“Make I tell wetin Happen for Abule”

It’s been such a long time since I have been away from here. As I begin to write this, Patoranking’s song “Abule” keeps playing in my head, and this is understandable because “I wan tell you wetin my eye see for Lagos, Ibadan and Osogbo.” In the last 4 weeks, I was in the South-western region of Nigeria. Now I am from this region, but as someone who grew up in Northern Nigeria, travelling to the West always seems like travelling abroad. This trip was in itself an interesting one, from being part of a research team on WASH, to participating in sustainable courses and some small flexing, I couldn’t help but notice the state of waste management everywhere I turned.

plastic bag on the beach

I spent most of my time within Ido community of Oyo state, I must say, it’s a massive place. Anyways life was going on well, until I decided to go out one evening for a walk. You can guess already, the volume of waste within this community is mind-boggling. To give you some context about this community, it is a mixture of semi-urban and rural communities, and I expected that they would probably have more bio-degradable waste. Ohh!! How wrong I was! The sheer amount of plastic waste in the drainages was eating me up.

I quickly noticed that some major contributing factors to plastic pollution in this community are the lack of waste collection facilities, attitude of the residents to waste management and overconsumption of plastic-packaged beverages, most especially in parties. The latter is a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs. This list is not exhaustive, but in my opinion, they are major determining factors. As I traversed the three States I visited, I realised this was replicated in each, irrespective of the size of the community, and this was the case almost everywhere in Nigeria.

What’s my conclusion in all of these? Nothing will change if we don’t change and maintain that change. One community may be rural today, but today’s choices would translate to what happens tomorrow. A dirty urban community didn’t become dirty overnight. It simply adopted the systems from its rural form, and I like to see it as the butterfly effect. If we are to see a change in our waste management systems, we must go back to the building blocks of our communities and start effecting change there. From the streets to the Wards, LCDAs and LGAs, lasting change must begin from the grassroots.

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