In an effort to bring economic diversification in a stressed mono-economy, states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory, device means of boosting its economy by creating job opportunities to the teeming youths.
It is in this regard that the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) tends to boost capacity for more effective service delivery to its residents in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) which has contributed by sponsoring five staff of FCT Administration (FCTA) to Japan for capacity building and empowerment through waste recycling management programme.
The staff were drawn from relevant Secretariats, Departments and Agencies (SDAs) of FCTA. They were given practical experience in solid waste management in terms of Administration, Financial Management, and Data Management as well as effective and applicable methods of waste management. The team was led by Director, Economic Planning Research and Statistics (EPRS), Mr. Sani Abubakar Pai.
Other members included Mr. Segun Olusola Rufus (Satellite Towns Development Department, STDD); Muktar Ibrahim (Abuja Environmental Protection Board, AEPB); Mr. Kyari Babagana Abacha (AEPB); and Francis Aghariwo (AEPB).
According to JICA, the target of the training was to teach the outline of laws, regulations and guidelines related to solid waste management; the role of government in solid waste management; the integrated solid waste management (ISWM) system of local governments in Japan step-by-step and the application of the 3R activities (Reduce-Reuse-Recycle) by citizens and community in Japan.
The course content for the training consisted of ‘Outline of Solid Waste Management by Administration’, ‘Financial Management for Solid Waste Management’, ‘Matters needed for a Practice of Solid Waste Management’ and ‘How to Promote Environmental Education’, which was identified as key to the success recorded by Japan in her waste management efforts.
There were also visits to the Kitakyushu Environment Museum, the Kitakyushu City Environmental Preservation Association Solid Waste Collection Site, the Hiagari Incineration Plant, the Nogata City Burnable Waste Transfer Station, the Kitakyushu Eco-Town, the Seibu (Nakata) Landfill Site in Fukuoka City and the Takakura Compost site.
At the end of the training, presentations were made by each participant on the lessons learnt and action plan for improvement of the waste disposal system in the FCT.
Generally, three types of waste disposal systems were presented.
These are the Fukuoka Landfill Method which uses the semi-aerobic process to treat waste. This method is cheap to operate and maintain and the technology is simple involving a system of piping that allows oxygen into the body of the landfill, thereby aiding faster decomposition. This means that a single landfill can be turned over several times thereby extending the life of the site.
The second method is the incineration method which involves burning of waste through an incineration process that helps to reduce the volume of waste that finally gets disposed as most of the waste is burned and only the ash is dumped at the site.
This method is particularly suited to Japan where there is scarcity of land. The system also converts the energy acquired through incineration into electric energy as a by-product, but it requires sophisticated technology and is more expensive than the other methods.
The third method is composting which involves a process that mixes municipal waste with natural and garden waste to form organic fertilizer which could be used to fertilize farms and does not contain hazardous element as the chemical fertilizer commonly used by farmers.
This method helps to revive the soil as well as reduce the amount of waste being dumped at the landfill. Important take-aways from the training is that waste management is a serious problem everywhere in the world and it is not cheap to handle nor can the problem be solved overnight; That waste management requires an implementable administrative and legal framework to be effective and sustainable.
That waste disposal is not a revenue generating venture but a social service that affects the health and wellbeing of citizens and thus government must take the lead as a major player by investing heavily in the process.
Other lessons are: That there are various efficient waste disposal methods but that every country must adopt the system that best suits its peculiar situation in terms of historical experience, literacy level, cultural settings, demography, geographical endowment and above all resource capability; That not all waste is trash nor harmful and that some waste could be utilised through adoption of the 3Rs which can lower societal poverty and turn waste to wealth or renewable energy.
That waste problem is a communal responsibility which must be tackled by all stakeholders from the individual to the government, trade and non-profit organisations and schools in order to achieve optimal efficiency; That prompt and proactive attention to waste collection, waste treatment and transfer are very crucial to ensure a safe and sustainable environment.
Most importantly, another take-away from the training is that proper record keeping and maintenance of accurate data of various types of waste are important to enable planning for the future in a realistic manner.
Central to all of these is promotion of massive and sustained public awareness through a multi-dimensional education programme targeted at the community and the school environment which is a vital incubation ground for widening and instilling the culture of proper waste management from early age and that this can be achieved more easily through inclusion of environmental education as part of the curricular and extra-curricular activity of the student.
The bottom-line is that the environment defines the society and government must do everything necessary including making huge investments and enacting laws that guarantee conducive environment that would make the FCTA achieve its vision of being a first class capital city comparable to other first class capital cites of the world.