The Butterfly Garden

The words of Nathaniel Branden “The first step toward change is awareness” holds true for this fight against the triple planetary crisis – climate change crisis, pollution and biodiversity loss – as ignorance seems to be detrimental. Unaware individuals are less likely to mitigate and adapt to climate change or even adopt sustainable practices. The absence of an in-depth curriculum on the triple planetary crisis – climate crisis, pollution and biodiversity loss – its impact, and our role in mitigating it in most Nigerian schools further emphasizes the need for action.

To bridge this gap, we are transforming underutilized public school spaces into Butterfly Gardens and creating Environmental Clubs. We are building bridges, not just between flowers and butterflies, but between people and our planet. Research has shown that environmental education thrives when it takes place in a natural environment. It further revealed that immersing learners in nature’s classroom cultivates deeper understanding, sparks creative problem-solving, and cultivates a sense of responsibility towards our planet. By developing educational materials and programs that link the garden to broader environmental issues, we empower students to become informed and active citizens. This promotes environmental awareness, instills a sense of responsibility, and empowers the next generation to make informed decisions that contribute to a sustainable future.

Our goal is to spark curiosity in young minds by encouraging them to ask questions and seek answers while also developing an understanding of the problems facing the planet. Bringing about a generation empowered to make a difference, armed with knowledge, passion, and the unwavering belief that even the smallest actions can create the biggest change.

When children learn eco-friendly practices and climate action they are likely to influence their friends and families to adopt sustainable practices. Essentially, our strategy strengthens the global effort to combat climate change by not just educating but also ensuring the impact goes beyond the initial participants. Ultimately, this establishes a sense of shared responsibility amongst various age groups, and act as a bridge for intergenerational participation as the next generation are empowered through education and awareness to care for the environment.

Financial Literacy

Globally, only 1 in 3 adults are financially literate. This points to a staggering 3.5 billion adults, majority of whom live in developing economies, lacking basic understanding of fundamental financial concepts. Africa is the least financially literate of all continents with only Botswana surpassing 50% and others falling between 31% and 40%. Despite being Africa’s largest economy, only 26% of Nigerian adults are financially literate.1

Having a good financial knowledge is essential today, where numerous complex financial products are accessible to many people.1 Often, the consequences of financial illiteracy clearly underscores the importance of it.2 Financially illiterate individuals are generally prone to exploitation, higher costs, increased debt, poor investment decisions and credit issues.3 While financially literate individuals make wiser financial decisions and enhance their economic well-being and stability alongside their families. Thereby contributing to community vitality and promoting economic development. Demonstrating how financial literacy impacts not only personal finance but also community and society’s economic development.2

Furthermore, studies have shown that financial literacy enhances the capacity of individuals to manage money and lowers poverty both in the short-term and long-term.4 It also revealed that financial literacy have a direct effect in poverty reduction and an indirect effect via financial inclusion and entreprenuership.5-6

A study concludes that “Since financial resources are never enough and continuity of income stream cannot be guaranteed, empowering individuals with the knowledge and skills to make informed financial decisions that can help break the endless cycle of poverty caused by financial illiteracy is necessary.”6

Our Financial Literacy Project revolutionizes conventional methods to financial literacy. The project places a strong emphasis on practical application in addition to imparting knowledge to ensure that participants apply their financial skills in the real world. We seek to fill the gap between theoretical understanding and real-world application.

The project aims to provide them with a well-rounded understanding of financial concepts that will help them develop a sense of financial responsibility and accountability. It equips them to make long-term financial planning, improve their financial decision-making, develop an entrepreneurial mindset, develop financial resilience, leverage opportunities and eventually break the cycle of poverty.


  1. Global Financial Literacy Survey-Finlit_Report.pdf.
  2. Financial Education and Economic Development .pdf.
  3. Fanta, A. & Mutsonziwa, K. Financial Literacy as a Driver of Financial Inclusion in Kenya and Tanzania. J. Risk Finance. Manag. 14, 561 (2021).
  4. Assessing the  Impact  of  Financial Education  Programs- A  Quantitative  Model .pdf.
  5. Effect of Financial Literacy on Poverty Reduction Across Kenya,Tanzania, and Uganda.pdf.
  6. The Role of Financial Literacy in Poverty Reduction.pdf.
Waste Management In Nigeria: A Case For Responsible Citizen Involvement

Waste Management In Nigeria: A Case For Responsible Citizen Involvement


Waste generation could be said to be as old as human existence. Man’s survival requires that resources within the environment are exploited for human needs and the sustenance of life. In doing so, a number of waste materials are generated. Waste in itself refers to any substance which is no longer suitable for intended use[1]. Over the course of human existence, the type of waste generated have evolved from mostly organic material to significant amounts of nondegradable materials. The World Bank[2] estimates that in 2016, the world’s cities jointly generated about 2.01 billion tons of solid waste which amounts to about 0.74kg daily per capita. As populations grow, this number is expected to continue to rise. In fact, estimates suggest that by 2050, at least some 3.4 billion tons, a 70% increase from what was obtainable in 2016[3].

