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"How to chart a new course for waste management in Africa"
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"How to chart a new course for waste management in Africa"

Around 80% of the world’s waste is produced by North America, Western Europe, Japan and South Korea, despite only accounting for 35% of the planet’s population. But as Tayo Elegbede, 23, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Nigeria, learns, this does not mean Africa can afford to ignore its own growing garbage problem. 

With a population of over 1 billion people Africa is the world’s second most populated continent and, just like other regions, is seeking sustainable solutions to waste management.

In achieving the mandate of a clean and sustainable environment, Let’s Do It World, a global civic movement based in Estonia, organized a three day continental conference in the Republic of Benin between 19 and 21 November 2012.

Let’s Do It World is focused on reducing the millions of tonnes of illegal garbage lying around the world through massive cleanup actions. At the moment, about 70 countries of the world are members of the movement.

The conference, entitled, ‘Let’s Do It Africa’, was themed on ‘the challenges towards environmental sustainability: hygiene and sanitation’ and held in Cotonou, the economic capital of Benin. It brought together Let’s Do it World country representatives as well as other stakeholders to discuss and chart a new course for waste management in Africa.

According to one speaker, Hans Jorg Nuemann, the German Ambassador in Benin, both government and citizens have crucial responsibilities in achieving a cleaner continent. “The government of course, as always, has to organize, has to give a legal frame and enforce laws and first of all give laws,” the Ambassador said.

“[Then there are] the little things can be done, like collecting garbage, like not throwing things into the road, that of course can be done by everyone”. He added that “Every individual deserves a clean environment”.

Speaking on the ‘Causes and solutions of problems in waste and sanitation’, Muna Lakhani, representative of the Institute for Zero Waste in Africa, noted that in improving waste management, the world would need to change its thinking. He revealed that “80% of the world’s waste is produced by North America, Western Europe, Japan and South Korea who only account for 35% of the world’s population – hence the rich countries are responsible for generating the world’s waste”. Muna added that Africa is ripe for a zero waste approach.

Speaking after the event, Katty Bebe, Country Director of Let’s Do It Ghana, said: “It’s been great being a participant of this conference because of the great ideas people shared. I’ve also gained much knowledge. The wonderful thing about the conference is the diversity of the ideas people are using to solve the problem of waste management in Africa”.

On his part, Gambian Bernard Gomez, said: “Well, the contacts made are pretty good. It feels good to come out and meet your fellow African brothers and learn from them with regards to what they have being doing in their own countries. So, I’ll go home, do some things that some countries did, the good practices from them, and try and see how to improve the Let’s Do It Gambia team back home”.

“This conference has allowed me to share experience with individuals who are engaged in the fight for environmental protection,” said Togolese attendee Assigbley Eri. “The conference has also helped me in finding my way as an undergraduate”.

Representing Senegal was Fatimah Tikane, who observed that “there are many motivated Africans and African leaders that have been doing many environmental projects already. I’m sure something good is going to come out of it”.

Let’s Do It Africa conference in Benin – Credit: Tayo Elegbede JET

You can follow-up with the activities of the team by checking www.facebook.com/letsdoitafrica

Tayo Elegbede JET is a Nigerian Journalist cum Mediapreneur Follow @tayojet1

Featured photo: Participants outside the Let’s Do It Africa conference in Benin – Credit: Tayo Elegbede JET

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About me:

I am a young broadcast journalist, radio presenter, writer, public relations practitioner and social entrepreneur with a passion for all-round human development. My core philosophies in life include honesty and integrity, open-mindedness, responsibility and accountability.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response.

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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