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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid