News / Africa

Lagos Recycles Waste Into Wealth

A woman waits for customer at a local food market, in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, January 16, 2012.
A woman waits for customer at a local food market, in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, January 16, 2012.
LAGOS, Nigeria — With its 18 million people and booming growth, Lagos faces numerous challenges. One of them is waste management. Once tagged one of the dirtiest cities in Africa, Lagos is making big progress, thanks to a new initiative which recycles waste and turns it into a natural fertilizer.
 
Waste traders

Bustling, crowded and busy. Today is just another day at the Mile Twelve market in Lagos - one of the biggest markets in West Africa. Thousands of traders sell vegetables and fruit along cramped alleys.
 
Recently they have been joined by a new kind of vendor: waste traders. In an open space at one corner of the market, dozens of people are packing old and damaged organic products into big bags. In a few hours, the trucks from the Earthcare Company will transport the bags to a recycling plant to make fertilizer. Lawal Lauwrence, who works at the market, says this endeavor was long needed.

"It helps us a lot to keep the market clean," said Lauwrence.

Daily waste

Each day, the city of Lagos alone generates 10,000 metric tons of waste - 60 percent of it organic. As the metropolis keeps growing, the local government was pressed to find a solution for dealing with mountains of waste. The Lagos Waste Management Agency, known as LAWMA, decided to turn waste into wealth, as Abimbola Jijoho-Ogun, explains.

“We have to look for alternative use for this waste," said Jijoho-Ogun. "In view of that, we now had to involve the government and private individuals in making sure that whatever is being collected is converted to resources. So in Lagos we say there is no waste. Every waste is converted to something that will bring money for an average individual or those that are interested - especially the investors. So we are empowering people and promoting cleaner Lagos initiatives.”

Earthcare, a company formed in 2009 by association between an American business, the Lagos government and private Nigerian investment, is one of the pioneers of the city’s recycling program.

Benefits

Away from the crowds of Lagos is the company's compost plant. Program manager Japhet Irogbarachi, explains their recycling is not only a solution for disposing of waste, but it actually helps enrich the environment and the community.

“There are some areas, some soils, that have been degraded as a result of pollution.  So it is only organic fertilizer that can remediate the soil - to add value and enable us to grow more food and ensure food security," said Irogbarachi. "And again, the food grown with organic fertilizer is at the premium, it's natural, free from any toxins. So you are having safe food which also adds value to our health.”

The process to turn organic waste into compost is quite simple. First, the waste is left to dry for 8 weeks in the adjoining field. Then it is sorted in machines, which separate non-organic material, such as plastic, from organic residue, which is processed into a dark-brown, fine-grained fertilizer. The bags of compost are then sold all around the country to farmers.

Organic fertilizer

Saibu Sulemon is a farmer. He lives near the Earthcare plant and has been using the compost for several years replacing his use of chemical fertilizers. As he spreads the compost powder on his spinach shoots with bare hands, he explains he will never go back to using chemical ones.

“I use it freely," said Sulemon. "Because I can use it even without water - which is not the same case as with other chemical fertilizers. So now even though the crops are grown up, the leaves cannot get burned or scorched, unlike [with] the chemical ones. “
 
Each day, Earthcare and its 70 employees recycle 600 tons of organic waste into compost. With a capacity of 1,500 tons per day, the company now seeks to develop so it can meet the demand from the rest of the country.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More