EVALUATING THE PROBLEMS OF SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT IN NIGERIA
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Solid wastes comprise all the wastes arising from human and animal activities that are normally solid, discarded as useless or unwanted. Also included are by- products of process lines or materials that may be required by law to be disposed of (Okecha 2000). Solid waste can be classified in a number of ways, on the basis of sources, environmental risks, utility and physical property. On the basis of source, solid wastes are again classified as: Municipal Solid Wastes, Industrial Solid Wastes and Agricultural Solid Wastes. Nigeria’s major urban centres are today fighting to clear mounting heaps of solid waste from their environments. These strategic centres of beauty, peace and security are being overtaken by the messy nature of over flowing dumps unattended heaps of solid wastes emanating from household or domestic or kitchen sources, markets, shopping and business centres. City officials appear unable to combat unlawful and haphazard dumping of hazardous commercial and industrial wastes which are a clear violation of the clean Air and Health Edicts in our environmental sanitation laws, rules and regulation.
Refuse generation and its likely effects on the health, quality of environment and the urban landscape have become burning national issues in Nigeria today. All stakeholders concern with the safety and the beautification of our environment have come to realize the negative consequences of uncleared solid human wastes
found in residential neighbourhoods, markets, schools, and central business districts in our cities. These solid wastes have become recurring features in our urban environment. It is no longer in doubt that Nigerian cities are inundated with the challenges of uncleared solid wastes. As a result, urban residents are often confronted with the hazardous impact to their collective health and safety.
A United Nations Report (August 2004) noted with regret that while developing countries are improving access to clean drinking water they are falling behind on sanitation goals. At one of its summit in 2000 (Uwaegbelun 2004) revealed that The World Health Organization-(WHO 2004) and United Nations International Children Education Fund- (UNICEF 2004) joint report in August 2004 that: “about 2.4 billion people will likely face the risk of needless disease and death by the target of 2015 because of bad sanitation”. The report also noted that bad sanitation – decaying or non-existent sewage system and toilets- fuels the spread of diseases like cholera and basic illness like diarrhea, which kills a child every 21 seconds.
The hardest hit by bad sanitation is rural poor and residents of slum areas in fast-growing cities, mostly in Africa and Asia. In 1992, the “Earth Summit” succeeded in alerting the conscience of the world to the urgency of achieving environmentally sustainable development. The Summit asserted that if we know enough to act today, then we must also find answers to many tough conceptual and technical questions that have remained unsolved over time. It affirms that rapid urbanization in developing world if ignored can be a threat to health, the environment and urban productivity.
Cities are the engines of economic growth, but the environmental implications of such growth need to be assessed and managed better. The critical and most immediate problems facing developing countries and their cities are the health impact of urban pollution that are derived from inadequate water services, poor urban and industrial waste management, as well as air pollution, especially from particulates which constitutes part of solid waste.
Among the pressing environmental and public health issues in Nigeria today is the problem of solid waste generation and disposal. The problem of solid waste management is a historical one because man’s existence is inextricably linked to the generation of waste. The problem is becoming intractable as many cities in developing countries cannot keep pace with urbanization, pollution, and the increasingly concomitant generation of garbage due to changing life styles and consumption patterns.
The mountainous heaps of solid wastes that deface Nigerian cities and the continuous discharge of industrial contaminants into streams and rivers without treatment motivated the federal government of Nigeria to promulgate Decree 58 for the establishment of Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) on 30 December 1988 (Federal Military Government 1988).
A national policy on the environment was formed and the goals of the policy include: to secure for all Nigerians a quality of environment adequate for their health and well being; to raise public awareness and promote understanding of the essential linkages between the environment and development; and to encourage individual and community participation in environmental protection and improvement efforts (FEPA 1989). As regards the solid waste sector, the specific actions desired include collection and disposal of solid waste in an environmentally safe manner; setting up and enforcement of laws, regulations, and standards; encouragement of public participation; environment monitoring and imposition of penalties on defaulters to encourage compliance (FEPA 1989; FRN 1991).
In spite of the formulation of FEPA and a national environmental policy, the environment has not been adequately protected. Interest is mainly on aesthetics, which is rarely achieved (Agunwanba 1998). Wastes collection is irregular and restricted to the major cities. Improperly sited open dumps deface several cities, thereby endangering public health by encouraging the spread of odors and diseases, uncontrolled recycling of contaminated goods and pollution of water sources (Adegoke 1989, Singh 1998).
Sadly, there seems a resignation to the unremitting solid wastes build up by the relevant authorities, where such bodies exist at all. However, in reactions to the inescapable environmental impact of delay in solid wastes removal, the federal government for example, introduced the monthly environmental sanitation in the early seventies. There from the States and Local Governments were expected to take a cue and evolve their own solid wastes management (SWM) strategies based on the peculiarities of their environment.
