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Creating something from nothing in Nigeria

Written by Tearfund | 10 Jan 2020

Communities in Nigeria are tired of living among mountains of plastic waste. They are leading the way in finding innovative solutions to the crisis.

Living in areas where plastic waste is dumped can be dangerous. Every 30 seconds someone in the world dies because of diseases caused by plastic pollution and other waste.

In a community in the north-east of Nigeria, young people have been increasingly unhappy with how waste is being managed. There is a huge site in the city centre where plastic waste is openly dumped. None of it is sorted or reused.

Large informal dumpsites pose a direct risk to people’s health, as well as polluting water and soil and entering the food chain.

Getting creative
To help tackle these problems, Tearfund’s local partners have been training churches and youth groups so they can play their part in solving the pollution problem.

Musa*, one of the young people who lives in the community, has been inspired by the training to look at how plastic can be reused for good. He recycled old plastic bottles to create tumblers for drinking and gave them to a friend to use at a primary school competition. This attracted the attention of a local businessman, who saw the positive impact the idea could have.

The businessman got in touch with Musa and commissioned him to make more tumblers. Musa was able to produce 22, and felt extremely rewarded, as the income he made from doing this was entirely generated from waste.

Change is here
As Tearfund’s partners continue to work alongside churches and communities in Nigeria, even more people are beginning to change their habits and their mindsets to tackle the rubbish problem. People like Abiona and Hanatu, who took part in the training by Tearfund’s partners.

‘Previously, I often threw my household’s garbage on the streets. Now, I do not. My house has a dustbin and I dispose of it in a collection pushcart,’ Abiona shares.

Hanatu has also had a change of heart and now looks at how she can reuse and recycle. ‘Before now, I had little or no knowledge that something good can come out from waste,’ she says. ‘But now, I realise that nothing is a waste unless you intentionally make it so.’

Churches in the area are now looking at other ways they can help tackle waste management in the community. This will help local people earn a sustainable income as well as taking action against the waste problem.


Thank you God for the people in Nigeria who are rising up to reduce plastic pollution. We pray for more initiatives and jobs that will tackle waste management, help local people to earn an income and make their communities healthier places in which to live. Amen.

*All names have been changed to protect identities

Written by

Written by  Tearfund

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