M Ifeoma, O U, E Nkiru, O N, A E.
awka nigeria., household. solid waste. management
M Ifeoma, O U, E Nkiru, O N, A E.. Public Health Implication Of Household Solid Waste Management In Awka South East Nigeria.. The Internet Journal of Public Health. 2009 Volume 1 Number 1.
Household solid waste is one of the most difficult sources of solid waste to manage because of its diverse range of composite materials1. A substantial portion is made up of garbage, a term for the waste matter that arises from the preparation, and consumption of food and consists of waste food, vegetable peelings and other organic matter2. Other components of household solid waste include plastics, paper, glass, textiles, cellophane, metals and some hazardous waste from household products such as paint, garden pesticides, pharmaceuticals, fluorescent tubes, personal care products, batteries containing heavy metals and discarded wood treated with dangerous substances3 such as anti-fungal and anti-termite chemicals.
Poor waste handling practices and inadequate provision of solid waste management facilities in cities of developing countries results in indiscriminate disposal and unsanitary environments that pose a threat to the health of urban residents4. Improper handling, storage and disposal of wastes are major causes of environmental pollution, which provides breeding grounds for pathogenic organisms and encourages the spread of infectious diseases. For instance in Accra, Ghana, the presence of houseflies in the kitchen during cooking correlated with the incidence of childhood diarrhoea. In addition, an association was found between waste burning and the incidence of respiratory health symptoms among adults and children4.
Ensuring that waste generated in the home is properly stored and promptly picked up for proper disposal will help in reducing the incidence of infectious diseases in our urban areas. Identifying areas of deficiency and planning strategies at addressing these deficiencies will help achieve sound environmental health. The study was aimed to ascertain the waste handling knowledge, attitude and practices among households in Awka, Nigeria, with a view to identifying such areas of deficiency and recommending appropriate interventions.
This was a cross-sectional, descriptive study. A sample size of 200 households was obtained using a multi-staged random sampling technique from among households in Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria. Awka is divided into two zones by the Anambra State Environmental Protection Agency (ANSEPA) and each zone comprises sixteen villages. Four villages were randomly selected for the study, two from each zone. In each village, four areas were randomly selected and 50 households were selected by cluster sampling from each area giving a total of 200 households.
The tool employed was an interviewer-administered questionnaire which was pretested for comprehensibility, language appropriateness and average duration for administration. Verbal consent was obtained from each respondent before the questionnaire was administered. Respondents were individuals identified as leaders in the households.
The SPSS 11.0 for windows5 was used for data entry. Frequency distribution tables and charts were generated for the variables.
Of the 200 households, 144 resided in 3-bedroom quarters either flats or bungalows, 31 in single room apartments, 18 in two rooms while the remaining 7 households lived in houses that had more than three rooms (Table1). 112 of the households were made up of 5-6 persons (56%), followed by a family size of 3-4 persons in 40 of the households (20%) (Table 2).
The commonest type of waste generated was garbage (100%), followed by cellophane bags (99%), plastics and paper (59%). Less than half of the respondents (43.5%) agreed to generating glass and metal (Table 3). 194 of the households owned a receptacle for storing their solid waste (97%) (Table 4) of which 158 (81.5%) preferred plastic bins, 21 (10.8%) metal bins while 15 (7.8%) used cellophane bags (Table 5).
Further evaluation showed that 83.5% covered their waste bin while 13.5% did not and that most kept the bin or bag outside the house while only 8% kept theirs inside in the kitchen.
Most of the households (87.5%) did not sort their solid waste prior to disposal. Furthermore, only 9 households were served with door-to-door collection of their waste by ANSEPA while 137 were able to take theirs to the ANSEPA truck/tipper as it moved around their neighbourhood. 39 households disposed of their waste at community dump sites. The others disposed of theirs on the streets, in the gutters and other waterways especially when it rained (Table 6).