Plastics among other non-degradable makes up a significant chunk of these waste.  Generally, the amount of waste produced is influenced by a nations’ level of technological advancement, economic activity, consumption, and population growth (United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)[4]. Developed societies, like the USA and UK produce significantly large amounts of municipal solid waste (e.g., food wastes, packaged goods, disposable goods, used electronics) as well as commercial and industrial wastes (e.g., demolition debris, incineration residues, refinery sludges)[5]. Waste have generally far reaching consequences for life and the environment. Hence, the way these wastes are managed is of great importance. Even though the developed nations generate relatively more waste than the developing world, the reasonably developed waste management systems of the former allows for better mitigation of the waste hazards. In Nigeria, a major problem is the menace of polythene bags and other plastics that litter virtually every street without any significant system in place to tackle the problem. In this article, we will briefly highlight the current waste situation in Nigeria, the problems and how we feel this may be properly handled.

The Waste Situation

Of the 2.01 billion tonnes of solid waste generated globally in 2016[6], Nigeria generates an estimated 32 million tonnes (32 billion kilogram) of solid waste yearly; one of the highest in Africa, and a significant part being organic waste. The waste stream in Africa has a significantly high organic content compared to the global average. This is quite typical of a developing nation. However, one major waste stream of concern is the plastic waste. Global estimates show that about 10 million units of plastic bottles are discarded every 10 mins amounting to over 500 billion units per annum as well as another 5 trillion plastic bags annually with the oceans believed to receive at least 8 million tonnes of plastics annually[7]. Estimates show that an estimated 13% of the municipal solid waste generated in sub-Saharan Africa is plastic (Figure 1), the bulk of which is also dumped on the openly dumped on the land[8]. More so, of the 32 million tonnes of solid waste generated in Nigeria per annum, about 2.5 million tonnes (2.5 billion kilogram) is made up of plastics[9]. With this estimate, Nigeria is among the top 20 nations that contribute 83 per cent of the entire volume of land-based plastic waste that end up in the oceans. Estimates also suggest that about 200,000 tonnes (200 million kilogram) of discarded plastic waste from land-based sources in Nigeria end up in the Atlantic Ocean annually. Worrying about this is that about Fifty percent (50%) of these plastic and packaging waste are single-use disposable products which may not be reusable without further processing. It is quite common to see plastic bottles and containers being thrown on the ground, thrust out of vehicles, hipped around narrow passages or blown away by wind which litter the surroundings[10].  These huge amounts of plastic wastes indiscriminately discarded within our environment without any recourse to standard waste management practices have significant consequences for the sustainability of the environment and should thus be a thing of concern.

Figure 1: Municipal Solid Waste composition in sub-Saharan Africa and global; Source: Godfrey et. Al., 2020

The Risk

Generally, the amount of waste produced is highly determined by the level of technology, economic activity, consumption patterns and population of a particular area. Even though the developed nations generate relatively more solid waste than the developing world, the ability of the latter to reasonably manage the waste creates relatively less problems. Waste, when left unattended for a long time constitutes serious health hazard, causes offensive odour, pollutes underground water sources and decreases aesthetic appeal of the environment[11]. Globally, plastics and associated waste are estimated to be responsible for the death of between 20 to 30 percent of aquatic life. Some forecast suggest that there may be more plastics than fishes in the ocean by the year 2050 if the current rate of plastic waste generation is not stemmed[12]. This portends danger for aquatic life and even man. For instance, estimates by the African Development Bank (2019) show that over 100,000 aquatic animals die annually due to plastic pollution while plastic residues contaminate about 83% of underground water sources.  Of plastics, while 83 percent of underground portable water sources are contaminated with plastics residues.

