Nigeria’s waste disposal challenges: The case of Lagos.

The world is drowning in ever-growing mounds of garbage by Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, Nov. 21, 2017

Below are the highlights of the Washington Post article on “The world is drowning in ever-growing mounds of garbage” with focus on Lagos Nigeria by DEPO ADENLE.

  • Lagos population was 7 million in 1992 and has tripled.
  • Waste disposal site location was based on remoteness  from population. This is the practice in Nigeria.
  • The first waste disposal site discussed in this article is Olusosun which is directly off the main highway near the overhead bridge exit to Ikorodu, and from which a whiff of burning trash sometimes blows across the city’s standing traffic jams. This blogger experienced the usual burning sensation in this area as you enter Lagos in those days.
  • In 2017, Lagos had two outbreaks of Lassa fever, a sometimes deadly virus, spread by rodent urine or feces that has been linked to poor sanitation. The Lassa fever outbreak in Lagos is more as result of people living in shacks built around this garbage disposal site. The outbreaks of Lassa fever in other parts of Nigeria were in areas that are remote from waste disposal sites but characterized by high population density and very poor sanitation and hygiene.
  • Landfill/waste disposal sites are usually not chosen on the basis of Environmental Impact Assessment. The story of Bariga in the Washington Post article being discussed gives an insight into how waste disposal sites are chosen – not on the basis of planning but convenience. The case of Bariga is also discussed.
  • With the city’s population surging, some of the city’s coastal slums had run out of usable land and started filling in swampy areas with rubbish. Residents of one community, Bariga, agreed a few years ago to allow garbage collectors to use their neighborhood as a dumpsite. They took the trash and extended their property into the bay, covering it with sawdust and building homes on top. Walking on Bariga’s reclaimed land feels like balancing on a trampoline, the ground sinking slightly beneath your feet with each step”.
  • While one cannot fault the author of this article it is doubtful if any Nigerian will build houses on refuse dumps. They may build shacks which are made up of wooden poles and plastic sheets or any other material that can shield them from the environment.
  • A documentary produced by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in Nigeria highlights how high rentals and poverty in Lagos, one of the fastest growing cities on the continent, have driven thousands of residents to build shacks at “Dustbin Estate,” a slum in Awodiora, Ajeromi Ifelodun, to the west of Lagos. (Lagos slum residents live among garbage at “Dustbin Estate” – UrbanAfrica.Net, April 2013.  https://www.urbanafrica.net/news/lagos-slum-residents-live-among-garbage-dustbin-estate-0/).
  • The author of the article noted that Lagos has reacted to its waste challenges by treating it as opportunity and has built a local/international garbage economy—“Across the city, local entrepreneurs and international businesses have opened sorting and recycling plants that export plastics, metals and paper to China and India”.
  • But recently the government has come up with a new plan.
  • It has identified a new dump site in the city of Badagry, 40 miles from Olusosun. It would be a world away, hidden from the growing city, at least in the short term.
  • “It won’t be another eyesore,” promised Adejare, the environment min
  • One issue that was not addressed in the report is the probable impact of waste disposal in landfills that are not scientifically constructed on groundwater quality.

The link to the full article is –

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/the-world-is-drowning-in-ever-growing-mounds-of-garbage/2017/11/21/cf22e4bd-17a4-473c-89f8-873d48f968cd_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-high_lagos-globalwaste%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.622c9e808fbf

By DEPO ADENLE.

 

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