Environment Impact Assessment of Solid Waste Disposal in Awka Anambra State
1.1 Background to the Study
Human environment needs to be kept clean. The 7th goal of the Millennium Development is to ensure clean environmental sustainability. The pursuit of environmental sustainability is an essential part of human well-being as identified by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP, 2004). However, waste generation is an inevitable phenomenon so long as man is in existence. The condition and rate of waste generation in the developed and developing countries are quite different. Although, the developed countries generate more wastes than the developing ones due to extraction from the manufacturing process, they have competent government institutions and facilities to handle their wastes (Brown, 1993). The developing countries on the other hand are market-oriented. They have not acquired the needed (high) technology to enable them attain full grasp of coping with the huge challenges associated with effective waste disposal. This situation has led to great degradation of the environment resulting in several health problems (Busari & Olaleye, 2007).
The increasing rate of urbanization has caused most aspects of the environment to suffer. Urbanization largely is the aftermath of population concentration. The desire for improved conditions of life, economic growth, employment opportunities, better housing and other requirements of an improved standard of living believed to be available in cities leads to rural-urban drift and consequently urban population concentration (Aniefiok, 2004). As the level of urbanization increases, there is pressure on the existing urban services and facilities due to economic base stagnation. This manifests in urban congestion, poor sanitation, urban poverty and environmental degradation which pose challenges to urban planners and citizens as well (Okpoechi, 2007). It is noteworthy that the rapid and unplanned urban growth in Nigeria is characterized by recurring sanitation problems. Most of our Nigerian cities like Lagos, Onitsha, Kano, Ibadan, Port Harcourt and Awka are experiencing environmental deterioration due to sanitation problems (Simon, 2003).
The improper disposal of solid waste has polluted our Nigerian cities. The volume of solid wastes that are generated in most Nigerian cities has overwhelmed urban administrators’ capacity to plan for their effective collection and disposal. Waste dumping is the common practice of waste disposal in Nigeria. Uncollected heaps of solid wastes are common while disposal sites have become environmental hazards. According to George (2004), the massive solid wastes being generated in Lagos metropolis is not unconnected with the high population growth rate and propensity for consumption being experienced in the city. About 75% of the 15 million people in Lagos live in metropolitan Lagos.
Owing to the alarming rate at which toxic and hazardous wastes are being generated, the Federal Environmental Protection Decree (FEPD) was promulgated in 1988 which later gave birth to the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA). The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) developed a national policy on Environment. In 1999, a full-fledged ministry was formed to deal with environmental issues (Ifesanya, 2004). In line with this, there was formal launching of a National Sanitation Programme. The purpose being to improve the health of urban residents through environmental control and sanitation. To ensure the achievement of this objective, state governments passed environmental sanitation edicts declaring the last Saturday of every month as environmental sanitation day. With the help of the police, Environmental Task Force, Environmental Sanitation Authority Personnel still drive round the streets, impounding vehicles and various equipments used for purposes other than the exercise. Not quite long, the tempo abated and the urban residents returned to their environmentally degrading habits with cities returning to their previous conditions of great filth, stench and indecency. Expectedly, the programme lasted for few months. It could not be fully sustained.
Presently, in Awka which is the capital of Anambra state, the Anambra State Waste Management Agency (ASWAMA) engages in the collection and disposal of solid waste, yet it has not made any significant impact on the urban residents in terms of environmental cleanliness. From the observation of the researcher, wastes are often indiscriminately dumped on open plots of land, particularly along the streets in Awka. In streets where refuse containers are provided, individual households deposit waste on the ground each time the containers are filled to the brim. It is therefore not unusual to see full containers with refuse piled at the sides with rats, cats, goats, chickens scavenging on the garbage heaps. In fact, waste management in Awka has gained notoriety due to its visibility and general degradation of the environment. We often witness nauseating scene of heaps of waste in many places. A good example is the situation along UNIZIK junction areas and Ifite road which leads to Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK) campus where wastes are scattered in gutters, streets corners and roadsides.
