Environmental stakeholders in Akwa Ibom State have identified increasing apathy in waste consciousness and management as a key challenge militating against effective waste management in Akwa Ibom State
The stakeholders made this known in their observations contained in a communique issued at the end of the waste parliament of Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN) held on Wednesday, May 18, 2022.
The parliament noted that if the situation remains unchecked, the State may fall into the state of waste crisis.
They observed that there have been creation of new points of waste disposal by Citizens and this has contributed to the difficulty experienced in waste management.
To address the challenge, the parliament recommended that the increasing waste generation in Akwa Ibom State should be seen as a means to wealth creation thus the State government should draw lessons from the Accra Zero Waste Project by transforming generated waste to wealth.
The Communique added “Waste management must move beyond the sole responsibility of the government. All stakeholders should be interested in waste management and there must be conscious effort to develop this attitude from school level through environmental clubs.
“Government must work towards improved and strategic advocacy through the media, enable citizens access to waste management laws, create sustainable waste management ecosystem by developing a database of dumpsite/dump points, establish clean-up clubs, develop house to house waste management evacuating schemes in order to halt indiscriminate waste disposal practices.”
The Parliament observed that the wealth that could have been made through the 2800 tons of waste generated per day in Uyo, the Capital city has been lost owing to the gaps in the existing waste management system in Akwa Ibom State.
They observed that there are collaborative gaps between the Ministry of Environment and Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency hence it negatively affects the link between waste policies and implementations.
The noted that although Akwa Ibom State Government has for over five years proposed a permanent site for waste management coupled with assurances of business deals with waste recycling companies, the implementation is yet to see the light of day.
Earlier, the Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Mr. Chima Williams said the journey to protect planet earth is not a task for a single group as no single individual or organization can embark on it alone hence the need for all hands to be on deck.
Represented by the Executive Director of Policy Alert, Tijah Bolton-Akpan, ERA/FoEN boss charged Waste Ambassadors to preach the gospel of waste management through their day to day actions.
He said ” It is one thing to talk about waste but it is another to act it out. As leaders in environmental stewardship, when people around you see that you are consciously reducing waste to the environment, they will unconsciously imitate you.
“Waste is swallowing us up and we need to wake up now. Nothing ever changes the world more than a little drop of action.”
In his remarks, the Head Port Harcourt Office of ERA, Kentebe Ebiaridor said the parliament was designed for stakeholders in the environmental sector to analyze declining state of waste consciousness and management, proffer practical solutions to the concerns raised and design models for the implementation of the solutions.
Also speaking, Program Manager of ERA/FoEN, Ubrei-Joe Mariere noted that the goal of the project is to assist the State government to adopt zero waste management methodology stressing that where there is waste crisis, there is failure of leadership.
In their respective goodwill messages, Mrs. Ini Umoh, Director, Climate Change Awareness of the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Environment and Ime Jacob, representative of the Chairman Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency assured the parliament of government determination to manage waste in line with international best practice.
They thanked ERA/FoEN for the support given to the State and pledged government readiness to adopt and implement the recommendation given.