| In an interview with Chief Victor, an environmentalist, on the state of the Nigerian environment and the way forward he said that “Nigeria is improving and the government of the day is trying but all hands should be on deck to make the environment a place to be and conducive for living”, and he made mention of the fact that “you do not need to have a degree before you can be an environmentalist”.
Henry Ekwuruke: Sir, how would you succinctly define environment and environmental management?
Chief Victor: The term environment is all-encompassing. It is the entire surroundings of man, made up of both living and non-living components. Living components include plants and animals in their various forms, while non-living components include the air, water bodies, landscape, built up areas, infrastructures, etc. Environmental management simply refers to man’s application of scientific, technical and social knowledge and skills in managing all components of the environment to ensure that the environment is not stressed beyond its productive capacity at any given time. The concept of managing the environment such that it can continue to provide basic needs and services for the present and future generations is referred to as sustainable environmental management.
H: What are the challenges you contend with and how do you cope with them?
CV: They are lots of challenges in the task of managing the environment. Generally, people tend to look at the environment as God-given and feel that there is no need to care for it. In the struggle for survival and development, man creates a lot of negative impacts on the environment. These impacts range from over-exploitation of resources, destruction of ecosystem, to air and water pollution problems. For instance, deforestation, indiscriminate bush burning, land mass clearing for agriculture or for urban development and mining activities can all lead to soil erosion, flooding and water pollution. On the other hand, gaseous emission and discharge of effluents from manufacturing industries can cause serious pollution of air and water. Severe soil erosion can impoverish rich land, resulting in poor agricultural yield while water pollution can negatively affect fish production in our rivers. In Lagos, for example, people talk about “odo alaro”(meaning purpled- coloured river). This is as a result of liquid waste discharged from neighbouring industrial plants into the river, which change the colour and chemical composition of the river, thereby making it inhabitable for many aquatic organisms.
A common challenge in our cities is the problem of solid waste management as most parts of our urban centres are littered with heaps of dirt. Oftentimes, the drainage systems are blocked, resulting in flooding of many access roads. Sources of urban wastes include homes, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, markets, motor-parks, and commuters in moving vehicles. Littering with nylon and sweet wrappers […] are a common sight in urban streets. In Singapore you would not see sweet wrappers; sweets are adorned with flowers.
Urban waste management demands a lot of financial input for the provision of appropriate machinery and manpower requirement, which the government most often cannot afford. The people on their part, have not shown the required commitment towards integrated waste management strategies, which includes waste reduction, sorting, recycling and responsible behaviour along our streets.
H: What are your prospects?
CV: Our prospect is to have a Nigerian population that is adequately aware of our environmental problems and also sees the need to address these problems collectively. We want to be able to encourage participation of all stakeholders in the task of environmental management, developers, the civil society, non-governmental organizations, communities, special interest groups (women and youths) etc. In particular, greater emphasis is being placed on community participation because the local communities are the main custodians of our environmental resources. It is in this regard that we have initiated a number of community-based projects such as the Community Herbal Heritage Centres, which has now been spread across the various ecological zones in Nigeria.
For example, to be able to participate effectively in the business of environmental management, they need to have access to credible information about the status, problems and prospects of our environment as well as strategies for addressing the problems. In this regard, we have developed a national strategy for environmental education and public awareness while we have also put in place appropriate structure for facilitating public access to environmental information in Nigeria. We now have environmental conservation clubs in many of our schools while we also have Desk Officers for environment information delivery in all states of the federation.
H: Sir, what is the government’s attitude to the implementation of the various indigenous rational policies regarding the environment?
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Henry Ekwuruke is Executive Director of the Development Generation Africa International.
adham tobail Adham Tobail
| Jun 30th, 2008
Protecting the environment mean a lot
It means protecting agriculture and agricultural products, trees and plants
The mean cleaner cities, villages and street
The mean cleaner products anthropogenic
The mean beautiful homes
The mean clean water
The mean clean soil
The mean life clean
The term environment and a large mosque and respect in all walks of life
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