This is one of the major challenges Anambra State Government is facing. A healthy and sustainable environment that will help to salvage this condition can be ensured if there is an adoption of preventive and remedial strategies. This will only be feasible when there is willingness and commitment from the government and the urban residents. This study therefore seeks to address the issue of ineffective solid wastes disposal and attempt to proffer solutions that could checkmate and enhance solid waste management thereby reducing indiscriminate waste disposal in Awka, Anambra state and beyond.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Some studies have been done by scholars on urban waste management. Examples of such specific studies include Falade (2003) on Third World Countries, Ukpong (2006) on Calabar City, Fasasi, Asimi & Adewale (2006) on Saki Town in Oke-Ogun Area of Oyo State, Simon, Yayeda & Alliu (2003) on Port-Harcourt. Despite the contributions of these researchers, an examination of the literature shows that most of them hardly treat exhaustively the influence of urbanization on solid waste disposal. Much of the literature tended to look at solid waste disposal in the urban centres in terms of a generalized view without an in-depth analysis on how urbanization has specifically influenced solid waste disposal. This no doubt has created some gaps in terms of attempting to provide comprehensive insight into the challenge of urban solid waste management.
As a key response to this gap, this study is an effort to concentrate on how urbanization has increased the rate of solid waste generation and the problem of its disposal. It is a fact that waste generation is a normal and inevitable consequence of human activities. It has indeed become a threat to urban environment. Mabogunje (2002) stated that urbanization is the root cause of environmental degradation and pollution.
Urbanization has increased the income level of the urban residents as well as change their consumption pattern. The urban dwellers purchase packaged food and often make use of plastic wrappings, polythene bags and containers or cartons for their commodities which give rise to the expansion of disposable materials. This is contrary to what is obtainable in the rural communities where disposal of solid wastes does not pose much problem since solid wastes are given to domestic animals or deposited in the farms for manure. In Nigeria, there is a phenomenal increase in the volume and range of solid wastes generated daily (Olawoye, Oyewole & Grayson, 2012). Waste generation constitutes a great burden to the society. Issues often frequently mentioned with regard to the environment largely are the problem of solid waste generation and disposal. Thus, there is rapid urban expansion without effective environmental consciousness, as such, in virtually every urban centre; a substantial proportion of population is at risk from environmental hazards.
It is therefore not uncommon to find streets in Nigerian urban centres being completely or partially blocked by solid wastes (Moughalu & Okoye, 2010). In the same vein, open spaces, market places are littered with solid wastes. Our Nigerian environments have been in distress as a result of poor solid waste disposal. This prevailing catastrophic level of environmental degradation resulting from improper disposal of solid wastes in Nigeria particularly Awka has created adverse impacts on health, environment and the economic life of the urban residents. It is not uncommon that the health of the urban dwellers is in jeopardy due to poor sanitation. There is high incidence of epidemics of unavoidable diseases like cholera, typhoid, diarrhea, malaria, bronchitis, asthma which often results from failure or delay in disposing wastes. The leakages and runoffs from landfills and open dumps affect adversely the quality of ground and surface waters by polluting them with salts, nitrates, and biodegradable organics (Olatoyinbo & Oni, 2006). It is observed in Nigeria including Awka that many urban centres have low water quality and this has heightened the cause of the diseases emanating from the environment. The slum dwellers are often at risk of ejection from the environment due to poor hygiene, poor waste and sewage management. The aesthetic beauty of the environment consequently is greatly distorted thus posing great risk towards the achievement of favourable living and working conditions of man. The economic or financial position of the urban dwellers also is affected in the bid to treat all the diseases emanating from unkempt environment.
In Awka, which is the study area, it is observed that there is improper disposal of solid waste. Although, the waste bins are provided in all the zones comprising Awka town, the waste bins are inadequate to meet with the teeming population. They are only seen in strategic areas of the various zones and as such, the urban residents who are not close to the locations where the disposal bins are, deposit solid wastes on any vacant land which is converted into an unofficial dumpsite. The magnitude of their action can be observed in the constant dumping of wastes in gutters beside the roads which impede the inflow of traffic due to flooding of roads during the rainy season. Roads like Zik’s Avenue, Ifite and Express road leading to Onitsha and Enugu are some examples of this unwholesome practice.
Apart from population explosion arising from urbanization, education, value system and improper disposal of solid wastes could be attributed to inefficiency of government agents handling the waste(s). The non-literate urban residents are ignorant of environmental issues. This has serious impact on environmental-related practices. It has been established that what constitutes danger to man’s environment are rampant among the illiterates (Fasaist, 2006). The practice of disposing waste in stream channels and misuse of drainage are as a result of peoples’ ignorance about the consequences of such interaction with the environment (Falade, 1999). Furthermore, the value system of the urban dwellers can adversely affect their attitude towards disposal of waste. People exhibit laissez-faire attitude towards disposal of solid waste. Wastes are indiscriminately thrown in open spaces or what we may call ‘throw-away culture’. Nobody cares about the sanitation of the environment. High premium is placed more on personal interest than what affects the generality of the people. There is that axiom that the environment is for all. Whether it is cared for or not is no man’s business. God will always take care of it. Poverty is an enemy of environmental conservation. It makes man to be blind and hardens him against any attempt to conserve the environment (Falade, 2003). In Awka, a large part of her population is below the poverty level and just like other poor urban residents, their sanitation habits are poor.
There is also the issue of inefficiency on the part of Anambra State Waste Management Agency (ASWAMA), an agency borne out from the defunct Anambra State Environmental Protection Agency (ANSEPA) charged with the collection and disposal of solid waste in Awka. As has been observed (Osuoha, 1999), the agency is saddled with poor management, little or no monitoring, inadequate fund and personnel, lack of vehicles and maintenance. Furthermore, there is no established and consistent framework that will stipulate the removal of solid wastes from each of the zones be it once a day, or once in two or three days. There is constant irregularity on the part of the agency in the collection and disposal of solid waste. The agency does not get involved in the removal of solid waste in all the institutions or establishments in Awka. The researcher observed that of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka for instance, where each faculty sees to its own disposal of solid waste. The Faculty of Social Sciences dumps its solid wastes behind the faculty building until when the volume increases and are subjected to burning.
All these deficiencies associated with solid waste disposal collection from the urban residents, government and its agencies have prompted the researcher to undertake this study. One can see that if the problems remain unresolved, the living conditions of the urban residents will be unsafe, unhealthy and uncomfortable. This no doubt will have negative impact on their productivity. In addition, there is the likelihood that their poverty status will worsen due to income expended on ill-health. In this study, the researcher undertook a detailed analysis of the environmental impact assessment on solid waste disposal on the inhabitants of Awka in Anambra State. Specifically, it also probed the consequences of the disposal of solid waste on health, environment and the economic life of the urban residents. Lastly, the study identified factors that militated against effective solid waste disposal, and then advanced recommendations that could address urban sanitation and associated problems.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The overall aim of the study is to assess the environmental impact of solid waste disposal in Awka Anambra State. Accordingly, the following objectives of the study were formulated for empirical investigation:
1. To find out the extent to which population growth influence waste disposal.
2. To identify the health implications of solid waste disposal in Awka.
3. To examine the effects of ineffective solid waste disposal in Awka on the physical environment.
4. To examine the extent to which ineffective solid waste disposal affect the economic life of the people in Awka.
5. To identify the factors which undermine effective means of solid waste disposal in Awka.
6. To make recommendations on how to ensure effective disposal of solid wastes in Awka.
1.4 Research Questions
The following were the questions examined in this study.
1. To what extent does population growth influence solid waste generation and disposal in Awka?
2. What are the health implications of solid waste disposal system for urban residents in Awka?
3. What are the effects of ineffective solid waste disposal on the physical environment of people in Awka?
4. To what extent does ineffective means of solid waste disposal affect the economic resources of the people in Awka?
5. What are the factors that undermine effective means of solid waste disposal system in Awka?
6. In view of 1 – 5 above, how can the present system of solid waste disposal be enhanced in Awka?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The global community is highly being sensitized as to the need for inhabitants to strive to make their environment clean (UNEP, 2004; Jay, Jones Slinn & Wood, 2007). In fact, since the turn of the century (2000), and the declaration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), greater emphasis is being put on the need for improved and enhanced physical environment. Although, some works may have been done to determine the extent to which the campaign has been imbibed by communities and those that live around them (Polonen, 2006). Not much of such studies have been reported in the South Eastern Zone of Nigeria and specifically in Awka (Suleman, 2007). Majority of studies have focused on the effect of erosion on the lives of the people. This study is one of those few specifically aimed at determining the effects of ineffective solid waste disposal on the inhabitants of Awka.
Added to the above, the study is capable of providing insight as to the relative efficacies of the various methods of solid waste disposal currently practised in Awka, Anambra State Nigeria. This is necessary because apart from revealing what is making the strategies not to work maximally, it will also help to proffer solutions to the challenge.
Still on theoretical cum practical value of the research, the study will help to achieve the core values of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially goals numbers 7 and 8 which address the issues of environmental sustainability and the need for partnership. Through such a study, the level of involvement of the various partners and stakeholders can be critically examined and where necessary, their roles repositioned.
