The value of having well-managed waterways cannot be overemphasized especially in a developing country like Nigeria. Nigeria is blessed with a vast body of water ranging from beaches, lakes, rivers, creeks streams to wetlands. All these water bodies contribute directly and indirectly to the nation’s economy such as the source of income, livelihood, transportation, ecotourism etc. But there is an increasing rate of water pollution nationwide and if no mitigation is considered can have a long-lasting effect and damage of environmental health, nation’s economy and human health/survival. Lagos Lagoon WaterKeeper has one mission of working to ensure the populations have access to swimmable, fishable and drinkable water.
One of our efforts in the previous month, September 2019 was a ‘beach cleanup exercise’. We organized a beach cleanup in partnership with U-recycle Initiative Nigeria, at Akodo Beach, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos. There are a number of communities surrounding the entire Ibeju-Lekki and this beach community was targeted for our cleanup exercise because from our survey, it is the dirtiest community. After our survey with the help of a local volunteer, we communicated our intentions to the Community head commonly called ‘Baale’ (Nigeria local language, Yoruba). This was done to pre-inform and notify them of our proposed activities which they agreed with after much orientation.
We set out to the beach very early that morning though there was a light shower. We got there in good time and had a little sensitization for the local authority and few coastal dwellers that live directly by the shore. We discussed who we are, our purpose, why we care, the essence of having clean water and how they can be good ambassadors of clean water.
They showed our team round the shoreline and we could note already the various sources of pollution and major pollutants. We kitted up and mapped out a portion of the coast to clean since the beach was really dirty and it wasn’t a project we could pull off in one day. Few kids from the community that were inspired joined in the exercise and together we recovered few kilograms of solid waste from getting washed into the ocean. From our results, we concluded the community is facing 2 major challenges: open defecation and improper waste disposal.
The issue of open defecation is more of a behavioural trend, though few of the houses in the community do not have toilet system. I personally observed adults of around age 35-45 defecating on the shoreline with no feeling of remorse; the young ones are left with no choice than to emulate. This is a common practice among the beach community. The solid waste consists of majorly plastic bottles in different sizes. The water comes to the shore, washes the waste and poop into the water body.
The cleanup was exhausting but successful. We have shown our face to the community, established a relationship with the authority. We hope to leverage on this to properly harness our #cleanakodobeach project. The project will be focused on proper waste management and turning the dirty Akodo beach to a centre of attraction for tourism. Also, the iconic sea turtle can come to lay her eggs on the beach and return safely to the water without being entangled by waste, dumped fishing nets that later gets into water body while the eggs incubate safely too. The whole project is for the benefit of the community, to help them have access to swimmable and fishable water.
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