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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid