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Overcoming Nigeria’s e-waste epidemic | The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

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Pickers dismantle appliances by hand at Odo-Iyalaro, Lagos to extract salable components. PHOTO: IRENE GALAN/ UN ENVIRONMENT

It’s close to midnight on a Sunday and the skies of Lagos hang dark over the glittering lights of the city’s 17.5 million residents. One of those lights is small fire in a field in Ikeja, the capital of Lagos State, where 24-year-old John stands, tossing cables into the flames.

“I’ve been coming to this place for almost six years now, I like it because when I am here nobody disturbs me,” John says. He is one of the hundreds of informal ‘pickers’ who make a living scavenging saleable materials from the Odo-Iyalaro scrapyard, home to a thriving informal market for electronic waste. It’s the end of the weekend and he is burning plastic cables to access the copper wires at their core. The practice is illegal, but John is confident that the police won’t check the yard today, giving him precious time to build a store of metals he will sell the following morning.

Nigerian law prohibits burning plastic cables, as well as acid leaching and other common methods used by John and his fellow pickers to reclaim valuable metals from discarded electronics. But minimal enforcement and a low awareness of the risks they are running means most pickers continue to regularly expose themselves to toxins that cause respiratory and dermatological problems, eye infections, neurodevelopmental issues, and, ultimately, shorter lives.

Restricted but on the rise
While international agreements like the Basel Convention prohibit the import of hazardous waste, unscrupulous importers and a porous customs system mean Nigeria now ranks alongside Ghana as one of the world’s leading destinations for electronic waste. The country receives 71,000 tonnes of used consumer goods through the two main ports in Lagos from the European Union and other more industrialized economies every year.

“Some of the e-waste from abroad is comprised of cathode-ray TVs, which contain lead, as well as refrigerators and air conditioners containing hydrochlorofluorocarbons, making it a threat to those who are dismantling and dealing with the products,” the UN Environment Programme’s Eloise Touni says. Plastic components, including hard casings and cables, also contain persistent organic pollutants used as flame retardants, such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE). These were banned by the Stockholm Convention due to their long-lasting global impacts and are regularly detected in ecosystems and people all over the world, including in Arctic wilderness and their traditional inhabitants.

In partnership with Nigeria’s National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, Touni coordinates the Global Environment Facility-funded Circular Economy Approaches for the Electronics Sector in Nigeria project, an ambitious three-year, multi-million-dollar initiative aiming to see the nation adopt a financially self-sustaining circular economy approach for electronics.

The e-waste journey
“Nigeria is an attractive destination for waste exporters, partly due to the limited enforcement of import restrictions and other regulations,” Touni says.

Often hidden or falsely declared, electronic waste enters Nigeria through two ports in Lagos and over land routes from neighbouring countries before finding its way to sites like Olusosun, Nigeria’s largest dumpsite. With 100 acres filled every day by 10,000 tonnes of rubbish, including e-waste, Olusosun is a scavengers’ heaven, busy with pickers searching for waste they can break down and sell on the informal market.

Just a few kilometres away at Odo-Iyalaro, pickers can sell 1 kg of aluminium for 220 naira (US$0.61), 1 kg of brass for 700 naira (US$1.94), and 1 kg of copper for 1,500 naira (US$4.17).

“I’d like to do something else… but I can feed my family with this job,” says mother-of-four Malaiah, as she crouches over an old computer, breaking it down with a small hammer to extract as much metal as possible. “I get 10,000 naira a week. My children are all in school, my eldest is in university.”

Touni says that as pickers work on an individual basis, scavenging directly from dumpsites, they can undercut the limited formal recycling operations that exist. But their competitive edge comes at a personal cost—frequent injury and daily exposure to poisonous leakages and emissions from the waste they break down by hand.

Alongside the raw materials they sell at markets like Odo-Iyalaro, pickers sell more valuable components to informal recyclers, whose shops are located in Computer Village, the largest technology accessories market in Africa. In sweltering rooms above its chaotic streets, engineers repair computers, mobile phones and screens using the parts provided by the pickers, before selling them on to both local clients and foreign markets.

“I buy loads at 2,000 or 3,000 naira per kilogram. I can’t tell you how much I sell them for, but I give them to somebody that takes them to Germany, Turkey and China,” one of the shop owners says.

The costs of ethical recycling
Thanks to their overall low costs, informal recyclers play a competitive role in the international market, where scrap and component buyers often choose them over their registered competitors.

“The informal sector doesn’t incur costs in tax, power, labour costs or incorporation legalities. It will always be the highest bidder for waste to process,” says Adrian Clews, Chief Executive Officer of Hinckley Recycling, one of Nigeria’s two registered electronic waste recyclers and a partner with the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency on the Circular Economy project.

