Resourceful Craftsman Gives Wastes a New Lease of Life

Nigeria is one of the biggest contributors to an ever-growing mountain of solid waste across Africa.

The young and old alike, consider junkyards and landfills as potential gold mines that offer untapped opportunities to raise cash and put food on their tables.

Disused cans of beer, leaking saucepans, and motorcycle spare parts constitute the bulk of raw materials on which recyclers like 30-year-old Josiah James depend on to fabricate novel items and sell them with added value.

In his makeshift workshop located in Bwari market just outside Abuja, Josiah James toils daily with his apprentice to give what we consider as wastes a new lease of life.

In Nigeria, no fewer than 42 tonnes of waste are generated annually with an estimated 0.65-0.95 kg/capita/day. This is more than half of the 62 million tonnes of waste generated in sub-Saharan Africa annually.

Josiah puts finishing touches to the newly moulded cooking pot

A father of three children and native of Garmi village in the Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Josiah quickly realised that his secondary school education might not enable him to earn enough money to put food on the table for his family.

After a three-year apprenticeship in 2013, Josiah had his eyes riveted on Abuja as his prime destination of choice. “I left Kaduna and came to Abuja to start my workshop because business moves faster here”.

But Josiah’s fifteen–year career as a waste recycler has not been all hunky-dory.

Living with the heat: Josiah watches the aluminium cans and allied metal scraps transform into a red-hot liquid

Beyond earning money to take care of his family, Josiah says the recycled items he manufactures from materials that would otherwise be piling up in the nation’s landfills make an enormous difference to our environment, quality of life, and country’s future.

While Josiah’s current daily output ranges between 10 and 15 pots, he believes he can do more if the conditions are right.

Since he opened his workshop, at least five apprentices have passed through Josiah’s tutelage with the prospect of establishing their own workshops.

This cohort is one of the many targeted outreach efforts of the Abuja-based Association for Waste Recovery and Renewable Energy, (AWARE), founded by Justina Ezeuzoh.

According to Justina Ezeuzoh, founder of AWARE, while small in scale, local recyclers are making an impact by exchanging trash for cash.

Like most countries, Nigeria continues to experience its fair share of problems with waste management. Ms Ezeuzoh said, “the fundamental problem we have is because of the logistics and the fact that Waste management is pretty expensive.”

One key task of the Nigerian Climate Change Response Programme (NCCRP) is strengthening the country’s capacity to manage its solid waste to reduce greenhouse gas emissions including methane whose Global Warming Potential is high.

Categories: Non classé

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