Each state had in the process of mitigating urban solid wastes, set up Wastes Management Boards (WMB) in attempts to tackle the occurrence of wastes and their hazards to society as a whole. While the unhealthy aspects of abandoned solid wastes can be contained, the more avoidable features of blocked drains, traffic impedance and floods have yet to be fully tackled.
One resonant feature common in the wastes build-up and emanating environmental degradation scenarios is the high cost or capital intensive nature of its amelioration as well as tackling the solid wastes menace. It requires a lot of financial and human capital to minimize and attempt to eradicate the adverse effects of exposed and untreated solid wastes in our urban centres.
It is expected that government would in due course arrive at the means to combat solid wastes and reduce their negative impact on area residents and the perception of our cities as being dirty, chaotic, and full of traces of rotting or fermenting garbage that emit odours harmful to the human body. Obviously, the timely removal of accumulated solid wastes require much more than our governments at all levels are presently engaged in. Further plans, policies and programs would need to be put on a more permanent basis in order to combat the dastardly effects of environmental degradation. Understandably, it would require effective mobilization of resources such as involving all stakeholders in regular counter measure to suppress uncontrolled solid wastes generation and irregular disposal outside city confines altogether.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
As a result of increased urbanization and infrequent environmental sanitation exercises, urban residents dump solid wastes carelessly or haphazardly – anywhere they deem fit. Such controversial tendencies and attributes would seem incomprehensible; if we desire to live in beauteous environments. Some of the lagoon front in the country has been turned into a dump for human and all sorts of solid waste. Trucks fully loaded with feces queue up in large numbers to discharge the contents into the lagoon (Njoku 2006). Environmental experts are of the view that the implication of this practice is very grave. The failure of relevant agencies to stem the tide of reckless waste dumping and littering of Nigerian cities’ infrastructure (streets and roads) and surrounding bushes indicate a clear pattern of non-enforcement or non-implementation of existing environmental sanitation laws.
Irregular and unplanned dumping of solid wastes, especially at night, which are often in gross violation of relevant rules and regulations continue to hinder plan preparations and effective land use delineation which were expected to usher in a beautiful, clean and orderly environment. Consequently, there remains a huge gap between policy formulation, execution and implementation which exacerbate the problem of solid waste management in Nigerian cities which necessitate the need to evaluate the problems of solid waste management in Nigeria by the researcher.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The following are the objective of this study:
1. To evaluate the problems of solid waste management in Nigeria.
2. To examine the consequences of poor solid waste management in Nigeria.
3. To identify the strategies than has been adopted in solid waste management in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What are the problems of solid waste management in Nigeria?
2. What are the consequences of poor solid waste management in Nigeria?
3. What are the strategies than has been adopted in solid waste management in Nigeria?
HO: Solid waste management has not been effective in Nigeria.
HA: Solid waste management has been effective in Nigeria.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are the significance of this study:
1. This study will educate the general public, stakeholders in environmental management, students, government and policy makers on the problems of solid waste management focusing on Nigeria with a view of identifying management strategies to combat the menace associated with poor solid waste management.
2. This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.
1.7 SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study on the evaluation of problems of solid waste management in Nigeria will cover all issues related to solid waste management system in Nigeria. It will cover the attitude of Nigerians to solid waste management, policies and regulatory framework.
LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Solid waste: means any garbage, refuse, sludge from a wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility and other discarded materials including solid, liquid, semi-solid, or contained gaseous material, resulting from industrial, commercial, mining and agricultural operations
Pollution: the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance which has harmful or poisonous effects.
Environment: the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates.
Management: the process of dealing with or controlling things or people.
Adegoke OS 1989. Waste Management within the Context of Sustainable Development. Proceedings of the Environment and Sustainable Development in Nigeria Workshop, 25 – 26 April, Abuja Nigeria, pp. 103 – 110.
Agunwamba 1998. Solid waste management in Nigeria problems and issues. Environmental Management, 22(6): 849 – 856.
Federal Military Government 1988. Federal Environmental Protection Agency Decree No. 58: A 911 – A 932.
FEPA 1998 (Federal Environmental Protection Agency). 1989. National Policy on the Environment. Nigeria: FEPA, P. 22.
FRN (Federal Republic of Nigeria) 1991. Official Gazette 78 (42): B15 – B37.
Njoku Jude 2006. Iddo: Where human waste is dumped with impunity. Vanguard, Monday, September 18, 2006, P. 42.
Okecha SA 2000. Pollution and Conservation of Nigeria Environment. T Afrique International Associates Owerri Nigeria
Singh SK 1998. Solid waste management: An overview of environmental pollution. Environmental Control Journal, I(3): 50-56.
Uwaegbulam Chinedu 2004. World is meeting goals of safe drinking water but falling behind on sanitation, says UN. The Guardian, Monday, August 30, 2004. P. 50.