Rainy Season: Averting flood disaster through proper waste disposal

As the rainy season gathers momentum with attendant risk of flooding it is important that no effort is spared in averting it. One key step is to sanitise waste disposal.

Rainy Season: Averting flood disaster through proper waste disposal, By Abiemwense Moru

Rainy season: averting flood disaster through proper waste disposalBy Abiemwense Moru

Improper waste disposal causes many health and environmental challenges. Some of the health challenges are increased bacterial infections, throat and nose inflammation, asthma, allergies, difficulties in breathing, and reduced immunity.

Environmentally, it causes blockage of water channels and drainages, leading to flooding and its attendants loses, which in some cases, involves human lives.

In the face of poor waste disposal management by government, residents resort to self-help leading.

This has given rise to the emergence of local waste collectors known as ‘baban bola’. Others chose to throw their waste in any space convenient to them.

Unfortunately, these local waste collectors have continued to increase their charges, basking in the euphoria of “accidental monopolists“ due to failure of local authorities to do the needful.

A study by Tanzila Akmal and Faisal Jamil found that rapid urbanisation in developing countries leads to a dramatic increase in solid waste production, with serious socio-economic and ecological impacts.

They are affiliated to School of Social Sciences and Humanities, National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Pakistan.

They say poor infrastructure and land use regulations have resulted in inadequate cover of waste collection services and inappropriate disposal.

Moreover, poorly managed municipal waste creates many environmental and health-related issues, especially in the neighborhoods of dump sites. Poor urban slum dwellers are particularly vulnerable and are acutely affected by waste dumping.

Waste collection is an essential first part of the process of waste management. Ever-growing volumes of solid waste create serious issues in handling and disposing it of aptly in the face of resource constraints in less-developed countries

They also said weak institutional setup and difficulties in recovering the cost of the service make it difficult for municipal authorities in these countries to collect and segregate the waste from all potential waste producers.

In most developed countries, a door-to-door collection system is commonly used, but municipalities in developing countries can provide this service to only a limited proportion of the population due to financial and administrative incapacity.

As a result, waste is thrown into open landfill sites and dumpsites, which evolve into sources of health and environmental threats for people living in the neighborhood.

Akmal and Jamil further said because of poorly designed municipal waste management systems, many urban areas in developing countries experience significant environmental deterioration and health threats.

They findings align with the experiences of resident of Federal Capital Territory who say hike in collection prices by local waste collectors, popularly known as ‘baban bolas’, has forced them to adopt  alternative means of disposing their wastes.

Mrs Eunice Nwafor, a resident of Phase 3, of Gwagwalada said that she has resorted to burning her waste instead of patronising the ‘baban bola’.

“These ‘baban bolas’ are now becoming very expensive and I cannot continue to patronise them.

“I have resorted to burning my waste instead of paying so high on weekly basis to dispose them. It might not be the best on the environment and my health but I have no other choice,” she said.

Another resident shares her experience on how she manages her waste. It is obvious that she is ignorant of the implications of her action on humans and the environment.

“I used to gather my waste and throw it on any dumpsite I see around me or most times when it is raining I will pour the waste inside the gutter in front of my house and the rain will carry it away, says Ms Hannatu Isiaka, of Old Kutunku., Gwagwalada.

Mr Usman Adamu, a local waste collector said the continuous increase in the prices of foodstuffs and current hardship in the country has forced him to increase the cost of his services.

Adamu said the services he renders to residents is his only means of livelihood, adding that he would continue to increase his prices as prices of other things continue to soar.

“Some of my customers no longer patronise me; some of them now dispose their waste by themselves while others burn their waste.

“I will reduce my prices when cost of foodstuffs reduces in the market,” he said.

Similarly, residents of Dakwa community in Abuja, are seeking Federal government’s intervention for waste management in the community.

The residents, who made the appeal in separate interviews with NAN in Abuja, expressed concern over the poor sanitary condition of the area, due to the improper disposal of waste by some members of the community.

Mrs Hauwa Sulaiman, a 57 year-old resident of the community, complained that the practice of improper waste management in the community posed health and environmental challenges.

Sulaiman said a good number of residents have resulted to burning their waste due to lack of waste disposal arrangement by the FCT authorities.

He said this had also forced some of the residents to dump their wastes into the gutter expecting them to be flushed away by water.

“During rainy season this usually causes blockage in the drains, resulting to flood in many parts of the community.

“I suggest that government should take proactive measures by providing refuse bins and receptacles for the collection of wastes, ” she said.

According to her, such steps will go a long way to curtail flooding within the FCT.

“Government should provide refuse bins and also sensitise the people to proper waste disposal ahead of the rainy season”, she said.

Malam Hashiru Musa, a roadside vegetables seller, said he had burn the dried remnants of the vegetables while throwing the spoilt ones on the roadside.

“Since there is no proper means of waste disposal, I have no option than to dump the spoilt remnant of vegetables in a corner of the road.

“Sometimes I burn the dried ones just to try to keep my surroundings clean and comfortable for me to do my business.

“We used to have big waste collection bins in some strategic places but they are no longer there.

“Those containers used to help us a lot to dispose our waste. I want the FCT administration to return to that arrangement if we really want to have a clean city as desired,’’ he said.

Musa explained further that he and other traders had no option than to dump their waste at most convenient place for them.

He said if the improper waste management was not addressed it could lead to disease epidemic in the community.

Addressing the challenge posed by improper waste disposal requires community sensitisation and mobilisation. This is one of the issues that Mr Musa Zakariya, a community leader, has been engage in.

Zakariya said as a community leader he had tried to sensitise the people to the dangers of reckless waste disposal.

This, he said, was his contribution to the community’s efforts towards ensuring there was no flooding in the area during the rainy season but insists that government must officially designate a dump site for his community.

“The community will gladly appreciate if the government will proffer solution to this challenge,” he said

Director of Environment, Gwagwalada Area Council, Mrs Eunice Asubiojo say that in the area, for instance, there are plans to partner private waste collectors for effective waste evacuation in the council.

“We are already talking with some of the private service providers that are providing skeletal services on their own.

The authorities, she says, is not unaware of the indiscriminate manner the baban bolas dump ply their trade.

“We know we have ‘baban bolas’ but with the new measures we want to adopt, it will address the issue of ‘baban bolas’.

“They dump waste on the roads and drainages without using the legal dumpsite provide by the council,” the director said.

As the rainy season gathers momentum with attendant risk of flooding it is important that no effort is spared in averting it. One key step is to sanitise waste disposal.


News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)