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Environmental clean-up engenders community empowerment, say stakeholders

Stakeholders at the Alpha Beach, Lekki in Lagos clean-up exercise on Saturday, March 27, 2021 said that environmental sanitation, waste collection, sorting and recycling would translate to community empowerment.

Elegushi beach
A Lagos beach

The stakeholders spoke during the exercise promoted by Sterling One Foundation.

Ms Olabeju Ibekwe, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sterling One Foundation, said that cleaning of beaches would empower  communities on the coastline.

”Those who will ensure that our communities are cleaned are youths and women living within these communities,” Ibekwe said.

She that the exercise was not mere clean-up but a project that would address at least seven of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN.

Ibekwe listed the goals to include eradication of poverty and hunger, achieving good health and well-being, achieving sustainable cities and communities, and gender equality.

She said that the foundation was looking for more partners to drive the project.

According to her, micro plastics have negative health implications on humans if they find their way into fishes consumed by humans.

Ibekwe said that collaborative efforts would be required to ensure that Nigerians would live healthier in a more caring and sustainable environment.

“This beach will be adopted and cleaned throughout the year, and we are going to be adopting more beaches in the course of the year.

“We believe it is a drop in the ocean. It will cause some ripples and the ripples will go far to ensure that our coastlines and beaches are comparable to the best in the world,” Ibekwe said.

On the sustainability of the project, Ibekwe said that funds realised from recycled  wastes would be used to sustain the project.

She described Sterling One Foundation as investors in giving.ng – the crowd raising platform on which funds for the project were raised.

She explained  that the project was spearheaded by Mr Abubakar Sulaiman, Managing Director of Sterling Bank Plc. in his personal capacity, and set up on giving.ng.

A key partner in the project, Sterling Bank, represented by Mr Lanre Olelesi of its Corporate and Investment Banking Unit, said that the bank was committed to environmental clean-up.

”We have to make sure we invest in the environment because this is the only place that we know. There is no other place that we can live in.

“We need to continue to invest and care for the environment, and the environment will in turn take care of us, ” Olalesi said.

Mr Akambi Williams, Director, International Ocean Institute (IOI), Nigeria, expressed delight that awareness on beach clean-up had been on the increase globally.

Williams noted that many non-governmental organisations were championing activities on waste reduction through recycling.

He hailed the Lagos State Government for putting structures on ground for effective waste management.

Williams appealed to Nigerians to be mindful of the way they disposed wastes, especially plastic, noting that it could take hundreds of years for plastic to decompose.

Mr Taiwo Adewole, Executive Director, RecyclePoints, expressed happiness in taking part in the clean-up.

“I am very happy to be part of this initiative as a recycler because this is not just a clean-up, but a clean-up that leads to empowerment,” Adewole said.

He said that the members of the coastline community would be thought the culture of effective waste management that would earn them money in return for every recyclable plastic picked.

According to him, Lagos boasts of over 40 recyclers whose raw materials are derived from wastes picked from the environment.

Mr Alexander Akhigbe, CEO, African Clean up Initiatives (ACI), said: “Our focus is on the cleanliness of beaches so that fishes found in them will not end up consuming our plastics.

Akhigbe said that the responsibility in ensuring that wastes would not find their ways into the beaches rests on all Nigerians.

According to him, ACI has been given the responsibility to clean-up Alpha Beach for one year because of its receiving track record.

“ACI will be working with Alpha Beach on a monthly basis to ensure that it is clean and remains clean for the rest of the partnership that it has with Sterling One Foundation,” Akhigbe said.

He called on the citizens to show care for the environment by keeping it clean at all times.

By Fabian Ekeruche

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