This study showed that majority of the respondents (95%) had knowledge of recycling of waste. Plastic was the best-known recyclable material among the respondents (59%) followed by paper (21.5%), and glass (13.5%). Most of the households did not recycle their solid waste (75%), others deposited theirs in recycling cages (12.6%), sold their plastic containers, empty bottles and scrap metal (3.5%) or gave them to the poor (1.5%).
55.5% of the respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the disposal of their solid waste by ANSEPA while 42.5% thought ANSEPA was doing a good job. Suggestions on ways to improve solid waste management included payment of fines for indiscriminate disposal (63%), payment of fees for collection by ANSEPA (49%), and massive educational campaigns (4%) (Table 7).
In this study, more than half of the households (56%) were made up of large families of 5-6 persons while 16% had family sizes of more than 7 persons. This may suggest that the larger a household, the more solid waste is generated.
Putrescible matter constituted the bulk of the household waste generated by the respondents while glass and metals (cans, bottle corks e.t.c.) formed the smallest portion. This result is similar to that found in Markudi6 another rapidly growing urban area in Nigeria. A similar trend was also reported in Gaborone, Botswana whereby the putrescible waste fraction constituted the highest proportion of the waste stream at approximately 68%.
This study showed that majority of the households (83.5%) stored their waste in closed containers. In Accra, Ghana however, majority of the households stored their waste in open containers and plastic bags in the home7. Furthermore, in Accra it was found that over 80% of the population does not have home collection services7. In contrast, in this study 72% had home collection service of which only 4.5% had the environmental agency actually pick up their waste at their door while 68.5% went out to the truck or tipper to dump theirs. Reasons for these findings may include lack of motivation on the part of environmental workers, inadequate manpower and financial support and lack of involvement of the private sector in waste management.
Many of the households disposed of their waste at communal dump sites, on the streets, in the gutters and other waterways and drains. This is worrisome as the communal dump sites encourage proliferation of houseflies, mosquitoes, rats and other vermin and aid in the spread of infectious diseases with a serious public health concern. In addition, they give off bad smells and generally constitute a nuisance to the environment. Dumping of waste in the gutters and drains causes flooding by blocking water routes especially in the rainy season. Efforts directed at mass health education campaigns on the harmful effects of indiscriminate disposal of waste and the provision of adequate home collection services by both the public and private sectors should correct these problems.
An impressive finding in this study was the knowledge of recycling of waste. An overwhelming majority of the respondents (95%) had knowledge of recycling and were able to mention recyclable material. Plastic was best known to them (59%), followed by paper (21.5%), and glass (13.5%). Despite this knowledge, 75% of the households did not reuse or recycle their solid waste and few (13.5%) among those who recycled derived some financial benefit from it by selling to scavengers. This pattern is likely to be the reason why most of the households did not sort and separate their waste prior to disposal. It may be due to poor knowledge of the benefits of recycling such as resource conservation, savings in waste management costs and landfill avoidance costs8. These savings are increased if individual households separate at source their recyclables which are bought by scavengers8.
The data showed that more than half of the respondents were dissatisfied with the management capabilities of the existing waste management system. Some of the suggestions by the respondents on ways to improve waste management are factors that should be examined. In addition, involvement of the private sector in waste management may also help.
This study has demonstrated that information on the hazards of improper solid waste management and the services provided for disposal in Awka are likely to be inadequate as shown by the ways the households disposed of their solid waste. Combined with these is the poor recycling culture of Awka residents. Strategies to improve household solid waste management in Awka must take into consideration these identified deficiencies with a view to increasing knowledge of the health and environmental implications of solid waste management amongst the populace, encouraging community participation in waste management whereby the community have a sense of responsibility towards their health and environment, improving government involvement through provision of adequate money, materials and manpower, and creating an enabling environment for private investment in solid waste management including recycling activities. Steps taken in these directions should help achieve safe sanitary conditions in Awka and reduce preventable public health diseases.