In collaboration with Verde Impacto, a recovery and recycling company specialized in post-consumer recycling, Hinckley has started to incorporate informal pickers into their business, providing them with training and protective equipment, alongside health services, insurance cover and bank accounts. However, the company struggles to offer competitive rates to beat what pickers can make on the informal market.

“The company can pay the same as the informal market only if additional funding is available,” says Clews, “but without extended producer responsibility legislation we are fighting a lost battle.”

Taking responsibility for waste
Extended producer responsibility legislation tasks manufacturers with responsibility for their products throughout their lifecycle—emphasizing extended use, waste prevention, recycling and recovery—with the aim of minimizing the impact of consumer electronics on human health and the environment.

In Nigeria, the application of existing extended producer responsibility legislation has so far been hampered by the complexity of the local market and the lack of an industry-wide body to support increased formalization of the recycling sector.

Raising awareness on the impacts of hazardous e-waste and improving the implementation of Nigeria’s extended producer responsibility legislation are amongst the first steps being taken by the Nigerian government and partners under the Circular Economy Approaches for the Electronics Sector project. The project will also contribute to the development of best cases and approaches for implementing the Circular Economy in Nigeria and Africa. The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency Director General Aliyu Jauro is confident the initiative will “sensitize workers, embrace the best practices, support the private sector and lead Nigeria on its way to a circular economy approach in the e-waste sector.”

Walking below the city’s starless sky, John has only heard about the changes ahead for the waste sector. Being a picker isn’t a choice—he aims to become a recycling engineer. Tonight, the air is too polluted to make a wish on a falling star. But, with change in the wind for Nigeria’s e-waste recyclers, in three years, the Lagos skies will be a little clearer, and John might just have the chance to make his dream come true.

Nigeria

Gov AbdulRazaq urges youths to shun drug abuse, other vices

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Gov AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara has called on Nigerian youths to shun drug abuse and other vices that could hinder them from realising their lifetime ambitions.

AbdulRazaq made the call on Wednesday when he received members of the state chapter of Scouts’ Association of Nigeria (SAN), led by its Commissioner, Deacon Olabisi Afolayinka, at the Government House, Ilorin.

The governor, who recalled, with nostalgia, his days as a scout boy in Capital School, Kaduna, said that the organisation had contributed immensely to nurturing youths to become good citizens and contribute to the development of the country.

“This is an association that prepares youths on how to be good citizens and how to relate with their fellow countrymen.

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“These are virtues that the youth of today should maintain. In our own days as youths, there were no rampant cases of drug abuse,” he said.

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The governor urged the youth to use their energy for productive ventures and join the organisation to make positive contributions to society.

AbdulRazaq, who was made the organisation’s Ambassador of Peace, promised to live up to expectations by giving necessary support to the body through relevant government agencies.

Earlier in his remarks, Afolayanka said that the constitution of the body automatically made the governor of any state its patron and the president grand patron.

He commended AbdulRazaq for the audience granted the association, saying that this was the first time any governor would be hosting them in the state in the last 21 years.

Afolayanka said that the association was founded to build young boys and girls to make useful contributions to the country.

The SAN commissioner noted that cultism and other vices were not rampant in schools in the past when the scouts held sway.

He urged the governor to continue to support the association for effective discharge of its responsibilities in the state.

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Nigeria

NYSC: Bwari assures Corp members improved welfare

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The Chairman of Bwari Area Council, Mr John Gabaya has assured members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) of his administration’s readiness to improve on their welfare.

Gabaya gave the assurance when representatives of the FCT NYSC Secretariat, and some members of the NYSC 2019 Batch B’, paid him a courtesy visit on Wednesday in Abuja.

Gabaya, who appreciated the team for the gesture, said that it was the duty of the council, as host of the NYSC Orientation Camp in the city to ensure it gave the Corps maximum support.

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He acknowledged the fact that the camp in Kubwa, was faced with infrastructure challenges, adding that efforts would be made to amendments it and bring succour to the corps members.

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“The council, in its capacity, alongside the management of the scheme, would meet and discuss how it would make the development feasible including our best effort to add a little raise to their allowance,” Gabaya said.

Earlier, the NYSC FCT Coordinator, Mrs Waleeda Isa, said the visit was to acquaint its officials with the new administration of the council as host of the orientation camp.

Isa decried the sorry state of infrastructure at the NYSC camp, saying “their lodge in the camp is dilapidated and needs attention”.

