Ezeah, Chukwunonye (University of Wolverhampton, 2010)
The state of solid waste management in cities of most developing countries is fast assuming the scale of a major social and environmental challenge. In Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, the combined influence of poverty, population growth and rapid urbanization has tended to worsen the situation. The gravity of this problem is perhaps best reflected in the level of attention given to it in the United Nations (UN) Millennium Declaration. Three of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) outlined in the declaration have waste or resource efficiency implications. In response to the waste challenge many developed countries have embarked upon ambitious environmental reforms, recording remarkable advances in best practises and sustainable management of their Municipal Solid Waste (MSW). However, many developing countries such as Nigeria have fared less well in this regard as a result of several barriers militating against sustainable management of MSW. The principal aim of this research is therefore to carry out a critical analysis of the various barriers as well as success factors that affect the sustainable management of MSW using Abuja, Nigeria, as a case study. The study adopts a largely quantitative methodological approach, employing waste composition analysis of samples from the case study area, questionnaire survey and focus group interviews of stakeholders in MSW management as key methods for generation of data. Results from analysis of data, using the Statistical Programme for the Social Sciences (SPSS), indicate that between 65-70% of MSW samples from Abuja is biodegradable, mostly comprising of high wet weight and high moisture content kitchen wastes. On the other hand between 11%-30% of MSW samples from the City comprises mostly of non-degradable but recyclable materials such as glass, metals and cans, non-ferrous metals and waste electrical and electronic equipment. The implication of the high levels of moisture content in the biodegradable components is that samples are not suitable for incineration but are ideal for composting and other mechanical and biological management options. Data analysis also reveals that the main barriers to sustainable MSW management in the City include low public awareness/education on MSW management, obsolete and insufficient equipment and funding limitations. On the other hand, the most important success factor affecting sustainable MSW management in Abuja was found to be the bourgeoning City population which has a huge potential for uptake of recycled products. In summary, this research concludes that the factors affecting MSW management in Abuja are typical of many tropical urban environments. Fundamental shifts in current practises towards waste prevention; driven by a structured public education programme in MSW management is recommended, so as to bring about a more sustainable management regime. As a result of resource and time limitations, it was not possible to complete several potential lines of investigation related to this study. To fully understand the character of the Abuja waste stream however, further chemical characterization including proximate and ultimate analysis is required. Future research in this genre must endeavour to collect data from a larger sample to increase the precision of the analysis and to enable firmer conclusions to be drawn.
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