Open letter to Oyo state Commissioner of Environment and Habitat – Nkem Akinsoto

Open letter to Oyo state Commissioner of Environment and Habitat – Nkem Akinsoto

Honorable Commissioner,

Hope this missive meets you well.

We write from Strategy and Innovation for Development Initiative (SI4DEV) on behalf of our Partners and other residents of the Ibadan Metropolitan Area.

SI4DEV is an NGO registered in Nigeria to empower community leaders working towards a country where every citizen has fair access to the resources needed to achieve their full potential. SI4DEV’s Partners are innovative change-makers and we support them with leadership training, capacity building and technical support for collaborative action towards positive social change in communities.

We are writing this letter to bring to your attention the indiscriminate dumping of garbage around major roads and markets in Ibadan and how we might work together to mitigate the issue. In this letter, we reiterate some of the recommendations of the World Bank supported Ibadan Urban Flood Management Project (IUFMP), and to add to the ongoing discussions around the Solid Waste Management Master Plan for Ibadan Metropolis.

 

Ibadan remains the largest city in West Africa, with one of the oldest, most distinct outlook in Nigeria. It receives many millions of visitors from around Africa and beyond to our markets and tourist sites. It is unfortunate that in the past few years, our beloved city has picked up the moniker, “the dirtiest city in Nigeria”.

As far back as 1988, Bammeke and Sridhar in their paper, Market Wastes in Ibadan, Nigeria[1], noted the lack of an organized system for the collection, transport and hygienic disposal of the solid wastes generated by markets. They recommended either composting or other recycling opportunities for the disposal of these solid wastes which were 68% decomposable matter made of food, leaves and paper.

And who can forget the flood disaster in 2011 with the attendant loss of lives and properties? Concomitant with the flooding was a cholera outbreak, and between both, at least 120 deaths were recorded in Ibadan.

At this juncture, we do commend the Oyo State government, which has in the past few years made concerted efforts to improve waste management in the state and Ibadan in particular. In the past 3 years, Ibadan has managed to avoid any major disasters from flooding or cholera outbreaks.

The current agency, WestAfricaENRG, is a leading Environmental Solutions company whose services include materials recovery and recycling, and they have been trying their best to meet up with the huge waste generated by the massive population in Ibadan. It’s unfortunate that the Ajakanga Waste-to-Energy Project which was intended to help clean up waste and generate electricity at the same time is yet to live up to potential. Still the government is on the right track. But gaps remain. When all the Private Waste Contractors in Oyo State as at May 2017 had their contracts terminated, it was assumed that better qualified and equipped contractors will take their place. But this cannot be seen, especially in our major roads, markets and their environs.

Shortly after the Oyo State government commissioned WestAfricaENRG to manage the Oyo State Waste Management Agency (OYOWMA), we observed that almost all streets in Ibadan had waste drums, which garbage pickers pick and empty into their trucks. However, it looks like there are no receptacles for roads and markets, therefore pedestrians, traders and visitors throw their wastes by the roadside, pavements, or they stack them in bags on the road dividers.  Also, this waste is not picked up on a regular basis resulting in unsightly pile-ups along some of the major roads and markets in Ibadan.

As you can guess these garbage dumps come with a terrible smell and create unhygienic conditions by attracting various insects and pests while constituting breeding grounds for harmful bacteria and viruses. Alongside beautiful pictures of the weekly happenings in the city, The Ibadan Metro recently posted pictures of waste dumped at the entrance of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria’s premier university. We agree with them that such eyesores should not feature “in the city for a cleaner and healthier State”[2].

SI4DEV Partners in Ibadan wish to highlight and reiterate that this situation is urgent and critical as it negatively affects the environment and public health. This ineffective disposal of waste leads to potential health hazards like salmonella, cholera, diarrhea and other incidents of food poisoning due to the proximity to the food displayed openly in these markets. There is also air pollution, water and soil contamination, exacerbated flood risks and damage, and possible impact on tourism from nearby Lagos and other parts of the country. To ameliorate these effects, SI4DEV has stepped in as development partner to implement sensitization and awareness programs in Ibadan and design community education tools.

In their report titled “Private Sector Participation of Solid Waste Management Activities in Ibadan[3], the World Bank recommended several improvements and interventions across the value chain for an efficient waste management system. They found that despite private sector inclusion in waste collection for many years, the unwillingness of communities to pay for waste collection was a hindrance to full participation and called for “strategies to engage with community leaders to raise awareness of the need for paid waste removal and management services.”

However, initial outreaches indicate that communities want to see some government stakeholders’ activity dedicated to improving the waste situation. We therefore request that the Oyo State government, OYOWMA, and WestAfricaENRG all commit to do the following:

  1. Provide large waste bins at market locations to be agreed upon by the waste removal agencies and the market association leaders and enforce their use to avoid indiscriminate dumping of refuse.
  2. Develop and publicize a schedule and roster, including fixed Environmental Sanitation days, for waste removal in all major areas and markets of Ibadan in all available media including online.
  3. Make available to the public a list of all licensed organizations involved in waste management in Ibadan and their areas of operation, all recycling outfits, approved dump sites, and other related information.

As you may recognize, these recommendations echo those put forward by stakeholders at the inception report workshop on the Solid Waste Management Master Plan for Ibadan Metropolis under the World Bank sponsored IUFMP, hosted last December by The Ibadan Business School, and which your representatives attended.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this issue  as we look forward to a quick resolution.

Please feel free to contact us at your earliest convenience if you require any further details.

Signed

Nkem Akinsoto

Executive Director, SI4DEV

Phone/Whatsapp: +1 (425) 802-8209

Website: http://www.si4dev.org/ | Email: contact@si4dev.org;

 

[1] Waste Management & Research (1989) 7, 115-120

[2] http://ibadanmetro.com/ibadans-week-in-pictures-5th-9th-march/

[3] World Bank. 2017. Nigeria – Private sector participation in solid waste management activities in Ibadan (Vol. 2) (English). Washington, D.C. World Bank Group. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/221251487249039986/Nigeria-Private-sector-participation-in-solid-waste-management-activities-in-Ibadan

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