Educating communities on negative impacts of improper waste disposal
In recent times across Nigeria, waste disposal/ management has become an issue plaguing states of the federation. The issue is being made worse by the protracted rainfall.
However, the advantages of living in a healthy environment cannot be underestimated. In health-centred discussions, most people focus on their personal well-being. They talk in relation to not having suffered any illnesses, how they wear clean clothes, eat good food among others. Of a truth, those things matter, but keeping a good hygiene regimen in an unhealthy environment is tantamount to living unhealthy.
The benefits of a clean environment were what the staff and management of Swiss Pharma Nigeria Limited, a pharmaceutical company in Nigeria, recently demonstrated with a clean-up and education campaign on the adverse effects of improper waste disposal.
It was followed by a full-day activation that involved rewarding all the collectors with food items then allocating 10 dustbins to selected bin posts, this was done in collaboration with the Baale of the community, high chief S.A.S Afogunlowo. The hosts will continue to receive monthly allowances for their role as collectors and for providing recyclable materials.
The environmental challenge, which led to the clean-up campaign had been lingering for almost three years following a heavy rainfall that occurred on May 9, 2019, and left the premises of Swipha at Dopemu Road, Lagos, severely flooded. It was so devastating, they had to shut down operations for hours out of fear of the risk of explosion and electrical hazards because of the unending overflow of water, which extended into the utility building.
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Hours later, the cause of the flood was traced to the heaps of refuse that have blocked the mesh inside the drainages. As a corporate organisation with strong ties to the neighbourhood, a meeting was held with the community leaders on the need to fix the damaged mesh, which was because of refuse being dumped in the drainage.
The unfortunate event prompted the organisation to reach out to the Ministry of Environment, and on May 19, 2021, an acknowledgement letter was received stating the government’s desire to reconstruct the drainage as well as address the issue of indiscriminate waste disposal.
The reconstruction project lasted for six months from January to July 2022. However, in that time, the aspect of indiscriminate waste disposal in the drainage was not addressed. This led to the appointment of Recycle Points Limited, a waste recycling and social benefit venture, by Swipha Nigeria Limited, to lead the clean-up and education campaign in April 2022.
According to Frederic Lieutaud, the managing director of Swipha, “As a pharmaceutical company which prides itself on the well-being of people and the environment, we took it upon ourselves to encourage a cleaner environment for all by appointing Recycle Points Limited to handle the execution of the project.” He stated further, “This, we have done in our efforts to sustain the good relationship we have built over the years.”
Responding after accepting the appointment, Taiwo Adewole, the managing director of Recycle Points, stated, “It is a thing of pride for us that we were appointed to lead the Clean-Up Campaign, which allowed us to educate the community on the adverse effects of improper waste disposal which include flooding, stagnant water, illnesses, as well as the benefits of recycling beyond revenue generation.”
The impressive developments have seen positive changes in the community with the drainage now flowing freely and clean as the people have stopped dumping refuse in it and regularly evacuate it during the weekly sanitation days.
These wastes have also become a means of income for the members of the community with the monthly collection of recyclable materials from the bin hosts. Each item collected is weighed based on the classification and the values presented either as cash or a list of food or household items available.
The beauty of this project is that with the DORI® Bins, all bin hosts will continue to receive monthly allowances for their role as hosts and for collecting recyclable materials along with other individuals. It is hoped that this awareness remains with the community for years to come as we see mothers already involving their children in the exercise.
Aliu, a social commentator, writes from Lagos