The disposal of plastics into oceans and rivers also “leads to suffocation and entanglement of aquatic organisms like fishes, seabirds, turtles, mussels, crustaceans and sea mammals, while plastic ingestion could be so deadly” [13]. In addition, the indiscriminate dumping of especially in urban centers serves as breeding ground for several disease vectors and can result in cholera, malaria, typhoid fever, dengue fever and Zika. Ground water around dump sites are also at risk of contamination while the heaps of littered plastic debris put a dent on the aesthetic appeal of the environment. Moreover, a common site in Nigeria is the blockade of water ways and drainages with these plastics and polythene bags thereby resulting in flooding, environmental pollution and the attendant damage to various public and private facilities[14]. With Nigerian population currently at about 200 million and still projected to rise to about 260 million by 2030 (United Nations, 2021), this implies that waste generation will continue to increase and so will be the attendant risks. This notwithstanding, these challenges can be curtailed significantly with proper waste management[15].

Management System

Estimates show that over 90% of the waste generated in low-income countries end up in unregulated dumps or are openly burned (The World Bank, 2022). In Africa for instance, even though between 80% to 90% of the waste generated in Africa are recyclable, only about four percent pass through recycling.  In Africa, over 90% of the waste are disposed in both regulated and unregulated open dump sites[16] thus becoming an environmental disaster. Generally, only about 12% of plastic waste gets recycled in Nigeria. The remaining over 80% of these are disposed of either in landfills and on designated or undesignated open dump sites[17]. Some of these dumped openly are later burned leading to release of toxic gases into the atmosphere. This is a common practice in virtually every city in Nigeria as there are no significant strong regulations against such practice.

A 2020 UNEP report indicates that 29 African countries have implemented some form of partial or complete bans on the use of plastic bags either at the local or national level. From figure 2, we see that no such regulation exist in Nigeria [18]. Thus while public outcry against the use of plastics is increasing and may lead to further actions against plastics and other materials, Nigeria, the giant of Africa, which should lead the way may seem to be trailing behind (UNIDO, 2021).

Fig 2: African showing nations that have instituted bans on plastic bags (in dark blue); Source: Godfrey et. Al. 2020

In Nigeria, the funds, infrastructure, trained labor, and political willpower for any meaningful, robust waste management system are poor, insufficient, or lacking. 2020). For instance, Dunbili and Henderson (2020) posited that over half of the waste generated in Lagos “is left uncollected from the streets and the various locations due to the inadequacy and inefficiency of the waste management system’’. In most Nigerian cities, the use of open dumpsites is pervasive.

More so, Dunbili and Henderson (2020) estimates that only about 56% of the populace are served by the FCT Waste collection agency. More so, Nnaji[19] posited that about 80% of Nigerian cities are not properly served by waste collection services and the people are thus allowed to discard off as they deem fit. This situation is certainly not good for the nation and needs to be looked at. Across the nation, the usual general sanitations of the past where communities engage in general clean up is no longer being observed in majority of the states. All these exacerbates the already precarious situation we have. 

The Problem We See

The challenge with the waste management practices in many African nations especially Nigeria, is the adoption of the “top-bottom” approach in waste management where government is responsible for most of the waste management. Government seem to have virtually monopolized the management of waste and citizens’ responsibility is not being fully utilized. Bulk of the work which should lie in the hands of citizens and private institutions have been largely managed by government. Consequently, in a midst of scarce resources, “insufficiently trained workforce and/or inadequate waste management facilities”[20]. Besides, there’s little political will to introduce regulations or at least enforce those already in place. This has thus perpetuated the carefree (I don care) attitude of Nigerians towards indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste virtually everywhere they find suitable.

While state environmental agencies manage waste collection directly or through private contractors, the process of collection for reuse or recycling has been majorly left in the hands of the informal sector dominated by scavengers who collect waste and take to designated places for processing.  There appears to be no robust, well-coordinated management system that includes the citizens. The poor investment in the waste collection sector by the private sector also contributes in compounding the problem. These weak waste collection systems combined with open dumping and burning of waste continuously present economic, social and environmental impacts that have far reaching consequences.

The Three Rs of Waste Management

The three solid waste management strategies are the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycling) . This is a very effective way of controlling plastic waste in circulation. By reducing the use of plastics and making adjustments to how consumer products are packaged, this strategy can go a long way in tackling the plastic waste problem. Moreover, instead of just throwing plastics bags and bottles, households can improvise how to sanitize and reuse same for the benefit of the environment. This will however mostly come with some form of regulation or levies that can force companies to make adjustments to their packaging as well as discourage people from indiscriminate disposal of waste. Perhaps, the most important component in waste management especially as it concerns plastics is recycling. This has to do with reprocessing used plastics into conditions for them to be reused as originally intended or transforming them into other products. Lagos state, which suffers from perennial floods occasioned by blockade of drainages by plastics has been at the forefront of putting recycling systems in place with 50 recycling plant across the state. Other states include Kaduna, Kano, Edo and the FCT. This notwithstanding, the current top-bottom system has proven quite inadequate and probably needs overhauling. 

