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The issue of Waste Management has be an ongoing issue in Nigeria but came into lime light in 1988 with the disposal of toxic waste in the then Delta State (Edo state). Nigeria as the most populous country in Africa has an estimated population size of about 160 million people, a growth rate of 2.37% and generates an annual municipal waste figure of 25,000,000 tones. This policy sets to identify the probable sources of waste generation, their effects, and disposal methodology and thereafter recommend mitigation strategy for Waste Management by proffering probable solution to its management by means of:
Its Beneficial usage through the 3R's of waste management and
Development of Statutory, legal and legislative regulations for the management of waste.
Although there are Federal and State Ministry of Environment, Environmental Protection Agency (State and Federal), we still have problems about enforcement of the responsibilities for regulation and monitoring to ensure legal, statutory and social compliance.
The Nigerian economy is one that has experienced a number of environmental problems in it's over fifty (50) years of being an independent nation. There apparently seem to be no end in sight except a few radical changes are made to its economical and environmental policies. The waste management system in operation in Nigeria leaves a lot to be desired.
The country's current environmental issues include but are not limited to:
Oil pollution and gas flaring (which affect water, aquatic lives, air, and lead to loss of arable land),
Waste pollution (which causes air, land and water pollution),
A look at nine (9) of the major cities in Nigeria gives a fairly good idea of the disaster the country is looking at in terms of unchecked waste generation and management.
The Map below shows each of the nine (9) states with their generated annual municipal waste
One would expect that a country of such magnitude both in population size and economic importance will have structures in place to adequately combat the menace posed by waste generation and management but this is not the case as the country doesn't have a single sanitary landfill for waste disposal. It disposes waste in open landfills and dumps.
SOURCES OF WASTE GENERATION
The environment is a continuously changing one and the quantity of waste generated increases with an increase in population, people's attitudes and rapid urbanization. In providing a solution and putting in place a policy to manage waste in the Nigerian economy a clear understanding of what waste is and how it is generated is required.
What is waste?
The United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) defines waste as materials that are not prime products (that is products produced for the market) for which the generator has no further use in terms of his/her own purposes of production, transformation or consumption, and of which he/she wants to dispose.
Waste is generated from:
Residential waste: household waste and kitchen waste
Commercial waste: office waste e.g. papers
Institutional waste: papers
Municipal waste: sludge and general waste
Process waste: scraps
Agricultural waste: pesticides
Construction waste: wood, Concrete etc
Drilling: Oil spillage, gas flaring, coal, ash
Types of waste (Diagram)
EFFECTS OF IMPROPER WASTE MANAGEMENT
It is a well known fact that our environment is poorly protected and not many Nigerians know the actual scope and the ramifications of this problem.
What is Waste Management?
Waste management is the act of collection, storage and disposal of waste to prevent pollution, degradation of the environment. This ranges from ordinary household, industrial wastes even generated by factories and nuclear power plants.
Proliferation of vermin: Dirt has been known to be the breeding grounds for vermin like rodents, mosquitoes and microbes
Water pollution: This occurs mainly when ground water is contaminated from oil spillage and washed off chemicals that enter the ground. This has an adverse effect on marine life, drinking water and deforestation occurs because plants get contaminated water into their roots.
Air pollution: This occurs when waste is incinerated indiscriminately in public without the proper facilities being used and even dumped in the open. The incinerated waste especially plastic release toxins that could produce acid rain and the smoke could cause lung damage.
Land pollution: This occurs when waste is not deposited at proper disposal sites but is dumped in open landfills. This causes a blot on the landscape and a reduction in property price where such landfills are found.
Public Health Issues: The unregulated dumping of waste which gives room for microbes and insect to breed creates health issues such as: malaria (mosquitoes), typhoid (contaminated home water source) etc.
Reduction in Agricultural production: waste especially oil spillage, gas flaring, chemical contaminants reduce the quality of the soil and this in turn is noticed in the reduction of agricultural produce
Methane production: which if not treated properly causes green house effect and add to ozone depletion (unmanaged waste smells and generates the gas)
Climate change leads to an increase in the intensity and frequency of weather extremes, such as heat waves, floods, droughts and tropical cyclones. The people hardest hit by climate change and environmental degradation are those living in the most vulnerable areas such as coastal communities and Delta Regions in Nigeria. This climate change and the effects it generates lead to property damage, business interruption, forest fires and health risks.
Flooding: This occurs when waste is disposed in drainages by man or by natural occurrence (washed by rain).This could causes flooding when rain falls.
Erosion: The presence of chemical and toxic waste in the soil reduces its compatibility and causes soil wash off when rain falls.
The problem of inadequate waste disposal and management practice in Nigeria is based on a few controllable factors that are highlighted as:
Enlightenment: Nigeria's citizens lack the general awareness of world's best practices for waste disposal, management and the possible effects of non-compliance on their health.
Meager funding: The funds allocated to each state for waste management is inadequate to battle the issues of environmental waste. States like Lagos have only 5-7% of the states allocation to battle waste management.
