By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah,
About 520 scavengers have benefitted from an empowerment programme aimed at providing financial literacy, general hygiene, standards and regulations in Waste Picking in the FCT.
The 2-day programme at Hulumi dumpsite, close to Idu rail station, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was organised by the Initiative for the Advancement of Waste Management in Africa (W.A.S.T.E Africa).
The empowerment programme tagged “Protect 10,000 Initiative”, is a pro-poor social inclusion program for 10,000 waste pickers in FCT.
It also aim to prepare them to have access to good medication and decent accommodation.
After training, the scavengers got free Personal Protector Equipment (PPEs) and bank account opened with Jaiz Bank.
In an interview, Project Manager of WASTE Africa, Ms. Odhikoye Juliet, said the Initiative is borne out of desire to enhance the general well being of the waste pickers.
She described their living and working condition as deplorable.
According to her ”We did epic research and we discovered that there are over 10,000 waste pickers in Abuja.
”So, we came up with this initiative to reach out to at least 10,000 waste pickers in Abuja. We realized that most of the waste recovery and recycling that is happening here is done by the waste pickers.
”But are the most oppressed in Abuja, they are most marginalized. Their living and working condition are deplorable. You can’t picture it at all.
”So, we decided to a kind of giving them a financial literacy training, tell them the important of saving and then we are going to open bank accounts for them, so as they pick wastes, they will have a kind of saving, get better accommodation.
”And we will also be providing them with PTE, and identity cards. So if they are moving around the city, they will have a kind of means of identification, to show their profession, which we go a long way to protect them from harassment.
”We realized that many of the have injuries with various degree of cut from their working activities. That is basically the objective of this initiative. And it is also a way of fulfilling part of our social responsibility to them.”
”Their value is in mass, if you look around you see the heaps of plastic bottles, metal, everything, they pick them. You realize that if these wastes are not recovered, the whole city of Abuja would become inhabitable.
”You know Nigerians have the culture of consuming of the beverages and can foods; these things are littered all over the places.
”So, these guys are the people helping us to recover the waste that we thrown away, so those we thing we considered waste they consider as resource and help us to recover them. So, their value is really really important.
”They are living in shanties inside the dumpsite and in close proximity to dumpsite. And there are over 8,000 waste pickers here in this dumpsite alone. And the accommodations are really really few, which mean they are living been packed together.
”And they are exposed to cuts, exposed to difference kinds of injuries. And most of them don’t even know the importance of basic of first aid.
”So, you discovered most of them are dying from simple cuts.
”Now, one of the things we are doing is to partner with Dagomo Foundation to come around today to gave them free basic first aid training and do a kind of health check on them as well.
”And one other thing we found is, because they are living in this kind of environment, they are used to it, they are comfortable with it. And telling them the environment is not safe, they don’t feel it anymore.
”They will tell you we are Africans, dirty don’t kill Africa man. So, we are just here to educate them, if there is a better way to do it, but not inflicting injuries to themselves.
”The importance of wearing the safety boot, hand glove, reflective jacket.”
Speaking on the initiative, Mr. Aliyu Buhari, Head, Aggregators and Clusters Unit, MSMEs Department, Jaiz Bank said the is involved in the project to enhance sustainability and environmental health.
“We are trying cluster model to package a financial model that will support them.
Speaking on behalf of the recipients, Chairman, Scavengers, Hulumi Dumpsite, Abubakar Saleh commended the organizers.
He said their health and finances will improve with the awareness created.
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