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A policy brief

Published onAug 03, 2023


Waste is a product of living and its generation is global. Waste is produced by individual, family, municipal, industrial, and development activities. As waste is generated daily, it is also thrown out indiscriminately in some places with total disregard for the environment or immediate surroundings i.e. land, drains, or water bodies [1-7]. Wastes remain any substance or materials which are disposed of or are required to be disposed of according to the provision of national law [1]. Hence, wastes are therefore any unwanted, discarded materials no longer useful to the owner [8, 9]. Waste management involves the collection, transportation, processing, recycling, or disposal of waste materials. An increase in population, improvement in wages, and expansion of urban areas contribute to the increase in the amount of waste generated in less developed countries [8, 9]. These growths have both positive and negative implications for the environment. The critical and most prominent problems facing most urban centers in Nigeria today include among others; environmental problems resulting from air [10-14], land [15-21], and water pollution [22-36]; poor and inadequate waste disposal system, unsatisfactory sanitary conditions and low level of hygienic standards [37-41].

As anyone who works in the resource management industry knows, waste is not a problem that is going to go away quickly. The world’s cities already generate 1.3 billion tons of waste yearly, and this is expected to rise to 2.2 billion tons by 2025 [42, 43]. This waste poses a growing risk to human health, air, and water quality, along with being an increasing source of greenhouse gas emissions [44]. Even if there is sufficient room, a landfill is not the solution. Whether you believe in climate change or not, waste is not an issue to be buried away and forgotten about. The amount and variety of waste produced across Ilorin, Yenagoa and its environs poses many challenges and we welcome the growing acceptance that dumping by the roadside is inappropriate. Rising costs and the fact that roadside dumping has proven, time and again, to cause pollution to the local environment through the leachate contaminating soils and groundwater [22-36], are persuasive arguments to look for more suitable alternatives. So too are the potential revenue streams and cost savings in diverting waste from the roadside, reusing materials wherever possible and commercially viable, and generating energy from waste where recycling is not an option [45]. In recent times, Ilorin and Yenagoa city has been known and recognized as one of the cleanest cities in the country, especially during the introduction of the CLEAN AND GREEN programme that saw the introduction of private wastes management companies for both social and commercial waste management under the public-private-partnership arrangement. The combined efforts ensure daily cleaning of roadsides, walkways and evacuation of wastes with central waste storage containers placed in strategic areas of the city. The capital city of Ilorin and Yenagoa witnessed an improved aesthetic appeal and generally improved sanitation.

Ilorin and Yenagoa city today is facing challenges of waste management and the ministry and other agencies overseeing the environmental management are faced with uphill tasks of ensuring cleanliness and beautification of the metropolis. The amount of waste being generated daily is vastly increasing with the rapid exodus of people not only from rural areas and also from other urban centers. The management of waste in Kwara and Bayelsa state had recently defied all efforts of the government because the capital city is still very dirty with waste lying on the roadsides while the government spent millions of naira on waste management without commensurate results to show, this is because as the wastes are being evacuated from the roads, more wastes are still being dumped [42]. Most inhabitants and businesses in the metropolis are now making use of road meridians and roadsides for storage of wastes which are not only unsightly but unhealthy. A drive around the city center of Ilorin from Sango to Olunlade, airport road to taiwo road, Admiralty drive to Tanke, Geri-alimi to Asadam, Geri-alimi sawmill, Geri-alimi to mandate market, Surulere drive, Ojatuntun to Emir’s palace and for Yenagoa from Mbiama to Tombia to Swali market and along the express route, wastes are visible by the roadsides and road meridians. These waste problems mentioned above are basically those at the city center not including the interior parts of Ilorin and Yenagoa that basically turned most streams in and around Yenagoa and Ilorin to waste dumps, a drive around major streams in Ilorin and Yenagoa will reveal this sad practice from Oja-tuntun bridge back and front, Agbooba to unity rivers are not spared from these perilous practices. The same goes for Yenagoa along the Swali waterside (see figure 1 below) showing a typical wastes storage on road meridian in Ilorin metropolis for Ilorin and a typical wastes storage on road meridian along Bay-bridge Road in Yenagoa.

Figure 1: Map of Africa showing the Study Area with Kwara and Bayelsa State insert.

