management_in_Nigeria_Problems_Prospects_and_Policies. Date accessed: 5/11/2019.

[3]M.K.C. Sridhar (2006). Determination of carbon emission potentials in a solid waste management facility in Akure, Nigeria. International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/scientific-contributions/47533169_MKC_Sridhar. Date accessed: 5/11/2019.

[4]Ibid.

[5]Igniting waste management culture in Nigeria. Available at: https://medium.com/@ThistlePraxis/igniting-waste-management-culture-in-nigeria-738d279c3fc8. Date accessed: 5/11/2019.

[6]Ibid.

[7]See N. Nwigwe (2008).  Problems and prospects of refuse disposal in Nigerian urban centres, International Journal of Natural and Applied Sciences. Available at : https://www.ajol.info/index.php/ijonas/article/view/49880. Date accessed: 5/11/2019

[8]Op. Cit. Ogun set to begin new waste management initiative by Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi on the 5th of November 2019 in the Punch Newspaper (Online Version).

[9]Igniting waste management culture in Nigeria. Available at: https://medium.com/@ThistlePraxis/igniting-waste-management-culture-in-nigeria-738d279c3fc8. Date accessed: 5/11/2019.

[10]5 Countries That Have Revolutionized the Way They Tackle Waste by Anisha Bhatia. Available at: https://swachhindia.ndtv.com/5-countries-revolutionised-way-tackle-trash-waste-5013/. Date accessed: 5/11/2019.

[11]Ibid. Igniting waste management culture in Nigeria. Available at: https://medium.com/@ThistlePraxis/igniting-waste-management-culture-in-nigeria-738d279c3fc8. Date accessed: 5/11/2019.

[12]The 5 Rs are: Refuse what we do not need; reduce what we need and that cannot be refused, re-use what we cannot either refuse or reduce; recycle what we cannot either refuse, reduce or re-use; and Rot by composting.

[13]Op.Cit. Igniting waste management culture in Nigeria. Available at: https://medium.com/@ThistlePraxis/igniting-waste-management-culture-in-nigeria-738d279c3fc8. Date accessed: 5/11/2019.