Solid Waste Management in Nigeria

waste-nigeriaSolid waste management is the most pressing environmental challenge faced by urban and rural areas of Nigeria. Nigeria, with population exceeding 170 million, is one of the largest producers of solid waste in Africa. Despite a host of policies and regulations, solid waste management in the country is assuming alarming proportions with each passing day.

Nigeria generates more than 32 million tons of solid waste annually, out of which only 20-30% is collected. Reckless disposal of MSW has led to blockage of sewers and drainage networks, and choking of water bodies. Most of the wastes is generated by households and in some cases, by local industries, artisans and traders which litters the immediate surroundings. Improper collection and disposal of municipal wastes is leading to an environmental catastrophe as the country currently lack adequate budgetary provisions for the implementation of integrated waste management programmes across the States.

According to the United Nations Habitat Watch, African city populations will more than triple over the next 40 years. African cities are already inundated with slums; a phenomenon that could triple urban populations and spell disaster, unless urgent actions are initiated. Out of the 36 states and a federal capital in the country, only a few have shown a considerable level of resolve to take proactive steps in fighting this scourge, while the rest have merely paid lip services to issues of waste management indicating a huge lack of interest to develop the waste sector.

Scenario in Lagos

Lagos State, the commercial hub of Nigeria, is the second fastest growing city in Africa and seventh in the world.  The latest reports estimate its population to be more than 21million making it the largest city in entire Africa.  With per capita waste generation of 0.5 kg per day, the city generates more than 10,000 tons of urban waste every day.

Despite being a model for other states in the country, municipal waste management is a big challenge for the Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA) to manage alone, hence the need to engage the services of private waste firms and other franchisee to reduce the burden of waste collection and disposal. One fundamental issue is the delayed collection of household solid waste.  In some cases, the wastes are not collected until after a week or two, consequently, the waste bin overflows and litters the surroundings.

Improper waste disposal and lack of reliable transport infrastructure means that collected wastes are soon dispersed to other localities. Another unwelcome practice is to overload collection trucks with 5-6 tons of waste to reduce the number of trips; this has necessitated calls by environmental activist to prevail on the relevant legislature to conform to the modern waste transportation standard.

Situation in Oyo

Away from Lagos State, Oyo is another ancient town in Nigeria with an estimated population of six million people. Here, solid waste is regulated by the Oyo State Solid Waste Management Authority (OYOWMA). Unlike Lagos State, Oyo State does not have a proper waste management scheme that cuts across the nooks and crannies of the state, apart from Ibadan, the capital city, people from other towns like Ogbomoso and Iseyin resort to waste burning. In case the waste generators feels that the amount being charged by the waste franchisee is beyond their means, they dump the waste along flood paths thus compounding the waste predicament.

Burning of municipal wastes is a common practice in Nigeria

Burning of municipal wastes is a common practice in Nigeria

Kano and Rivers State with its fair share of population also suffers similar fate in controlling and managing solid waste. Generally speaking, population increase in Nigeria has led to an unprecedented growth in its economy but with a devastating effect on the environment as more wastes are generated due to the need for housing, manufacturing industries and a boost in trade volume.

Future Perspectives

The government at the federal level as a matter of urgency needs to revive its regulatory framework that will be attractive for private sectors to invest in waste collection, recycling and reusing.  The environmental health officer’s registration council of Nigeria would do well to intensify more effort to monitor and enforce sanitation laws as well as regulate the activities of the franchisees on good sustainable practices.

Taking the advocacy further on waste management, to avoid littering the environment, some manufacturing companies (e.g. chemical and paint industry) have introduced a recall process that will reward individuals who returns empty/used plastic containers. This cash incentive has been proven over time to validate the waste to wealth program embarked upon by the manufacturing companies. It is also expected that the government will build more composting and recycling plants in addition to the ones in Ekiti and Kano State to ensure good sustainable waste management.

Waste management situation in Nigeria currently requires concerted effort to sensitize the general public on the need for proper disposal of solid waste. Also, the officials should be well trained on professionalism, service delivery and ensure that other states within the country have access to quality waste managers who are within reach and can assist on the best approach to managing their waste before collection.

About Wale Bakare

Wale Bakare is a writer and a social media enthusiast with strong affection for agriculture, politics and the conservation of the environment. He has published works on numerous online blogs, newsprint & magazines. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Soil Science and Land Management and a diploma in freelance journalist from the American College of Journalism. Wale writes for WasteWatch Africa (@wwafrica) from Lagos, Nigeria and can be reached on Twitter at @waleflame and by e-mail at waleflame@gmail.com
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11 Responses to Solid Waste Management in Nigeria

  1. John H . Dzafarov says:

    Bonjour from Montreal.

    Nice piece of work ( info ) by Wale Bakare …..

  2. Wale Bakare says:

    Thanks John

  3. Adekunle says:

    Hello Wale, thanks for the awareness but I want you to realise that policy won’t change anything. Nigeria is good in designing policy statements but implementing them is another concern. Whilst there’re environmental policies in Nigeria (I don’t know of any one to be honest), there’s little or no waste management strategy (based on my experience with SEPA in three different states in Nigeria). In addition, generation of waste isn’t a problem but what do we do with that stagerring amount of refuse we produce every day. We need investments from government and private investors in this area. Waste Management sector is a multi-billion dollar sector that turn around the economy of Nigeria if we’re serious about it.

  4. Juliet says:

    Nice piece of work

  5. Max says:

    3.2 million tons of waste generated nationally, but 10,000 tons per day from Lagos?

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  7. Taofeek says:

    Nice write-up and submission. Meanwhile, it’s a collective responsibilities which includes individual citizens, government and stakeholders to ensure effective waste management practices in the country. Waste need to be properly managed from the generation phase to the last stage. Perhaps there should be a robust framework policy for best waste management practices in our regulation.

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  10. Kenneth Tumusiime says:

    Thanks Wale. You are doing a great job in Nigeria. I want to encourage you to press on. Am also doing awareness in Uganda most especially on plastic waste management. I would like to say that if you are are able to transform one person, it is already a plus and not a minus. If you press on, one day the story will be different. We can not afford to give up on the issue of waste management in developing countries especially in Africa. The common practices every where is haphazard dumping and burning of waste which must be prohibited at all costs. Please kindly target the young generation, i believe you will see great results.Thanks.

    Kenneth Tumusiime, Uganda

  11. Kingsley says:

    Nice piece… Realistically, it’s rather unfortunate our government does not encourage small scale entrepreneurs in the sector. The amount required for registration with AEPB for instance is quite high for a small scale entrepreneur. If is subsidized, I believe it would reduce unemployment in the FCT.

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