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Waste is a global environmental issue that is becoming most noted in developing countries. Public attitudes towards reusing and recycling solid waste in the Makurdi Metropolitan area of Nigeria have been sought, in tandem with their awareness of waste management options, to determine the extent to which these various approaches are utilised and to identify strategic avenues for improvement. To date, the waste management strategies of the study area, which are typical of many developing countries, remain focused on more traditional waste collection and storage methods (dumped outside the city limits in an uncontrolled landfill site) that are not conducive to sustainable futures. Questionnaires were distributed (n = 560) throughout low (Zone I), medium (Zone II) and high density (Zone III) population areas, with different income levels, and the respondent data analysed (n = 545). These reveal that most respondents (>80%) in all of the three zones are aware of solid waste reuse, recycling and reduction from source and that many of them (>90%) are willing to participate in any associated schemes. Opinion on the responsibility for managing waste was divided, with the most affluent neighborhood (Zone III) believing the government was accountable and the less affluent neighborhoods disagreeing. Moreover, many from the least affluent neighborhood (Zone I) considered solid waste to be both a serious environmental and public health risk. Concomitant with these findings, it is apparent that the infrastructure and the societal means to facilitate solid waste reduction, reuse and recycling is drastically lacking. Since there is a clear public knowledge and willingness to engage in sustainable waste management approaches, across all levels of society, it is recommended there is a shift in local authority strategy towards a sustainable hierarchy and federal government funding be forthcoming to make necessary infrastructure improvements and embrace public attitudes to solid waste reduction, reuse and recycling.
1.1 Background to the study
Cities are at the nexus of a further threat to the environment, namely the production of an increasing quantity and complexity of wastes. The estimated quantity of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) generated worldwide is 1.7 – 1.9 billion metric tons.2 In many cases, municipal wastes are not well managed in developing countries, as cities and municipalities cannot cope with the accelerated pace of waste production. Waste collection rates are often lower than 70 per cent in low-income countries. More than 50 per cent of the collected waste is often disposed of through uncontrolled landfilling and about 15 per cent is processed through unsafe and informal recycling.
Municipal Solid Waste Management 2 As a Mayor, you may have to face challenging waste management decisions addressing issues that require immediate attention as well as potential issues that require strategic and integrated planning and implementation. Establishing and improving facilities for collection, recycling, treatment and disposal for MSW management can be very costly. For example, building and operating sanitary landfills and incineration plants require huge investments and incur substantial operation and maintenance costs. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find suitable locations for waste treatment facilities due to the prevalence of the Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) attitude amongst communities.
Meanwhile, if waste is growing at 3-5 per cent a year and rural-urban migration increases a city’s population at a similar rate, then a city’s waste generation will double every 10 years.4 Urban managers are therefore encouraged to pursue the paths of Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) and Reduce, Reuse and Recycle (3Rs) that place highest priority on waste prevention, waste reduction, and waste recycling instead of just trying to cope with ever-increasing amounts of waste through treatment and disposal. Such efforts will help cities to reduce the financial burden on city authorities for waste management, as well as reduce the pressure on landfill requirements. We live in a world of increasing scarcity. Raw materials from natural resources are limited, financial resources are often insufficient, and securing land for final disposal is getting more difficult.
Clearly, city authorities should set policy directions aiming for resource efficient, recycle-based society if they are to provide a clean, healthy and pleasant living environment to its citizens for current and future generations. Although waste management responsibilities primarily lie with cities and municipalities, many of the successful cases in waste management involve a wide range of stakeholders in their implementation, as can be seen in the case studies cited here. This gives a clear message to cities and municipalities that they should not try to do everything by themselves. Rather, the key to success is to do what they are good at, and collaborate with other sectors in the society, such as private sector, communities and in some cases with the informal sector, in the interest of expanding waste management services and improving efficiency and effectiveness.
The waste industry has seen increasing pressure in recent years due to a steady rise in waste production (Burnley, 2007), fuelled by increasing population growth, rapid urbanisation (Agdag, 2008) and the need for more sustainable and environmentally acceptable waste management strategies (Hazra and Goel, 2008). As a result, management practices have evolved and, in keeping with the policies outlined in Agenda 21, there has been a paradigm shift from ‘waste management’ to a more ‘resource management’ philosophy (International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), 2009). For instance, Adewumi et al. (2005) state that solid waste could be considered “a resource in the wrong place”. However, it is inevitable that anthropogenic activities will produce solid waste but it is also possible to restore some value by creating management strategies that concentrate on value as a resource rather than something that requires disposal.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Nigerian waste management strategies have historically focused on collection and storage (Banar et al., 2008). For many parts of Nigeria this strategy is still favoured (Babayemi and Dauda, 2009), particularly in Makurdi where waste is dumped in an uncontrolled landfill close to the city limits. Concomitantly, solid waste is also dumped at roadsides at a rate that collections are unable to keep pace with and, as such, roads are often blocked by excess waste.