Obsolete technology and inadequate equipment: The people who have been given the job of waste disposal and management do not have the equipments and technology to do the job.
Inexperience of staff: The staff who have been allocated to manage waste disposal and management do not have the technical knowhow to go about doing the job.
Incomplete policy to combat improper waste disposal: The policies on ground have not been improved to meet the changing population size, urbanization and world's best practice.
Sanitary Landfills: Nigeria as a country doesn't have a single sanitary landfill to its name. It uses open landfills and dumpsites for its waste disposal which is not hygienic and environmentally friendly.
Traffic: This situation is more prominent in urban cities where the distance between the point of collection of waste and the disposal point could take a whole day to cover because of traffic congestion
Legislature implementation: Nigeria has the uniqueness of making laws without having the legal presence to implement them and has cascaded to the waste management sector.
Government Legislation: In situations where there are environmental laws in place, the fines attributed to breaking the laws are not a fair representation of the offence committed.eg Environmental Sanitation Edict NO:12.1985 stipulated a fine of two (200 ) naira or two( 2) months in prison for going out on sanitation days.
GOVERNMENTS EFFORT SO FAR
It is accepted that the Nigerian government has put in place several environmental bodies to curb the increasing environmental issues caused by waste generation.
Such bodies include:
Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) was established on 30th December, 1988 by the Federal Government to secure a quality environment for Nigerians.
National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) was established in 1999 to enforce environmental laws. It was established as a subset of FEPA.
Each state in Nigeria has its own Environmental Protection Agency e.g.
Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA)
State Ministry of Environment
National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA)
ADVISED SOLUTIONS (RECOMMENDATIONS)
GOVERNMENT TECHNICAL SOLUTION.
The technical solutions recommended for government approval are:
Prevention of waste
This technique will include practices like: increasing the shelf life of a product (increasing product warranty) by citizens in their everyday life.
Waste Generation Reduction.
The key to achieving waste generation reduction is for the government to create awareness. Educate people on the effects of waste generation on the economy, the environment and themselves and to advise them on waste generation reduction techniques of shopping. This technique says that:
People should only purchase what they need (necessities and essentials)
People should purchase reusable products and goods
People should buy products with little packaging
People should buy recyclable products
The government should set up waste compositing sites at strategic parts of the country. Compositing involves the use of anaerobic bacteria at high temperature and in the presence of Oxygen to digest and breakdown biodegradable waste into different components that are harmless to the environment and the end product can be used as fertilizers by farmers.
The Nigerian government has no recycling department or unit in its environmental agency and also has no recycling plant. The key to recycling is in educating people on the different classes of waste and the different means of disposal and separation. The process of recycling involves the reprocessing of waste to produce a different or new product. This process should involved both the government and the people
With the reduction of the water content in generated waste, incineration can be carried out in an enclosed space under certain conditions to generate heat and energy that can be used to generate electricity. The government should look at this option as another means for energy generation as with the population size in the country the waste generated will be put to better use. This can only be achieved if citizens develop the practice of classifying waste into: general waste, recyclable waste and reusable waste.
Nigeria as a country doesn't have a single sanitary landfill. A sanitary landfill is usually used for the final waste that cannot be reused, recycled or composited. The ground is dug and lined to prevent the contamination of ground water and the waste is packed and lined then covered with dirt to reduce its smell and to stop animals from digging it up. The sanitary landfill site should be located far from residential areas. The government should look at building a few sanitary landfills in key areas in the country
GOVERNMENT GENERAL SOLUTION:
Set up awareness campaign to educate people on the world's waste disposal and management best practices
Provide technical knowhow and training programmers' to environmental waste management agency employees
Companies and the type of waste they generate should be registered with the government so as to enable the government put facilities on ground to dispose and manage the waste.
Different types of waste should have different disposable sites.
The disposal and management responsibility of waste should be cascaded down.
The government should get private investors who will assist them in managing the generated waste
Encourage the generation of a professional body for waste disposal and management
Ensure that there is accountability for any waste disposal issue that might arise in the country.
Ensure waste policy's are implemented
Ensure that physical, informative and financial facilities are put on ground to adequately combat environmental waste disposal and management.
Creation of an adequate legal frame work to try offenders of waste management laws will go a long way in.
Finance research into waste reduction and waste utilization technique
ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF RECOMMENDATIONS
Methane: The methane generated from fermentation if managed properly can be used as cooking fuel.
This the government can add as another source of cooking fuel instead of kerosene and firewood
Incineration: Heat and Energy generated through this process will be used in electricity generation which in turn reduces our reliance on hydrolic electricity generation
Compositing: This is a source of fertilizer to farmers that is environmental friendly
Agriculture: The improvement in soil quality will lead to a corresponding increase in agricultural produce which if exported is a source of foreign currency.
Reduces erosion: The increase in comportment of the soil will reduces the probability of erosion occurring with rainfall
Good ground water and aquatic life survival: This will provide clean water for human consumption and plant growth
Healthy populace: With the advent of a sustainable environment the country's population will be healthy and free of waste and water borne diseases.