Governments at all levels in Nigeria, have been urged on the need for them to partner more private stakeholders in the environment sector as well as relevant Non-governmental Organisations, NGOs, to accelerate public sensitisation on proper waste management practices and also build people’s capacity to become waste to wealth artisans.
Representatives of some environmental NGOs, Teachers and Community leaders made the call at a capacity building workshop for teachers in Mushin, Lagos State on recycling and Environmental sustainability, with
theme: Waste to Wealth.
They said if adopted, the partnership would help to create and sustain sound waste management culture across the country including finding lasting solution to the menace of plastic wastes.
The workshop is a continuation of capacity building programme for teachers and community members towards the realisation of the “Clean Our World” project aimed at ensuring sustainable sanitation in selected communities and schools in Lagos State.
‘Clean Our World’ project is an initiative by a number of environmental organisations.
Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) is the implementing partner.
In a remark, the Head Environmental Education at NCF, Mrs. Abidemi Balogun who noted that government especially in Lagos State was trying in carting away wastes, believed that with more strategic collaborations between public and private stakeholders, awareness on waste management and the huge economic potential in wastes would be more effective.
Mrs. Balogun urged the participants to make good use of the empowerment programme and to pass the skills acquired to their pupils and others within their spheres of influence.
She said, ”Today is the second phase of the Clean Our World project, to change the attitude of community people towards their wastes.
“Governments are doing their bit in carting away the wastes. We need to empower more people, through sensitization to know the need for proper management of wastes to preserve their health. If you dispose your wastes indiscriminately, you will suffer for it. It will cause flooding, contaminate the environment and negatively affect your health.
“The government can partner with relevant stakeholders to continue to carry out this kind of activities, sensitization, empowerment and building their skills. If they have the right skills, they will be able to safely manage their wastes”, she said.
The programme was held at Olisa and Methodist Primary Schools Papa ,Mushin.
Explaining the concept of the capacity building workshop, one of the facilitators, Mr. Austin Adekoya who is the Executive Director, Plastic Evolution Initiative, said the long term goal is for Nigeria to align with the global mandate to phase out plastics by trying to reduce, reuse and recycle used plastic bags, popularly known as nylon bags.
Mr. Adekoya also urged beneficiaries to endeavour to step down the training to their pupils, colleagues, families and friends, hoping that if taken serious, the skill would be a good source of revenue for them, in addition to efficiently managing their wastes.
He explained that they were thought how to weave plastic bags into useful household items like table clothes, hand bags, pillows and indeed anything one can imagine.
In his words, ” In our various houses, we find nylon bags at different corners which have been used and dumped. Anytime we go out, we are always asking for nylon bags. But what do we do with them? We end up thrashing them around and littering the environment with it, which is not safe for the animals, neither is it safe for humans and to the farmers. So, our goal is to see how we can get them out and recycle them, we use them, reuse them and change our attitude towards our environment for better.
“This teaching is actually being encouraged by the Oando Foundation, Sumitomo Chemicals and NCF, teeming up with Plastic Evolution Initiative. Plastic Evolution Initiative is an NGO. Our sole aim is to get the environment clean and safe, devoid of plastics, what we call nylon here in Nigeria. What we are actually trying to promote and encourage is that , people will reduce the use of nylon bags, recycle the used ones.
“They should get these used nylon bags from their various homes, bring them out and use them to do creative things like bags, pillows and anything you can imagine.
“The training today is one of the basics, the foundation stage, teaching them how to project and how to start off. From here they can build on it.
“It is an empowerment project. They are thought how to do projecting, like bags, table clothes, pillows. Those things can be sold. One of the handbags was made from 25 nylon bags and it cannot be sold for anything less than N1,500.00. And the children are using them for decorations in their schools. You can also be a teacher of it, teaching others and getting paid for it.
“Most of the Western Worlds now discourage the use of plastics. If you want plastic, you pay; just a way of discouraging people. So, all over the World, they are discouraging the use of nylon bags. That is what we are trying do as well. The World generally is trying to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic bags.
A representative of the community, Chief Akanbi Komolafe said his people were most grateful to Oando Foundation, NCF and others that are behind the project.
Admitting that they were better equipped to manage their wastes and generating wealth from them, Chief Komolafe called on government to do more in creating awareness on waste to wealth programmes so that more Nigerians would be aware of the opportunities in wastes.
“I am happy. They are giving us good knowledge; not only to eradicate our wastes but also to make money from them. Government needs to come in and carry out public orientation on waste to wealth, so that many people will hear about it”.
One of beneficiaries, Mr. Saka Lookman Olatunji, a teacher in Olisa Primary School, Mushin noted that both the first and second phases of the project were very helpful in creating wealth.
He said, ” I learnt alot. In the first phase, I learnt how to use pet bottles to make a lot of marketable household items. From knowledge gotten from the second phase of the project, I will be able to transform nylon bags into many useful things like pillows, hands bags and others.
“Generally, the knowledge will help me to eradicate wastes and also generate income from wastes.
I plan to pass the knowledge to others. I will use local language to properly pass the knowledge to others including my community people”, he added.
Participants demonstrated great commitment in learning throughout the training session.
A good number of them were able to craft something meaningful at the end of the day.