Solid waste management is the most pressing environmental challenge faced by urban and rural areas of Nigeria. Nigeria, with a population exceeding 190 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 are 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 are leading to an environmental catastrophe as the country currently lack adequate budgetary provisions for the implementation of integrated waste management programs across the States.

Lagos State Scenario

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 21 million 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 franchisees 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 mean 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 an environmental activist to prevail on the relevant legislature to conform to the modern waste transportation standard.

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.