In many African communities, particularly in urban areas of sub-Saharan Africa, the generation of waste and the ineffectiveness of its management pose a major challenge to residents, the environment, and sustainable development. At the same time, when properly managed, waste is an important resource, according to many researchers.
Improper waste management, on the other hand, poses great dangers. For example, garbage dumps are a common missand in Nigeria's major cities and urban areas, upsetting the balance of source and sink functions of the environment. Negative examples are the "Owerri Waste Saga" in Nigeria or the collapse of waste mountains.
The aim of this project is therefore to develop a research-based sustainable waste management approach in West Africa. The project works with a large number of communities in Nigeria in the form of group discussions and creates awareness for waste reduction, recovery, reuse, composting and recycling. Illustrative material is provided, for example, by the city of Würzburg with its well-organized system of waste collection and disposal, recycling, composting, incineration for energy generation, and environmental and biodiversity protection. These are all important strategies for sustainable waste management and for living in harmony with nature.
Considered by many as just "garbage" or "dirt," waste has proven to be of great benefit to many. On the world's poorest continent, where 47% of the population lives in poverty, waste - the neglected gold - can be harnessed. Research shows that more than 55% of waste generated is organic. This can be composted and used as soil fertilizer, which can boost agriculture, create jobs and ultimately feed the population's hunger. 97 registered waste collection groups also underscore the importance of waste; in Owerri, Nigeria, members of the Imo Scrap Union Association make their living solely from waste collection.
Patience N. Ache was a doctoral student at the Institute of Geography and Geology at the University of Würzburg, Germany. She conducts research on waste in West Africa.