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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Zai Community, Dutse, Jigawa State, Nigeria

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Zai Community, Dutse, Jigawa State, Nigeria
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Registered: August 2011
City/Town/Province: Agege
Posts: 1
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My name is Conrad. On 25th October 2011, I left my family and hometown to participate in the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC), a national volunteering program where young Nigerian graduates are mobilized to participate in different national development capacity. I’m a graduate of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, and was posted by the NYSC to the north-western part of the country, precisely to a city called Dutse in Jigawa state. Dutse happens to be the state capital but one of the most environmentally challenged city I have ever been to. There are no gutters or community drainage systems. They do not have a regular sanitation day as we used to have in my home town, where people come out once in a month to jointly clean up the streets. Here people throw out their dustbins anywhere they like. It’s a normal thing to see a dump site at the back of most houses here. Even though they have a state environmental protection agency responsible for providing the waste drums which is often collected every week, the community people are not educated enough to have the habit of disposing their waste in the drums provides. Couple with this is fact that this state generates more livestock than most states in my country; as a result they rear a lot of sheep, cattle and goats. But they allow those animals to drop their dung everywhere causing a plague of flies.
The NYSC allows us to join any of its community development groups, so I decided to join the MDGs [Millennium Develop Goals] community development group; I was later nominated to be the group’s president. Without much delay, the first group project I suggested we embarked upon is environmental sustainability. Therefore this report will highlight my effort as group leader in mobilising the group toward the success of the project, and also more importantly, my personal activities required of every group members in the project. I have encouraged my group members to also upload their individual reports. As they do so you would read about them more.
The project was aimed at initiating practical approach to the existing environmental threats in the city of Dutse. We identified 30 locations within the city having critical environmental problems, some of which include: improper disposal of sewage solids, liquid, non-decomposable wastes, domestic and agricultural wastes in open fields and in community environment. Others are discharge of offensive odours in air, deforestations and burning of bush practises. All these were responsible for the regular cases of Asthma, Diarrhoea, lower respiratory infections and infant death increases in the state. Other effects have been contamination of surface and ground waters with toxic chemicals from these wastes, soil erosion and poor food production leading to hunger. We strategized our plans, wrote proposal and request for supports to Jigawa state environmental protection agency (JISEPA), the MDGs state office, and other organizations to help us with the resources needed (i.e. rakes, shovels, wheelbarrows, brooms, hand gloves, nose masks, waste bags, and transportation of the wastes to a proper dumpsite). And they really supported us with their services.
The awareness campaign finally commenced on Friday 1st of July, when all our 30 volunteers moved into those 30 communities - including schools, farms, market squares and industries - to sensitize them on various environmental threats in their communities, the effects on humans, plants and animals, and how to sustain those environments. We also let the communities know that we would be coming back the following Friday 8th of July for the clean up, and that their support would be needed during the clean up. The clean up was carried out as planned with the community members; and a total estimate of about 20,000cm3 of wastes were collected. Afterwards, the JISEPA brought their trucks to the various locations to help transport those wastes for managements or proper disposal.
Personally, the community I worked with is called ‘Zai’. They have three villages and three village heads. There was a particular waste dumpsite in one of the villages close to a very high voltage transformer. This is a very dangerous zone, yet people don’t mind to go there to drop their wastes. Also the entire Zai communities have no gutter or sewage systems. They let out their liquid wastes indiscriminately out of their homes. This has caused uncontrollable air pollution, irritating sights and increased breeding of flies. Because of these challenges, I was particularly interested in working with this community. On the sensitization day, I went round talking to everyone and groups I met in those villages. In this part of the country, women are not always found outside, and it is their culture that men should not enter into their homes either. So it was difficult entering their houses to speak with them. However, after talking to those men I could find outside of their houses. I decided to have a meeting with their village heads so that they would pass the information to their house wives and family members. The meeting held on Tuesday 5th of July at 9pm. While addressing the community leaders, I enlightened them on various environmental problems discovered in their community, and the effect it has on them, their animals, their food production, and the society at large. I advised them to explain to their families and the entire community as well. I also advised them to have a routine community clean up exercise, when all community members come out and jointly clean the public places, clear out the dirty water lodgements around them to reduce the flies’ invasion. I dissuaded them from forming new dumpsites every time around their houses; rather they should make use of the waste drums provided by JISEPA at one particular spot. Finally, I invited them to support me during the clean up exercise on 8th July.
