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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Water institute sets modalities for bio-circular economy

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) has set up modalities for Nigeria to use solid waste from the agriculture, water, sanitation and energy sources for economic development.

Dr Boluwaji Onabolu
Dr Boluwaji Onabolu

Dr Boluwaji Onabolu, IWMI Lead Consultant, said this at the stakeholders engagement workshop on “Assessment of the Investment Climate for Bio-Circular Economy in Nigeria”.

Bio-Circular Economy uses renewable biological resources from land and sea, such as crops, forests, fish, animals and micro-organisms, to produce food, health, materials, products, textiles and energy.

According to her, Nigeria has the potential to turn around its economic growth with huge investments and opportunities in the environment, sanitation, water, and agriculture sectors.

She said the rising global demand for water, food, and energy, in the context of a growing deficit and competing uses, reinforced the need for more investments in circular economy approaches.

She said the institute was assessing the investment climate for businesses so as to promote a circular economy in which nothing is put into waste.

She described investing in Resource Recovery and Reuse (RRR) businesses in Nigeria as a potential pathway to sustainable economic development, saying the institute was convinced that stakeholders’ participation would make a huge impact.

“We have learnt about studies that revealed that 183 million Nigerians do not have access to clean energy, so this is why IWMI has facilitated this workshop.

“We will have answers to some of the questions, why is it that these businesses like changing solid wastes into energy forms like biogas, and why is it that they are not able to sustain their growth?” 

Prof. Olumuyiwa Jayeoba, President, Association of Deans of Agriculture in Nigeria, said many opportunities abound in the agriculture value chain.

Jayeoba said if Nigeria managed climate change and its impact well, it would have an advantage in the agricultural sector.

He said climate smart agriculture would sustainably increase productivity and income, and attainment of the National Food Security and Development Goals.

He said an effective approach in climate smart agriculture would also strengthen the country’s resilience to climate change and variability.

Also speaking, Dr Chimere Ohajinwa, noted that the impact of climate change in the environment was evident in extreme weather conditions, drought conditions, affecting the attainment of the sustainable development goals.

Ohajinwa said Nigeria faced significant waste management challenges, with increasing volumes of solid waste generated in urban areas.

She said the RRR approaches emphasised proper waste segregation, collection, and recycling.

“Establishing efficient recycling facilities and promoting community-based recycling initiatives can help recover valuable materials such as plastics, paper, glass, and metals.

“This creates employment opportunities in waste collection, sorting, and recycling industries, contributing to economic growth,” she said.

Speaking on circular bio-economy, the environmental expert said it emphasised the use of renewable natural capital and focused on minimising waste, so as to meet the sustainable development goals by 2030.

Ms. Nneka Akunwa, a sanitation and hygiene expert, said Nigeria has a huge market for sanitation products and services.

According to her, half of Nigeria’s population, about 111 million people, do not have a decent toilet of their own, lacking basic or safely managed sanitation.

“One in every four Nigerians are practicing open defecation, and a reasonable amount of untreated human waste ends up in the environment, threatening people’s health and degrading ecosystems.

“Imagine the business opportunities that are available in the sector if toilet business owners come on board.”

IWMI has inaugurated a Nigerian assessment which is being conducted from February to May in collaboration with the Federal Government.

The findings will be used as a basis to design context-appropriate policies and strategies that can address the bottlenecks and increase RRR business attractiveness for investments.

By Tosin Kolade

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