Drainage blockage is one of the primary causes of environmental pollution and flooding in the urban centres of Nigeria. This blockage is caused by a lot of factors ranging from improper disposal of wastes to ineffective drainage management practices. Until proper environmental sanitation measures are put in place, the issues of persistent environmental pollution and flooding may not disappear any time soon.
It is understood that flooding is quite a global problem due to climate change and other man made factors. But the will of the people to play their part is sacrosanct in ensuring a safe and healthy environment.
It is a fact that unlike fighting fire, flooding cannot be fought but perhaps, can be controlled or better still, prevented. Flooding is controlled by different methods including planting of vegetation, terracing hillsides to slow down the flow of water downhill, and construction of drainage channels.
In Nigeria, almost every urban road constructed is provided with drainage channels along its bank. These channels are meant to take care of the excess run off during rainfall and waste water from homes, markets and industries. In urban centres, minor “gutters” are interconnected to empty into wider channels or canal. These canals in turn carries storm and waste water to a river or ocean, as the case may be. Well, engineers design drainage channels utilizing the worst possible condition in order to cater to an extent for cases of unplanned or unforeseen occurrences of rainfall, other forms of precipitation and waste water for a period of time. This goes to imply that a large percentage if not all of the drainage channels built are efficient enough to cater for the flood control needs of an area for a given period of time. But when these channels are hindered by blockages, their efficiency based on initial design is greatly reduced.
How do we play our part as a community to ensure that man made factors (indiscriminate disposal of wastes) known to be capable of reducing the efficiency of the drainage thereby giving rise to flooding and environmental pollution is reduced to its barest minimum if not totally eliminated.
Separation of wastes from point of generation
There is a need for waste separation. Biodegradable wastes and non biodegradable wastes should be separated at the points of generation; homes. If wastes are properly separated, then the first step to waste management has been set in motion. Bottles, polythene bags etc are non biodegradable and should be separated from food wastes. Also metal wastes.
There are certain used containers that are recyclable. If the wastes has already been separated, then the recyclable ones like most cans and bottles can be sent for recycling. There are hundreds of locals who make a living from buying recyclable waste materials for a token, help them stay in business; sell it!. It is clear that most of the wastes which cause drainage channel blockages are the non biodegradable ones.
Periodic clearing of Drainage
This seems to be the most publicized public sanitation technique in Nigeria. Though this method appears good and beneficial but often times the debris cleared from the “gutters” are left lying on the streets. Soon after, feet and vehicle wheels trample these debris and eventually sends them back to the drainage. A case of “penny wise pound foolish”. Why are the gutters being cleared if there is no plan to move the contents to a dumpsite? However, I strongly believe it is the government’s duty to keep the environment safe for the populace, so as the communities come together to clear their drainage, government should be ready to provide a synergy so that the wastes are not left lying on the streets and further polluting the environment.
Proper disposal of household generated waste
Wastes don’t get into drainage channels by mistake. The fact is, it is quite deliberate. People actually dump household generated wastes into gutters and canals. The reason is not far fetched. They believe when water flows through, it will drag the wastes away. But the question is, drag it to where?
They say “little drops make an ocean”. Little drop of waste along the canal by one person, two persons grows to become a gargantuan menace over time and this leads to blockage of canals.
We are hopeful of a time when the government will deploy viable and sustainable technology and other advanced methods in order to manage wastes and promote a healthy environment but until then; If we don’t take care of our environment, who will?
Climate change may appear to be over us, but environmental pollution will continue to live with us and endanger us until we stop contributing to it’s growth.