“Also, it would go a long way for those who serve under the council, if your administration can kindly add a little to their allowance to augment what the Federal Government is giving them.

“We will be honoured if you make these efforts so that we feel your presence and know that you have us at heart,” she said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NYSC 2019 Batch B’ corp members have reported and would be inaugurated at the orientation camp on Aug. 22.

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Nigeria

Lagos govt boosts MCC services in Eti-Osa Tribune Online

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THE Lagos State Government says it has completed yet another Maternal and Childcare Centre (MCC) located in Eti-Osa Local Government Area of the state to increase residents’ access to qualitative maternal and child healthcare.

The state Commissioner of Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, made this known on Wednesday in Lagos during an advocacy meeting with community leaders and residents of Badore.

Abayomi was represented by the Director of Projects, Ministry of Health, Dr Olusola Oduwole.

He said that the continuous implementation of strategic maternal child survival interventions, policies, programmes and projects by the government was geared toward the reduction of maternal and child mortality in the state.

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According to him, the local and national statistics of maternal and child mortality and morbidity rate are of utmost concern to the government hence, the adoption of various strategies to combat it.

“One of these strategies is the construction of MCC, a specialised healthcare centre for mothers and children.

“It is aimed at taking maternal and child healthcare closer to the people by reducing the travel time and improving the quality care to the highest possible standard,” the commissioner said.

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Abayomi said that the MCC was located on Ogombo Road along Abraham Adesanya Estate in Eti-Osa local government area.

According to him, the facility is a four-floored 110-bed complex designed to respond to maternal and child health issues.

“It will provide quality services for the restoration, improvement and promotion of the health and well-being of women, babies and children in the local government area and adjoining communities.

“It has two theatres where surgeries can be done; consulting rooms; treatment rooms, antenatal and postnatal wards; baby nursery; pharmacy, laboratory and offices, among others,” he said.

Abayomi said that the construction of MCCs in the state was designed to stem the tide of maternal deaths which occurred as a result of delivery by unskilled birth attendants, haemorrhage, infection, obstructed labour and malaria, among others.

He said that women should not die in the course of life procreation process.

“The concept of the construction of MCCs was mooted with the conviction that these interventions will impact positively on the health indices of our mothers and children who constitute a significant percentage of clients attended to at public health facilities.

“The Eti-Osa MCC will commence operation before the end of the week and will serve as a referral centre to all primary health facilities in Eti-Osa local government and accompanying communities.

“It will yield the much desired and anticipated impact towards the reduction of maternal and child mortality in the area,” the commissioner said.

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Nigeria

Psychiatric resident doctors vow to continue strike %

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THE Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, has resolved to continue its ongoing indefinite strike demanding for optimal mental healthcare for patients.

The President of the association, Dr Afeez Enifeni, said in a statement on Wednesday, in Lagos, that the strike would continue until the management addressed the work experience of the overworked doctors.

Enifeni said that the doctors had on Aug. 19 held a meeting to review the current industrial action.

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The doctors accused the hospital management of being insensitive to the plight of the in and outpatients, who according to him, are receiving suboptimal mental health services.

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“The hospital management has blatantly refused to replace the annual exit of resident doctors for the past four years.

“Instead, they have let patient load and clinical work increase significantly for hapless resident doctors whose health and academic pursuits have suffered irreparably.

“In light of the above, the management’s insistence on employing only five locum doctors is highly provocative of our demands.

“It hardly improves the status quo which already puts overworked resident doctors at the brink of academic failure, health challenges and malpractice suits,” he said.

He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the hospital’s management to do the needful in line with the administration’s next level agenda.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the resident doctors had embarked on an indefinite strike on July 31 over non-employment of more resident doctors at the hospital.

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Nigeria

AIDS: Society says self-stigma more destructive than HIV/AIDS

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THE Coalition of Civil Society Network on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (COCSNHAN) on Wednesday said that self-stigma was more destructive to people living with HIV than the disease.

Mr Ikenna Nwakamma, first Co-chairman of the society, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that it was the major reason people living with HIV default from treatments.

Nwakamma, who called for the incorporation of mental health services in the national HIV programme, said it was imperative to rescue patients from the dangers of self-stigma.

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“Very important, the issues of self-stigma is hardly talked about and that is even more destructive; it is the major reason people living with HIV default in their treatment,” he said.

The society’s co-chairman explained that mental health would make people living with HIV become co-managers of their health.

According to him, mental health problems among people living with HIV is the new epidemic and we must deal with it squarely.

Nwakamma restated the plans of the society to set up a monitoring system that would capture and report cases of stigma and discrimination in health facilities.

He promised that any identified case would be used to send a strong warning to others.

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