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Young people in Maiduguri make sure nothing goes to waste – and they are raking in good money doing so

29 July 2022
Reading time: 3 minutes

Many unemployed youth and women in Maiduguri have found a way to make money – and they’re helping communities to reduce disease, flooding, land degradation, environmental hazards and food insecurity at the same time.

They have started collecting waste materials that can be recycled, such as plastic bags and bottles, to earn a living.

Abatcha Bulama, a waste materials collector, told RNI that he collects mostly plastic bottles, such as Coca-Cola and Faro water bottles.

“Sometimes we buy the bottles from children who pick them up on the streets. We can buy five or six plastic bottles for about ₦10 and one kilo of damaged plastic bottles for ₦15. We collect them and store them before loading them on to trucks going to Kano State, where there is a recycling centre.

“Sometimes if the bottles are not badly damaged we sell them to people, especially women who make juices to sell in the markets. I am very grateful to Almighty God. I depend solely on this business and I earn a lot. There is no stress or challenges in this business. I really thank God.”

Mustapha Adam Kolo, a lecturer in the geography department at the University of Maiduguri, told RNI that recycling of waste, especially plastic materials such as fake-leather items and bottles would help to improve land fertility and was is also a means of creating job opportunities for indigent locals.

“By clearing the area of waste materials, the pickers are actually performing a great service to their communities. For example, many people dump waste into drainage systems and waterways, which get blocked and become stagnant and they are the perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Bites from a certain kind of mosquito – the Anopheles female – cause malaria and this is how it is spread. Blocked drains and waterways can also cause flooding.”

Kolo said plastic waste even affected farming activities.

“Land becomes degraded by the incessant dumping of plastic waste. Over time, crops will not germinate properly because the soil or the land has already lost its fertility and productive capacity. So, this kind of problem could have a serious impact on food insecurity, especially when compounded by climate change and environmental hazards.

“One of the solutions to this is collecting and processing trash and waste materials for recycling, especially plastic, which can be recycled to produce new products that can be used again.

“These waste collectors are doing a great job by helping to reduce disease, flooding, land degradation, environmental hazards and food insecurity. Recycling is also helping to create job opportunities, particularly for women and young people. Not only are they doing a great job of collecting and disposing of waste products, they are also making good money by selling such materials to people who transport it to the recycling centre in Kano State, where they can be sterilised correctly and processed to make new products. In my view, this business is helping to grow the economy of not only Borno State but also of Nigeria as a whole.”

Kolo said people should keep a container near their homes, where waste can be managed and disposed of properly. The public should avoid throwing out waste materials, especially plastic, into waterways and drainage systems or just throwing them on to the roadside or streets. He said keeping their environment clean promoted healthy environmental habits.


About the author

Elvis Mugisha