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Approaches to ensuring a litter free Nigeria

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By Usman Oladimeji

Throwing garbage on the ground is a common practice for many individuals.

As more and more wastes are being irresponsibly dumped where they don’t belong, littering has turnout to be a major issue in Nigeria. This detrimental practice of environmental Pollution has far-reaching consequences on ecosystems, Public Health, natural resources, and overall aesthetics. It also creates ideal conditions for pests and diseases to thrive, ultimately endangering human lives. A recent report from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) revealed that Nigeria produces more than 32 million tons of Solid Waste every year, with food waste, plastic, paper, textiles, wood, leather, rubber, metal, glass, and other materials making up 43.43% of the total waste.

Many Nigerians have become accustomed to throwing garbage on the ground, tossing items from inside vehicles, or dumping waste in unauthorized locations is a common practice for many individuals. This behaviour is not merely a result of laziness or lack of waste bins, but rather stems from societal influences, lack of awareness, and occasionally a desire to defy rules. Littering in Nigeria extends from marketplaces and parks to corporate environments. Social norms have reinforced the idea that discarding trash on the ground is acceptable, leading to a cycle where individuals are influenced by the actions of those around them.

Lack of awareness and indifference worsens the problem.

This illegal practice of polluting the environment is an issue that the majority is not aware of its consequences. The waste left behind can lead to pollution, blockage of Waterways, unsightly landscapes, and damage to communities. Lack of awareness and indifference only worsens the problem, despite ongoing government initiatives to address Waste Management. Some individuals litter as a way to defy authority or engage in destructive behaviour. Lack of strict enforcement in certain areas allows people to continue engaging in the behaviour without fear of repercussions,

The effects of littering reach across various areas including the environment, people, animals, resources, and ecosystems. Waste can bring dangers that greatly affect human well-being. One example is that piled up trash attracts pests and harmful organisms, causing the transmission of illnesses like Malaria, Lassa Fever, Cholera, and typhoid. Additionally, there are risks of harm from sharp items or dangerous substances, along with water contamination. The presence of litter in streets, parks, beaches, and public spaces creates an unattractive environment that may discourage tourists, residents, and guests, which can affect the nation’s Economy.

A clean Nigeria will lead to sustainability of the environment.

Managing waste and litter removal significantly burdens the financial resources of cities, drawing away funds that could be allocated to essential services. Meanwhile, having a clean surroundings boosts a community’s reputation and encourages residents to take pride in their environment. Envision Nigeria with spotless parks, immaculate gutters, and trash-free streets in every neighbourhood. A clean Nigeria will lead to a more visually appealing country and improve public health, Sustainability of the environment, and Economic Development. However, collaboration among all involved parties is vital in achieving this goal.

Government must prioritize enhancing waste collection methods and adopting advanced waste management technologies. Additionally, existing waste management regulations should be enforced more rigorously and impose harsher penalties for littering to discourage such actions. Businesses also have a role to play in keeping Nigeria clean by embracing sustainable packaging strategies, advocating for Recycling and waste reduction programs, and backing community clean-up campaigns. It is also important to incorporate environmental Education into all levels of schooling, starting from elementary school and continuing through Higher Education.

Related Article: Expert advocates for proper waste management

It is important for schools to host clean-up events, support sustainable practices, and teach students about their role in protecting the environment. involving community groups, volunteers, and the media in waste management efforts can further spread the message and make a greater impact. Governments at all levels need to do their part by increasing awareness about environmental pollution and the laws and policies in place to regulate it. Creating such awareness would help local communities recognize that our environment, including beaches and lagoons, is part of their heritage and must be safeguarded.


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