WHY CITIZENS OWNERSHIP IS KEY TO ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
By Evelyn Unuigbe
Environmental sustainability can only be guaranteed if various practical measures are put in place to have a clean, safe and healthy environment. It is the responsibility of all and sundry to conserve our natural environment and protect the global ecosystem in order to support health and wellbeing for the present and future generations. Our environment does not only imply where we live; it is also concerned about the way we interact with nature’s gifts to mankind, like trees, rivers, plants, forest, animals and lakes.
As citizens or residents of Edo State, it is our responsibility to take ownership of our environment by engaging in healthy practices that will help to mitigate the effects of environmental challenges. According to Edo State Sanitation and Pollution Management Law, “Every person shall clean and maintain any drain in the frontage, sides or rear of his tenement or building; and provide suitable holding tank for liquid waste or sewage, and ensure regular evacuation and disposal of same.” There is the also need to beautify our environment by planting grasses, ornamentals and trees, as they help to trap carbon in the air and reduce erosion and pollution in our water ways.
Residents of Edo can also take ownership by separating their wastes before disposal. It can take various forms, like separating plastics from degradable waste for recycling because it helps to reduce the menace of plastic pollution in the ecosystem. Edo State Government has put a lot of measures in place to mitigate these problems, and to ensure our environment is sustained, but we need to bear in mind that all these measures can only yield the desired results, if we take full responsibility for our actions. The ‘Clean and Green’ project, established by Governor Godwin Obaseki’s administration, encourages residents to keep their environment clean, and to plant trees, grasses and ornamental plants to beautify, purify the air and mitigate against climate change and soil erosion.The Edo State Government has also set up the Edo State Forestry Commission to solely take charge of the regeneration and conservation of the forest resources, due to the importance of trees in reducing the effects of climate change.
Similarly, the State Government in partnership with Association Bernadette Strebel has regenerated over 400 hectares of degraded forest reserves, just as it is also partnering with Rongtai Wood Company to plant 10 million trees in ten years. To monitor the air quality in the State, the Government has purchased ‘purple air quality sensor’ which helps to give the concentration of particulate matter in the air.This equipment helps to collect data on the air quality index in a particular environment to ensure that residents breathe in clean air, and this equipment is located in different areas of the State.To reduce the menace of Plastic and Aluminum Can Wastes, the State Government has evolved e-Trash programme, an initiative to check such waste. E-Trash which stands for Electronic Transaction in Waste resources is the first of its kind in Nigeria, and it is anchored on an App called PikAmSel. PikAmSel is an end-to-end digital system with automatic management of an associated reward system, offering instant reward via direct bank transfer, telephone airtime crediting and gifting of accumulated points to a third party via a mass participatory redemption scheme.The reward system by e-trash will help to promote a culture of proper waste segregation by individuals, as well as proper disposal and management of plastic waste in Nigeria.
As a way of catching them young, there was an inauguration of environmental clubs in secondary schools across the State to enlighten and educate the young ones on the need to protect, preserve and nourish the earth, and to be ambassadors of a healthy environment. We all need to make conscious efforts to reverse these negative effects, and prevent further damage to the environment, as we have a duty to develop, maintain and secure healthy environmental practices. This is the only sure way we can bequeath a sustainable environment to generations yet unborn. Let us bear in mind that there is only one earth we have to live in, and we have no choice, but to maintain it. Therefore, let us support the efforts of Governor Godwin Obaseki to sustain our environment and make Edo Great Again.