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“Be part of the solution, not the pollution” –Environmental stewards

 By Menidin Egbo

A group of environmental development promotion and ecological management actors in Rivers state have called on citizens to partake in proffering and applying solutions for improvement of the environment, rather than contributing to the increase of environmental problems. Coordinated by Centre for Creative Development Strategies (CCDS), a Nigerian non-governmental organization, the group members, who opt to be called “Environmental Stewards,” held an Eco-friendly summit in Port Harcourt, warning those whose activities are causing air contamination that ‘You cannot breath your own private air.”

The Summit which was held recently with support of the Embassy of France in Abuja, Nigeria, took a strong stance against irresponsible behavior of polluters of the natural environment. Summit participants advised Nigerian citizens to adopt a mindset that would embrace sound environmental sanitation management to enable the society move forward rather than regress under the burden of pollution.

Proper waste management can provide avenues for economic empowerment through a number of employment opportunities, the summit organizers informed Nigerians, calling for attitude refocusing toward ending environmental pollution practices, especially rubbish litter in urban areas. “Urban waste management can improve your health, wealth, and living conditions,” Henry Amadi, an advocate for environmental sustainability and one of the active member of the group told summit participants.

Critical recommendations were made by the summit participants to help drive a process for securing good waste management habits across various sectors of the society. The recommendations include: that waste receptacles should be provided at designated places around urban and semi – urban areas for easy collection of refuse, waste contractors should be encouraged to do proper waste evacuation around homes –especially for densely populated residential areas of major cities, house-to house collection of refuge should be re-introduced where abandoned or be considered to help address indiscriminate waste disposal practices, government agencies handling waste management should move away from being punitive-focused and rather target to promote “waste to wealth” and “scrap to wealth” innovative ideas and solutions.

Other recommendations proffered by the summit are: adopting public-private partnerships for handling sustainable waste management priority issues –especially where considering matters related to investment options, improving communication processes for enhanced awareness and sensitization in local communities, and introduction of environmental clubs in communities and schools.

The summit was carried out against the background of a recent major environmental risk-to-health assessment by World Health Organization (WHO), estimating 3.7 million premature deaths (under age 60) to be directly or indirectly linked to environmental pollution. Some of the civil society groups in Rivers State working with CCDS to empower women and youths for improving environmental conditions through waste management-based enterprising are: National Coalition on Gas Flaring and Oil Spills in the Niger Delta (NACGOND), Down of Life Foundation (DOLF), Support for Mankind Initiative, Arise for Gender and Livelihoods Initiatives (ALIVE), Collaborative Living and Development Initiative (GOLIDEIN).

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