What We Suggest

Bottom-Top Approach

As presented above, governments of other African nations have taken practical steps in putting bans and special taxes for use of certain materials especially plastics. Unfortunately, there is no current regulation restricting the use of certain plastics in Nigeria even though a number of African countries like Kenya and South Africa have already taken the lead (UNIDO, 2020). Unsurprisingly, over the years, the Nigerian public have developed a high level of poor sanitation habits. We need to reverse this thought process to allow people to be more conscious about the environment. The Bottom-Top approach reflects the need for restructuring the waste collection system to allow for citizens to take responsibility for the waste they produce rather than the current government monopolized nature we have. The Nigerian must realize that the bulk responsibility for waste management lies with the citizen.

The government, through the National Orientation Agency as well as other related institutions within the states have a lot of work to do in this regard. People must be encouraged to adjust consumption patterns. The idea of the three Rs must sink in. They must be able to seek to reduce the use of plastics by reusing the materials possible and properly disposing the refuse. Citizens must understand the consequences of indiscriminate, carefree handling of waste and become more conscious to the problems that accompanies such actions.

A case for Household waste segregation

In adopting the bottom-top approach highlighted above, we make a case for the aggressive introduction of legislation for waste segregation practices among Nigerian households and institutions. Waste segregation refers to the act of separating waste into various categories using different marked containers. In advanced nations, this technique has been well developed such that various color codes exist for different kinds of waste depending on the environment. Figure 3 shows an example of a color-coded waste system for households in Switzerland. In many of these places, these kind of waste bins exist not just at peoples’ residences but even on the streets so that people can easily dispose of waste even while on transit.

Household waste segregation as a strategy of waste management is an effective and sustainable way of beginning the journey of a proper waste management since it handles waste from the source. In Nigeria unfortunately, there is hardly any such system as waste are just chunked up together and carried away without any care of the degree of hazard of the content. Even government officials designated dumps have no provision for waste segregation and such waste is evacuated as a single unit. In making a case for citizen participation, a case in point is that of Morit International School in Lagos which opens a “plastics bank account” for students so they can “deposit” plastics and in turn get a school fees subsidy. The school in-turn works with recycling plants to transform the plastic waste for further use. It is ones believe that the government can adopt this method which sees student fees subsidized by the submission of plastic waste to the management. The idea is for government to utilize their government school students as a means of mopping up the tremendous amounts of plastic wastes that litter our environment. With this idea, households will no longer dispose off plastics but may gather them and submit them to schools for subsidy of various fees at school or for them to be rewarded with textbooks and other learning resources. This we believe can in the long-run take care of the littering of drainages and surroundings and protecting the various aquatic life that is at the receiving end of the disposition of these plastics.


There is virtually no robust system for waste management in the Nigerian society today. The top-bottom approach that sees government being almost solely responsible for management has proven to be inadequate. There’s need for the government to show some will power in tackling the plastic waste crisis to guarantee a more sustainable environment. We encourage a shift toward a bottom-top approach that will see citizens significantly involved in the waste they generate. With significant enlightenment, creation of some form of incentive for citizens coupled with enforcement of legislation, the common practice of throwing away used PET bottles and various packages on the street without any consideration whatsoever of the attendant consequences will be significantly contained. Moreover, the activation of local level monitoring system for waste disposal may likely help stamp in a pro-environmental behaviour among the citizens thus guaranteeing us all a safer environment. 

[1]Thisday, June 12 2021. Paying School Fees from Plastic Wastes.

[2]Emeka Dumbili, Lesley Henderson, Chapter 22 – The challenge of plastic pollution in Nigeria, Ed(s): Trevor M. Letcher, Plastic Waste and Recycling, Academic Press, 2020, Pages 569-583,

[3]Kehinde, O., Ramonu, O. J., Babaremu, K. O., & Justin, L. D. (2020). Plastic wastes: environmental hazard and instrument for wealth creation in Nigeria. Heliyon, 6(10), e05131.


