Waste Management: The Nigerian Eye – By Michael C. Ndukwu

From the human body to the kitchen and back, to the sewage and all that, waste generation is an everyday affair and the means of managing it also is. Like we have seen, waste comes from different sources and proper measures should be taken to manage them, or else it will result in pollution or ill-health.

waste management

According to Wikipedia, waste management is the collection, transport, processing or disposal, managing and monitoring of waste materials. The term usually relates to materials produced by human activity, and the process is generally undertaken to reduce their effect on health, the environment or aesthetics. Waste management is a distinct practice from resource recovery which focuses on delaying the rate of consumption of natural resources. All waste materials, whether they are solid, liquid, gaseous or radioactive fall within the remit of waste management.

The detailed definition of waste management above gives clear information to the fact that waste management entails a lot. Wikipedia went on to say that, “Management of non-hazardous residential and institutional waste in metropolitan areas is usually the responsibility of local government authorities, while management for non-hazardous commercial and industrial waste is usually the responsibility of the generator subject to local, national or international controls”. This means that for effective management of waste in Nigeria, the three tiers of government should be actively involved.

So far, this does not seem to be the case with the high increase in waste and little is actually done to salvage the situation. There is just a handful of waste management sites commensurate to the amount of waste disposed. There are a lot of dump sites that are not monitored. Even more is the fact that Nigeria has issues with data generation and management especially as it relates to the subject matter. For the sake of effective waste management, this should be corrected.

As earlier stated, the local, state and federal governments have a lot of work to do in order to ensure that the effect of indiscriminate waste disposal be brought to its barest minimum. They should have active structures in place that would be responsible for waste management policy, financial assurance compliance, and implementing waste management programs. A technical assistance unit should provide support to the control structures or offices that are concerned with the permitting, compliance, and enforcement activities associated with waste facilities. These facilities can include landfills, material recovery facilities, transfer stations, composting/processing facilities, and waste tire management sites.

Practices such as these should be encouraged that will help reduce the amount of waste needed to be disposed of, such as waste prevention, recycling, and composting.

  • Source reduction, or waste prevention, is designing products to reduce the amount of waste that will later need to be thrown away and also to make the resulting waste less toxic.

  • Recycling is the recovery of useful materials, such as paper, glass, plastic, and metals, from the trash to use to make new products, reducing the amount of new raw materials needed.

  • Composting involves collecting organic waste, such as food scraps and yard trimmings, and storing it under conditions designed to help it break down naturally. This resulting compost can then be used as a natural fertilizer.

In all, there are no better ways to resolve the issue of waste than education. In Nigeria, it is only a topic for undergraduate and graduate schools. For us to effectively manage waste in Nigeria, our children should know why they should not litter, why they should not fill the gutters with filth, why they should not throw stuff from the bus vent or window and much more. This is one of the programs the Greenhive Concepts is working on as well as other community development programs/projects.

—About Michael C. Ndukwu—

Ndukwu Michael C. is an environment/community development enthusiast, the Initiator/Team Leader, Greenhive Concepts; and currently a Systems Management Scholar at Aptech Computer Centre, Lagos. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at mcndukwu @ ymail.com.

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