Over 800 Scavengers in Hulumi dumpsite, by Idu rail station, Federal Capital Territory have received training to enhance their business.
The 2-day training organised by a non governmental Organization, Initiative for Advancement of Waste Management in Africa (W.A.S.T.E Africa) is to enable the scavengers improve standards, healthy practice and financial literacy.
WASTE Africa also donated personal protective equipments (PPEs) to the participants.
The programme was sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation and the Embassy of Switzerland, Abuja.
To encourage culture of savings, Bank account was also opened for the beneficiaries with Jaiz Bank.
The programme is part of efforts by WASTE Africa to rehabilitate and improve living standard of over 10,000 waste pickers in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
Speaking to journalists during the programme, the Project Manager WASTE Africa, Ms. Odhikori Juliet expressd grave concern over the living and working condition of the waste pickers which she described as deplorable.
According to her ”We did epic research and we discovered that there are over 10,000 waste pickers in Abuja.
”So, we came up with this initiative to reach out to at least 10,000 waste pickers in Abuja. We realized that most of the waste recovery and recycling that is happening here is done by the waste pickers.
”But they are the poorest in Abuja, they are most marginalized. Their living and working condition are deplorable.
”So, we decided to give them financial literacy training, tell them the importance of saving and then we are going to open bank accounts for them. So as they pick wastes, they will have savings and better accommodation.
”And we will also be providing them with PPEs and identity cards. So if they are moving around the city, they will have a means of identification, to show their profession, which will go a long way to protect them from harassment.
”We realized that many of them have injuries with various degree of cut from their working activities. That is basically the objective of this initiative. And it is also a way of fulfilling part of our social responsibility to them.”
”Their value is immense, if you look around you see the heaps of plastic bottles, metal, everything, they pick them. You realize that if these wastes are not recovered, the whole city of Abuja would become uninhabitable.
”They are living in shanties inside the dumpsite and in close proximity to dumpsite. And there are over 800 waste pickers here in this dumpsite alone.
”And they are exposed to cuts, exposed to difference kinds of injuries. And most of them don’t even know the importance of basic first aid.
”Now, one of the things we are doing is to partner with Dagomo Foundation to come around today to gave them free basic first aid training and do a kind of health check on them as well.
”We are teaching them the importance of wearing the safety boot, hand gloves, reflective jacket.”
Speaking on the initiative, Mr. Aliyu Buhari, Head, Aggregators and Clusters Unit, MSMEs Department, Jaiz Bank said the Bank is involved in the project to enhance sustainability and environmental health.
“We are trying cluster model to package a financial model that will support them.
Speaking on behalf of the recipients, Chairman, Scavengers, Hulumi Dumpsite, Abubakar Saleh commended the organizers.
He said their health and finances will improve with the awareness created.
The representative of Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Pai, a Deputy-Director, commended WASTE Africa for the initiative.
He said it is in line with ongoing efforts by the government to make the FCT healthy for habitation.
Protective items distributed include safety boots, hand gloves, reflective jackets etc were distributed to them.