Most African countries would not be able to meet the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), unless issues relating to sanitation and waste management were tackled.
The Director of Basel Convention Regional Co-ordinating Centre for Africa based in Nigeria, Professor Oladele Osibanjor, said waste management was a cross-cutting issue that had consequences for all the eight MDGs.
The MDGs aim at halving extreme poverty as well as curb the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015.
“How can we eradicate poverty and hunger, when people still scavenged rubbish dumps for a livelihood, children use the dump as a play ground and hospitals dump their waste at the same grounds used by the general public,” he asked.
He was speaking at a three-day workshop on waste management in Africa.
The three-day workshop is being organized by the United Nations University's Institute of Natural Resource in Africa and International Leadership Institute for participants across Africa.
Prof. Osibanjor said the general waste produced by most households were not that harmful, but because developed countries had decided to use Africa as dumping grounds for most of their electronic and electrical waste in disguise, the waste being generated in recent times were harmful because they had a lot of toxic substances.
“Most African nations have become dumping ground for used phones, computers, batteries, tyres and other gadgets that have hazardous substances and needed to be disposed off properly and not in the way that was presently being handled by most African countries,” he said.
Prof. Osibanjor said most African countries were not practicing waste management but rather waste disposal, because till date, there was no sorting out and neither was the waste converted into any profitable venture but mixed up and dumped at a particular site.
Mr Poku Adusei, Deputy Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment said metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDA) spent over 15 per cent of their District Assemblies Common Funds and their internally generated funds on managing waste generated in their communities.
He said in addition to that government supported most MMDA with monies from the HIPC Funds and other donor contributions for the management of waste.
Mr Adusei said though the Ministry had the mandate for ensuring sound waste management, achieving the goal required the collective effort of all, including the private sector and academia.