Our activities on earth have always generated waste but managing the waste was never a major issue when our population was relatively small and nomadic. However, the quest for comfort and luxury of post-modern societies and the escalation of urban centres, aided by urban population growth and rural to urban migration has resulted in increasing waste generation and ultimately, a throwaway economy.
Historically, poor management of waste led to contamination of water, soil and air, which significantly impacted public health. In medieval times, epidemics associated with contaminated water decimated the population of Europe and more recently, cholera was still a common occurrence. Some direct health impacts of poor waste management are still observed especially in the developing world.
So where we are today in Aba, others have been there but the difference is that they worked together, researched tirelessly and implemented their findings in policies that moved them to where they are today.
It is therefore up to us - as stakeholders, to rise up to the challenge and devise a solution because:
- The effective management of waste is a complex task. Appropriate technical solutions, sufficient organisational capacity and the collaboration of a wide range of stakeholders are required
- There are no quick fixes.
- Therefore, it is not realistic for a developing country to expect to go from uncontrolled dumping of waste to a ‘modern’ state of the art waste management system in one great leap.
- The traditional consultative methods where the ‘experts’ are required to prescribe solutions before the public involvement have been shown to be grossly ineffective.
- The quest for a sustainable waste management system should begin with an analytic reconstruction of historic events, highlighting the surprises and crises that have arisen as a result of both internal and external influences and instabilities in the ecological, social, political and economic systems and management institutions.
The solution is in our hands and when we come together, as the people of Enyimba has consistently shown, we achieve great things.