Rubbish here, rubbish there. If the thought of how cities in Nigeria could become litter free gives you headache. Pause and try again. This time around, think about it knowing that Kigali is a success story.
I was in Rwanda for a rather different reason but I found myself at an agriculture show. This type of event is a big deal for me and in Kigali, I found additional motivation:
First, roads in this capital city are not littered with all kinds of wastes. Did I take time out to move around? Yes I did. Asides from taking public buses from place to place, I also trekked to more than a few places with my friends yet it was hard to believe. Even alleys and streets that are not paved were equally clean.
Guess what? My Rwandan friends told me that monthly cleanup exercises are key contributors to Kigali’s sanitary environment. Even though, ironically, such activities happen in cities in Nigeria, for Rwandans however, I found out that it is not merely monthly cleanups; it is a ‘coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome’ aka Umuganda.
Now, do I need to say more?
Secondly, here is what happens when I make purchases in shops: My items are wrapped and packed in paper bags. Seriously, not leather bags but biodegradable paper bags! Somewhat inquisitive, I also bought indigenous fruits from street hawkers and local traders and those too were packed in paper bags.
Allow me please, in case you did not know. Like other African countries polythene bags were prevalent in Rwanda until 2008, when Paul Kigame’s government took the bull by its horns and ban them.
Thirdly, I asked my Rwandan friends to tell me the penalties for non-compliance and there was silence for a minute or two. Whether it is because Nigerians tend to be quite direct with their questions or it is because they were not quite prepared for such a question, I could not tell. However, there was something about the way they looked at me. As if to say ‘isn’t this the right thing to do?’
So, at the agriculture show, I anticipated the chance to meet with some players in municipal wastes management systems. And I did! As I walked into ECOPlastic booth, going from one display spot to the next, one company staff talked me through various manufacturing processes, operations and products.
Many thanks to Sabine & Felix, Stella, Francis, Tade, Philbert and Mathias – you made this trip absolutely worthwhile!
Photo credit; Tade & Ademola Olaniran