Practically, the study could assist individuals to appreciate the need for improved environmental quality and as such strive to keep the environment clean or become sanitation conscious. This will invariably result in the improvement on the land, air and water quality. Since this study will create awareness on the health implications, it will reduce adverse impacts on health by creating sound and workable waste management practices. Realizing the importance of cleanliness through this study, some people will be spurred into taking care of their waste problem by making private arrangement irrespective of the help from the Environmental Sanitation Agency.
The attitude and the value system towards environmental management will be given maximum attention and controlled in an effective and efficient manner. The study will make urban residents to have appreciable concern for the environment. They will begin to imbibe conservation practices instead of treating the environment as no man’s land. Perhaps, the authorities in charge of solid waste disposal will be on their toes to implement policies that would ensure clean environment.
The study could propel the government of Anambra State and others states of the Federation to provide enough funds, vehicles, equipment, proper sanitary landfill and waste sorting facilities to the Environmental Agency. The research will help to improve the economic efficiency of the nation through effective resource use, disposal and creating markets for recycled products.
Lastly, the study will afford the Nigeria government and her agencies the necessity to adopt the most rational and operational policies that will solve the problems associated with urbanization and environmental degradation particularly solid waste disposal at both State and Federal level.
1.6 Definition of Concepts
The concepts used in this work and the context they are to be understood are set out below:
1. Disposal: For this study, disposal is conceptualized as the discharge, deposit, dumping, or placing of any solid waste or hazardous waste into any land or water so that constituent thereof may not enter the environment or be emitted into the air or discharged into any water including ground water.
2. Environment: It is a generic term embracing the physical, economic, and social circumstances which surround and affect the desirability and value of property as well as the quality of people’s lives. This study emphasizes on the physical environment or surrounding where people live or work.
3. Garbage: This refers to animal and vegetable wastes resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking and serving of foods. Garbage originates primarily in homes, kitchens, stores, markets, restaurants and other places where food is stored, prepared or served. Garbage decomposes rapidly particularly in warm weather, and may quickly produce offensive odours when carelessly stored. It is food for rats and other rodents and is a breeding place for flies.
4. Hazard: For this study, hazards are those things that pose dangers or threat to the environment.
5. Hazardous Waste: It is a broader term that embraces all wastes including the toxic ones that pose immediate or long term health risks or that endangers the environment.
6. Impact: This is the consequences both positive and negative which an activity or a set of activities has or possesses in relation to an event at any point in time.
7. Impact Assessment: This the process of determining the amount of effect, influence or consequence which an activity or set of activities has in relation to an event at any point in time.
8. Pollution: This refers to an undesirable change in physical, chemical or biological character of the air, land and water to the extent that they constitute great harm to human and non-human species (fauna and flora). Pollution is a malaise caused by man and is a threat to man, animal, plant and the entire environment.
9. Sewage: The term is used to describe used water and waste substances that are produced by human bodies usually evaluated from houses and factories through the help of special pipes known as sewer. In most urban areas, the disposal of sewage solid is the responsibility of the municipal waste disposal agency.
10. Solid waste: The term is used to describe non-liquid waste materials arising from domestic and industrial activities. Domestic solid wastes are the by-products of house-keeping activities and consumption. They include wrapping papers, leaves, polythene bags, empty cans and containers. Industrial solid wastes are generated in the course of manufacturing processes and these include metal scraps, waste papers, saw dust, pieces of glasses, toys, discarded appliances and vehicles.
11. Urbanization: The New Encyclopedia Britannica (2003) defines urbanization as the process by which large numbers of people become concentrated in a relatively small area. In this study, urbanization implies increase in the population of an area that has major centres of economic and social growth, generating new ideas and creating numerous jobs.
12. Wastes: Wastes are materials that can no more be used and are thus permanently discarded (Olatoyinbo and Oni, 2006, Ifeasanya, 2004). These wastes are by-products of normal physiological processes and human activities. They include domestic wastes, agricultural wastes, industrial wastes, mining and mineral wastes. According to Olatoyinbo & Oni (2006), most wastes affect the quality of the environment and some are capable of damaging beyond repair thereby posing serious risks to life.
13. Waste Management: This is referred to as the collection, transportation, storage, treatment and disposal of wastes including the after-care of the disposal sites, in an effort to reduce the consequences on human health, urban aesthetics and ecology (Olatoyinbo & Oni, 2006).
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