In addition to my awareness campaign, I approached a radio station (Freedom FM) in the city, and they invited me on a radio show to educate listeners in the state on the effects of environmental problems around them, how to sustain their environments, and talk more about our projects of clean up. The 30-minute radio program held on the same day of our awareness campaign - Friday 1st July - at 5pm. I went with two of my group members, and while talking on the radio, I highlighted different problems we have spotted in the various Dutse communities, and the dangers posed by those environmental problems. I also encouraged the listeners to support our volunteers working in their communities. It was a live program and some listeners called in (phone call) to appreciate our efforts and promised to support our volunteers.
On 8th July, the cleanup day, I was really happy because a good number of young men of the community came out to join me at the dumpsite to clean up the wastes. Some of them brought addition cleaning tools like spades, cutlasses, and rakes. The cleaning started at 10am and at about 2pm we had cleared the waste and grasses around that dangerous site. After this, the JISEPA vehicle came and we packed the wastes into it. The total wastes we collected from this site alone were estimated to about 150kg.
Now, Zai community people are more aware of environmental problems than before. They are now conscious of their environment and the human factors that could degrade it. As a response to the advice I gave them, some of the house owners have cleared out different unwanted grasses and weeds growing up around them. They have reduced the indiscriminate dumping of their wastes; each house now uses a waste bag which is emptied into the JISEPA drums available. They have been replicating this cleanup exercise by clearing out those various dumpsites around their houses. They have also extended the clean up measures to where their animals live; now they don’t leave animal dung exposed, it is often covered with soil. Because there are no gutters and liquid sewage systems, they have created pathways for their liquid wastes to pass out of their houses. And they ensure that they clean up those water pathways regularly. At least these are good practises to arrest some of the environmental threat of this community. The part of the government is to make certain this people have good drainage systems, and also a bigger waste drum. I was able to persuade the JISEPA to agree that the generated wastes from that community are packed at least twice a week.
This project has really impacted me such that I have now naturally been considered to be an environmentalist. I talk to everyone I meet that cares to know the effect of environmental problems. Some days ago, my church group wanted to have a party and they decided to use disposable plates and spoons for ease of service. When I heard it I quickly calculated the amount of wastes that would result to – about 20kg of wastes. So I approached our group leader and told her of the damage those ‘minute’ wastes would cause to our environment if those disposable plates are used. With this, I was able to dissuade them from using the disposable materials and encouraged them to use non-disposal, washable plates and spoons so we don’t generate unnecessary wastes.
I have been re-invited by that same radio station and given a slot to continue the environmental awareness program. So right now I have drawn up my plan to have a 12-week environmental awareness show on their station; though I intend to record it and have it re-played in other radio stations across the country. The program will include talk shows, discussions, interviews and drama encouraging environmental sustainability. To make the program really impacting, I have planned to do the radio show in the local dialect (Hausa language).
In addition, due to the effectiveness of this project, we have planned to extend it beyond this city to the whole state. We shall be doing this next exercise on the World Clean Up day (Sept 16th and 17th). We will mobilize and work with other NYSC colleagues in the various local government areas of the state.
In conclusion, I read a World Health Organization’s report that says: “Clean up the environment could save 13 million lives annually”. And to that effect, I will say I am so happy to be considered one of the saviours of our world.
· Date: August 1, 2011 · Views: 3448 · File size: 17.0kb, 96.1kb · : 1024 x 576 ·
Hours Volunteered: 240
Volunteers: 30
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 30 & 20 to 30
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