The issues with waste management strategy in Yenagoa and Ilorin metropolis are the lack of a scientific approach to waste management, no one is concerned about waste quantification and characterization. A waste management that is devoid of adequate planning and improper waste audit is a recipe for failure as we are witnessing in Yenagoa and Ilorin metropolis today. Wastes management hierarchy gives preference to planning and waste prevention and it is the most preferred in the hierarchy before wastes reuse, and recycling and the least preferred is the disposal that we based our wastes management strategy upon. Huge values are being lost from our waste stream through this unscientific waste management practice and humungous amounts are expended on the management in terms of equipment, manpower and dumpsites management. The conflicting nature of social and commercial waste management programmes is another major impediment to effective waste management as the majority of households and businesses that are supposed to patronize the private waste consultants prefer to take their wastes to the roadsides to be carried by social waste contractors. It is understandable that most people will prefer putting their waste at the roadsides or road meridians to paying for private wastes collector that will help them pick from their household. Although, the move from the current linear create, use and dispose model of consumption to a circular economy where resources are kept in the loop for as long as possible is not going to be an easy one. It will require a change of mindset and behavior from manufacturers, consumers and those in the waste and resource industries, many of whom won’t see what the benefits are. It is therefore up to market forces and state governments to drive the necessary improvements in environmental protection and the change to more circular thinking [46].

It is therefore important that we tackle existing pollutants in the land around us, especially in yenagoa and Ilorin and its environs that could otherwise have a negative impact on our air and water quality. The soil and other materials recovered from such sites should not simply be destined for roadside. While, road dumping can be a scar in otherwise potentially thriving communities. Contaminated plots often pose a threat to human health and safety, as well as the environment more generally. Our health can be affected either through direct contact with pollutants in the land or affected water, or by ingestion through the food chain. The risk of inhaling poisonous substances such as anthrax spores, smallpox and noxious gases must also be considered. Thus, if we are to move to a circular economy and effectively protect all our resources, we need to think big. This means not only considering the waste we generate and collect but also the material we have already polluted through other processes. It is perhaps the ultimate challenge, but it’s one we must rise to. Thus, waste management can be done better and more effectively if the government can make conscious decisions to stem the tide through adequate sensitization and advocacy on waste management. The following recommendation are suggested for wholistic turnaround of our waste management fortunes in the state:

  • The government needs to promulgate a law prohibiting indiscriminate waste dumping in both state, this includes dumping in the rivers or streams, dumping in uncompleted buildings, dumping on the road meridian and on the roadsides with heavy fines for defaulters. 

  • The introduction of legislation on household and business waste storage and the introduction of fines for defaulters. 

  • Government should abolish the conflicting social and commercial waste policy and allow more private participation in our commercial waste management that will cover all nooks and crannies of the capital. 

  • Promulgation of a law for the compulsory engagement of wastes contractor by each household at a rate to be determined by the government in consultation with the accredited contractor and fees collected by the agent of the government, KWIRS, BYIRS. 

  • The government trucks should be dedicated to the evacuation of refuse from road sweeping and as a backup for any private contractor with vehicular issues. 

  • The government can stand as a guarantor for any contractor in need of a vehicle loan from banks while the payment can be arranged from the proceed of money paid from his zone. 

  • Money saved by the government from the abolishment of the social contract and reduction from the cost of running can be channeled to employing more environmental health officers and public health personnel to ensure strict enforcement of the new laws and monitor the activities of private waste contractors. 

  • Appointment or engagement of waste management contractors should not be politicized to ensure success and contractor’s engagement should be based on competence and capacity.  

  • Any non-performing contractors should be disengaged if found to be incapable to render adequate services as required by the government.     


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Authors’ Profiles

Dr. Yusuf Olanrewaju Rauf is an Environmental Health Scientist (Waste Management Specialization), a licensed Environmental Health Officer with Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria and a member of African Institute of Waste Management and Environmental Studies. He is the Managing Director and CEO of Clean Consults Integrated Services, Ilorin.

Contact: [email protected]

Dr. Raimi Morufu Olalekan is currently the country coordinator for Global Research Institute and Training Centre, the South-South Zonal Team Lead for Civil Alliance for Climate Action (CACA). State Representative of Africa Institute of Waste Management and Environmental Studies in Bayelsa State. Also, he is the Technical adviser to the Executive Secretary, Bayelsa State Primary Health Care Board. His current research interests focus on environmental epidemiology, pollution control management, hydrogeochemistry, groundwater pollution, groundwater quality, health risk assessment, water and gender, chemicals & health, environmental public health policy & practice, environmental justice & health equity, physical activity & environment, noise & health, building health & resilient communities, children’s environmental health, emerging fields in environmental health, energy systems & policy, food & the environment, nature & human health, clean air, water & soil, climate change & human health, health impact assessment, water pollution and management, environmental impact assessment, waste management, institutional capacity building, policy and governance issues, environmental management, risk and vulnerability assessment, hazard mitigation, and resilience building.

Contact: [email protected]; [email protected]

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