Sokoto State’s plan to commercialize the disposal of waste in the State was made public by the State’s Commissioner for Environment with the Leadership Newspaper [Link below]. The plan has several commendable proposals and planned activities for ensuring that the people of the State enjoy a clean environment and good sanitation. The interviewee’s response focused on waste recycling, flood management and unwholesome hygiene practices (indiscriminate open defecation).
The State’s initiative concerning waste recycling targets the recycling of the ubiquitous polythene bags, which has become a nuisance in urban and rural settlements. This is a step in the right direction. The magnitude of the polythene bag menace can be appreciated especially after a heavy downpour in all our cities and rural communities when the streets are covered by heaps of polythene bags and drainage channels are clogged.
The unsightly scenery caused by discarded polythene bags that are blown all over the place during the dry season is undesirable as polythene bags hang over barbed-wire fences, telecommunication poles, etc.
The strategy being used by Sokoto Ministry of Environment in combating the menace of discarded polythene bags involves using unemployed youths, building recycling plants and partnering with the Federal Government of Nigeria. This strategy ought to be replicated in states where there are no systems in place to address the challenges of disposing used polythene bags.
Another environmental challenge being handled by the Ministry of Environment in Sokoto is flood. As described by the Commissioner, the State is working with all stakeholders – the communities and Sokoto Rima Basin Development Authority (SRBDA) – in finding solutions to recurrent flood disasters in the State. It is planned to have collaborative efforts, at mitigating flood impacts, between SRBDA and the State. The interviewee proposes to have some form of flood alert system. It also plans to intensify the state’s efforts on sensitizing the communities that live downstream of the major dams in the State. It intends to appeal to the RBDA to consider proper management of dam releases. This is essential for all owners of major dams in the country.
The efforts of Sokoto State Government concerning stopping open defecation require a strategy that goes beyond mere provision of mobile toilets and enactment of Sanitation Law. One of the key methods of tackling this problem is triggering Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in every part of the State. CLTS is already alive in Sokoto State. I was reliably informed that UNILEVER is already supporting CLTS in Kangiwa LGA. The commissioner may not have been briefed about this before he gave the interview below.
Here is the link to the Leadership interview: