In this report, CHIKA OKEKE writes that management of municipal waste is a huge avenue for job creation and income generation if handled with dexterity.
It was estimated that about 0.8 kilogrammes of waste is produced by each person around the world daily. This is even as the amount of total waste generated is expected to triple to 5.9 billion tons annually by 2025 due to increased consumption and ineffective management strategies.
Regrettably, waste management is a serious problem affecting the population today. Findings by LEADERSHIP revealed that greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions from solid waste accounts for about three percent of the global total emission.
This is why the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement and the New Urban Agenda addressed key issues associated with solid waste management. Irrespective of this, developing countries are challenged with adequate waste management system due to lack of financing, poor awareness and poor governance systems.
Despite the pitfalls, effective management of municipal waste could guarantee massive job opportunities and wealth creation, thereby leading to increased revenue. This would be achieved with the enactment of policies on waste management and implemented through Public Private Partnership (PPP), according to stakeholders.
Chief executive officer of Globatech Remedial limited, Mr Oladimeji Oresanya disclosed that Nigeria needed about N625 billion annually to move 35 million tons of wastes generated in the country. Oresanya said that with the right policies and private sector participation that Nigeria could unlock the potentials in waste management, harping on the need to create huge jobs through waste management.
He called for the introduction of private sector participation model of waste collection as well as the adoption and sustainability of models that would include coat recovery and reduced operating cost.
Oresanya said that it is unfortunate that Abuja spends millions of naira on contractors for waste management, adding that Abuja could be self-sustained. He emphasized that Nigeria generated 1.1 million tonnes of e-waste in 2010 being the leading importer of Electrical and Electronics Equipment (EEE) in Africa, just as he pegged food waste at about 3.4 million tonnes per annum.
The CEO pleaded with government at all levels to develop human capital through skills acquisition in order to address services value chain in waste management, just as he tasked them on the implementation of existing laws on solid waste management and global treaties. He recommended the development of economic model around social entrepreneurship with government sovereign potentials used as support for business development in the sector.
The UN under secretary-general of UN-Habitat, Ms Maimunah Mohd Sharif hinted that the total waste generated in the world is enormous, adding that though some are recycled, that the discarded waste are causing health problems for people and their animals and polluting the environment.
She pointed out that the amount of waste produced by individuals, communities, businesses, institutions, markets and factories continued to grow tremendously. Sharif who was represented by UN resident coordinator, Mr. Jean Bakole asserted that tackling waste management challenges required imagination and innovation.
She noted that during her tenure as Mayor of the State Penag, Malaysia that she introduced an idea of rethinking waste management through 3Rs of reducing, reusing and recycling.
The UN under secretary-general enjoined Nigerians to adjust their consumption style by using alternatives to disposable plastic items such as bottles, cups, plates and cutlery even as she sought for a conscious effort to recycling waste items instead of disposing them.
She maintained that UN- habitat is scaling up its role in supporting cities to improve their waste management practice, to lead in designing cost effective and efficient systems for proper disposal of waste.
Sharif who is also the executive director of UN-Habitat stated that developing a market for innovative and attractive products made from waste materials could help to integrate the informal waste sector in the economy. She assured that UN-habitat would continue to dialogue on solid waste management with cities, industries and the private sector.
Sharif hinted that the UN body would explore how to work with other UN agencies in creating a joint platform on urban waste management to better inform governments through policy dialogue and focused technical assistance.
The UN under secretary-general harped on the need to publicly recognise cities that improved their solid waste management and reduced their expenditure on waste management as ‘Waste-Wise-Cities’.
The national assembly has called for the review of existing laws and policies on waste management. The chairman, senate committee on housing and urban development, Senator Barnabas Gemade revealed that Nigeria has been in a fix on how to manage municipal solid waste across the country.
He promised to prevail on the national assembly to enact adequate legislation in all levels of governance to ensure that all policies adopted for municipal waste management are properly covered by law. Gemade noted that poor waste management leads to poor environmental sanitation and poverty.
In the same vein, the minister of state II, ministry of power, works & housing, Surv. Suleiman Hassan Zarma asserted that peoples’ lifestyles and consumption patterns could greatly reduce waste. He quoted a British Economist, Sir Josiah Stamp as saying that, ‘It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging those responsibilities’.
He appealed to urban dwellers to adopt more environmental friendly habits of taking active roles in environmental education, reverse the use of polythene, plastics to natural life and avoid exposing the environment to disasters.
The minister of state I, ministry of power, works & housing, Hon Mustapha Baba Shehuri disclosed that tackling municipal solid waste is a common challenge to urban dwellers, governments and communities. This he noted has created a great toll on public funds, as well as human health due to the huge complexities surrounding the processes of generation, collection and disposal.
He decried the effects of solid waste on the health of citizens, climate and the environment, indicating the need for citizens to adopt attitudinal change towards tackling them. The minister further disclosed that municipal solid waste management is embedded within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has strong linkages impacting on various areas of the SDGs, such as living conditions, sanitation and public health.
He recalled that over the past decade, that government has funded model urban renewal and slum upgrading schemes like roads and drainage works in selected communities across the six geopolitical zones. Shehuri stated that survey findings in post project years revealed clear-cut improvements in solid waste collection and storm water flow in target communities.
He emphasised that attitudinal change is a prerequisite for waste management even as he enjoined Nigerians to adopt a more sensitive lifestyle, bearing in mind that urban society is vulnerable to natural and other disasters. The minister pegged the estimated economic damage arising from natural disasters within the past ten years at $100 billion annually adding that the figures would keep increasing without conscious effort to make cities more resilient.
He stated that apart from the immediate immeasurable impacts on the economy, that there are many subterranean effects at socio-cultural and community levels that needed continuous readjustment for years.
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