THE PROBLEM OF SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT IN NIGERIAN CITIES (A CASE OF OWERRI MUNICIPAL AREA COUNCIL).
Solid waste management (SWM) in many low- and middle–income countries is sometimes driven by the informal sector. Unfortunately, contributions of the sector to SWM are not acknowledged in many developing countries. This situation often arises from inadequate awareness and lack of advocacy for these development contributions. This article reports on the impact of a study conducted by final year geography undergraduates on the informal waste management sector in Nsukka urban area, Nigeria. The purposes of this exercise were to stimulate development intervention on behalf of the sector to improve perceptions, attitudes and performance; to impart a range of development research skills, and to expose the students to the business opportunities provided by SWM and recycling. Informal waste sector workers and government officials responsible for SWM were interviewed, and some commercial data on recycling operations were collected. Findings of this study indicate that such advocacy initiatives were effective in increasing students’ awareness of opportunities and interest in working in the informal waste sector to promote better SWM and development in Nigeria. Lessons from this university case study are also drawn for other developing countries struggling to achieve the poverty reduction and job creation Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).