Ghana hosted the 2nd edition of the African Clean Up Conference through the Green Africa Youth Organization. The event was held at Hans Cottage Botel in Cape Coast, Ghana during the weekend. This was to match up with the action the desires of the convener of the conference, African Clean Up Initiative, a non-governmental organization in Nigeria and also the convener of the Clean Up Nigeria Project for Africans to begin to take responsibility in solving their environmental challenges in both indigenous and creative ways.
Theme: Exploring New Horizons and Sustainable Best Practice in Waste Management and Recycling, this year’s conference which was mainly attended by delegates from the West African countries was proudly sponsored by Access Bank and supported by SMEFUNDS, Let’s Do It World Foundation in Estonia, Awesome World Consult, Passion House, JCI Eko and Hans Cottage Botel. The conference platform was graced by environmental professionals and intellectuals in Africa who took turns in the two days conference of 7th and 8th July 2017 to road map the way to curbing our waste issues particularly plastic waste and human waste.
According to the speakers, the problem of Africa is in her inability to manage the waste it produces not that it produces more wastes than the developed countries. And thus they proffered some solutions that will help Africans best manage their waste in the days ahead thus reducing the menace caused by improper waste disposal.
Recycling was demonstrated as one of the ways of mitigating the impact of waste in Africa. Represented by Engr. Afolasade Nubi, University of Lagos, Nigeria which bagged the award of Best Recycling Institution of the Year during the event award night for introducing recycling as a road map to achieving her Zero Waste vision in the citadel of learning delivered a paper on her recycling journey and success story since 2014 the initiative started. The paper titled ‘Solid Waste Recycling in an Academic Institution: Case Study – the University of Lagos,’ Engr. Nubi noted how the institution moved from various stages of managing her waste to the present recycling. According to her, they no longer burn their waste unlike previously which caused health related issues in the school community. But now having sorting bins across the school and residential areas which allows for source sorting and upon collection reduces the amount of waste that gets to the land fill as the majorly generated waste of paper, can, plastic are sold to recycling companies. And since 2014, the institution has made a huge amount of money from sorting and recycling of waste as well as ensuring a cleaner and healthier school community.
Mr. Yahaya Ahmed, the Director/CEO of Developmental Association of Renewable Energy (DARE) demonstrated how he was using the plastic bottles to solve real issue of homelessness in the Northern area of Nigeria. According to the climate change, expert plastic bottles can be used to solve housing issues in rural areas particularly devastated areas due to insurgency or impact of climate change. The plastic bottle brick which was proved during his presentation to be stronger than the usual bricks were used in the construction of residential building, fence, sitting pavement and trapping water for areas experiencing drought. This plastic project he also showed is providing jobs for the Almajaris in the area who now earn a decent living been trained as Mason constructing houses and wells using the plastic bricks. At the award night, he was awarded a Hero of the Environment for solving homelessness with his plastic bottle housing project in the rural areas in Northern Nigeria.
And opening delegates’ minds to a new horizon in waste management, Mr. Issac Bryant, the intellectual from University of Cape Coast (UCC) whose interest is in waste to energy technologies and resource recovery from the waste in his presentation discussed the conversion of human waste of urine to fertilizer. He noted and proved with pictorial proofs that human urine is good and better for growing crops than our usual manure. Moreso, it reduces environmental hazards if urine is collected and used on the farm or garden other than unguarded disposal that mess-up the surrounding.
Mr. Femi Oye, Co-founder /CEO of SMEFUNDS, another Hero award recipient who doubles as a speaker during the conference looked at ways for Africans to reduce their carbon footprint through clean stoves and solar powered bulbs and refrigerators good for residential and solar powered refrigerators designed specifically for farmers to preserve their vegetables and fruits. The clean store according to Mr. Oye does not emit carbon because they burn on a gel and not kerosene and the refrigerator is not only environmentally friendly but cost effective.
Joshua Amponsem, Executive Director, Green Africa Youth Organization and Country host – ACCGhana2017, exposed delegates to the pressing need for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as a medium to achieving a sustainable Africa. He highlighted on Diversity and Inclusion, Ethical Leadership, and engaged delegates in a system thinking exercise where delegates generated solutions to some of Africa’s leading challenges such as Pollution, and Food Security. Joshua, in his welcome address as the country host, established that waste generation in Africa is comparatively low but the exposure of the waste on our streets poses a huge threat and thus an urgent need for proper waste management.
Other speakers at the conference were: Kwame Ofori, the founding director, Ako Foundation; Simon Turner, Country manager, NGO Challenges Worldwide, Ghana; and Alexander Akhigbe, Founder, African Clean Up Initiative and Convener ACCGhana2017.
The conference was not only about talk and the practical sessions; there were also the fun sides. Delegates had a feel of the Ghana night life at Goil, Abura and also had a tour of the University of Cape Coast. They visited the Cape Coast market, Cape Coast beach and the Cape Coast castle and also had a tour of the facility of the nature reserve, Hans Cottage Botel. The two days event ended with the award night ceremony that celebrated Africans whose environmental activity has impacted on the African environmental space. The award was not only to appreciate them but to encourage them to do more for environmental sustainability in Africa. According to Mr. Alexander Akhigbe, the convener of African Clean Up Conference, Ghana 2017 (ACCGhana2017), “We have to keep encouraging our environmental champions to continue to drive towards environmental sustainability in Africa until we birth good policies and practices that best support living,” he said.
The following persons and institutions awarded at the event are:
Gov. Kashim Shettima was awarded for his investment in the environment sector in Borno. He engaged youths and women in the state and provided 30 roll-off-roll-on compactors worth N250 million. (Hero of the Environment). The governor was represented by Alhaji Nasiru Surundi, the General Manager of Borno State Environmental Protection Agency (BOSEPA). Receiving the award, Shettima said that the state was committed to improving environmental sanitation and creating more awareness on the importance of environmental sustainability.
Alhaji Yahaya Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer, Developmental Association for Renewable Energies, was recognized for creating jobs through innovation in plastic bottle bricks (Hero of the Environment).
The University of Lagos for introducing recycling as a road map to achieving her zero waste vision and to achieve a cleaner and neater learning environment (Best Recycling Institution of the Year)
Edith O. Efiok-Offiong, a senior correspondence, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) for her qualitative and committed environmental reportage and creating public awareness on the need for improved environmental sanitation (Environmental Journalist of the Year)
Mr Obinna Okenwa, Member representing Enugu South Urban Constituency in the state Assembly and Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources and Environmental Management, also received an award for environmental protection. (Award of Recognition) Okenwa was represented by Mr Sammy Echi Agbo, Project Coordinator Honourable Obinna Okenwa Foundation (HOOF), a non-governmental organization on environmental protection. While receiving the award, Mr. Okenwa said that he would do more to protect the environment and increase awareness on waste recycling.
Access Bank Plc and First City Monument Bank were awarded at the event as (Best Environmental Supporting Financial Institution)
Taiwo Adewole, Recyclepoints Executive Director was awarded for his role in achieving environmental sustainability in Nigeria (Award of Recognition).