Increasing population growth and lack of efficient waste management strategies at both the local and national level exacerbates this problem. Nigeria is already heavily populated, having a higher population than any other country in Africa (Ogwueleka, 2009), of which an estimated 10% live below the national poverty line (World Bank, 1996). As a consequence, many people attempt to survive by scavenging open dumpsites for materials that they can sell and, as such, this exposes them to a variety of health risks (i.e. exposure to disease causing organisms, bacteria, insects and rodents) (Ogwueleka, 2009). Electronic wastes, such as computers and mobile phones are particularly sought because they offer recoverable parts that may be sold-on for re-use and, therefore, are appealing to buyers due to potential cost savings. Unfortunately, those engaged in the collection and dismantling process are exposed to many toxic metals (such as lead, mercury and cadmium) (Miller, 2006).
Waste Management has proved a huge challenge for local authorities in Nigeria. The Federal Government of Nigeria has implemented various laws and regulations in an attempt to tackle the problem, however, insufficient funds are available at the local level to invest in either training or the technical resources that are needed to tackle waste problems (Ogwueleka, 2009). Landfilling (controlled or otherwise) has become a less preferable option as it requires large amounts of space, poses potential threats to the environment and human health through leaching and gaseous emissions and recovers only a limited amount of energy (Messineo and Panno, 2008). Therefore, many of these laws and regulations attempt to facilitate a shift in strategy towards the more acceptable, newly-established waste management hierarchy that encourages waste prevention, minimization, recycling and recovery (Banar et al., 2008).
1.3 Objective of the study
The main objective of this study is to examine the process of recycling and reuse as alternatives to waste management in Nigeria. Specifically this study aims to
(i) gauge public opinions towards reducing, reusing and recycling solid waste in the Makurdi Metropolitan area of Nigeria;
(ii) reveal public awareness of waste management options; and
(iii) identify appropriate avenues for strategic policy improvements.
1.4 Research Questions
i) what are the public opinions towards, reusing and recycling as alternative to solid waste management?
ii) what is the level of public awareness of waste management options?
iii) what is the appropriate avenues for strategic policy improvements?
1.5 Significance Of The Study
Any reasonable research work must be designed to be of significance to the society. Also, the significance of a study deals with the benefits that will be derived from it after it has been concluded. This goes further to signify that any research carried out without defining its significance may be regarded as a waste of time and resources.
Apart from the various diseases and toxic conditions inherent in and derivable from the indiscriminate disposal and dumping of wastes; which has become a common practice in Benue state, the presence of waste degenerates the aesthetic value of the environment. The findings of this study will contribute it quota in the quest to making the state one of the cleanest 21st century city in the world. When this is achieved, the aesthetic attraction of the state will begin to boost her tourist industry, which is a source of revenue to the government and a job creator for her masses. Again, if the recommendations and suggestions of this study will be sincerely and adherently pursued, it will reduce, to the barest minimum, the adverse effect of such diseases like Malaria, diarrhea, cough, catarrh, cold, and fever. This will in turn cut down on the high rate of infant mortality and pregnant women mortality.
Academically, findings of this study will serve as a platform for other research works and add to knowledge of scholars/academicians whom will in turn impact on the students and future assignments of state or national course.
To the bureaucrats, human resources managers, town planners, and the Lawmakers, the knowledge of the problems associated with waste management in the state, and possible ways to solving them, will be a guide to them in making rational decisions and planning effectively.
1.6 Scope/Limitations Of The Study
The study is restricted to Makurdi urban centre (the state capital) and since the State Waste Management Authority was established, the study will be covering the recycling and reuse as alternative to waste management in the state starting from the year 2004 to 2010. The findings may not reflect the situation in the whole state, but by and large, there is a strong belief that what happens in the state urban center can be said to apply to other urban centers in the state.
The study is affected by lack of time, material, and money resources to see to the whole of the State.
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