[5]Adekola, P.O., Iyalomhe, F.O., Paczoski (2021).  A. et al. Public perception and awareness of waste management from Benin City. Sci Rep 11, 306

[6]Kalyanasundaram, M., Sabde, Y., Annerstedt, K.S. et al. (2021). Effects of improved information and volunteer support on segregation of solid waste at the household level in urban settings in Madhya Pradesh, India (I-MISS): protocol of a cluster randomized controlled trial. BMC Public Health 21, 694

[7]The World Bank (2022). Solid waste management.




[11]United States Environmental Protection Agency. Waste: What are the trends in wastes and their effects on human health and the environment?



[14]Godfrey, L., Ahmed, M. T. , Gebremedhin, K. G. , Katima, J. H. , Oelofse, S., Osibanjo, O., Richter, U. H. , & Yonli, A. H.  (2019). Solid Waste Management in Africa: Governance Failure or Development Opportunity?. In  (Ed.), Regional Development in Africa. IntechOpen.

[15]Hanafi A. Punch Newspapers (2018). Plastic Pollution: Nigeria‘s Untapped ‗waste Wealth‘ Fuels Environmental Disaster; pp. 18–19.

[16]Godfrey, L., Ahmed, M. T. , Gebremedhin, K. G. , Katima, J. H. , Oelofse, S., Osibanjo, O., Richter, U. H. , & Yonli, A. H.  (2019). Solid Waste Management in Africa: Governance Failure or Development Opportunity?. In  (Ed.), Regional Development in Africa. IntechOpen.



[19]Nnaji, C. C. (2014). Status of municipal solid waste generation and disposal in Nigeria. Manag Environ Qual Int J;26(1):53e71.


Pesticides and Food Safety – Murdering Tomorrow Today

Pesticides and Food Safety – Murdering Tomorrow Today

  • Pesticides Everywhere!

Whether at home, restaurants, pubs, workplace, school/daycare centers, markets or on the farm, largely, the food we consume have traces of chemicals. In Nigeria, domestic and occupational exposure to pesticides is enormous. Synthetic chemicalshave found wide application in homes, on farms, lawns and gardens in a determination to improve on quality of life, and food safety and security.  From planting to harvest seasons, variety of chemicals are used to repel pests. Unwittingly, toxicity is initiated and heightened in our bodies and the environment with hazardous implications on health of humans and ecosystems. The level of exposure of children, women and other members of rural and urban communities is unprecedented and largely unattended. Presence of pesticides on pets, and in water, soil and air creates synergistic hazard when calculated with the quantity ingested with food. Generally, awareness of the presence of pesticides is justified by traditional hygiene and precaution like washing, sometimes with table salts to get rid of chemical compounds, processing, longer shelf life, freezing and long cooking. Yet a very important question is, to what extent are such treatments a reliable prevention or therapy of toxicity?

Fruits and vegetables (FVs) are sometimes consumed without washing. Disease no dey kill African attitude and lifestyle increase toxicity in foods in Nigeria. We, Nigerians/Africans, believe that we have immunity against effects of chemicals. This belief has resulted in emergence of a culture of eating without washing even our hands. We forget that most cashew, mango, soursop and other fruits are sprayed fungicides and different pesticides to make them more appealing in the market. Other reasons for spraying are to improve production, quantity and quality, and for preservation. Sometime we wash and for some people, it is a routine that has accompanied some discipline. Unfortunately, washing FVs with water is not adequate to get rid of stubborn pesticides. In addition, systemic pesticides are formulated differently, to kill pests by working ‘in’ the plant tissues and not ‘on’ parts of a plant. In other words, systemic pesticides cannot be eliminated by washing because the compounds translocate within plant tissues. Persistent nature of pesticides and reinforcements inside and outside of plants results in chemical residues found in guts of humans and other animals. What’s more, residues have been analyzed from tubers, stems and leaves, breast milk and baby foods (formula), indicative of a chain of generations of people living in/with toxicity. Pesticides is everywhere in Nigeria, and would remain for a long time, even if immediate actions are taken!

  • What is Nigeria’s Situation of Pesticides Usage?

Since late 20th century, the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, College of Medicine of University of Ibadan has raised concern on health effect of use of pesticides but Nigeria’s response to this call is nominal [1]. Of course prior to this time, other individuals and groups have done their bit. In November 2021, Alliance for Action on Pesticides in Nigeria, AAPN, presented a disturbing report on use and regulation of pesticides in Nigeria. AAPN stated that Nigeria is a large consumer of chemicals that are termed hazardous and banned by EU and other authorities. According to the group, Nigeria has 25 registered products that are carcinogenic, 63 mutagenic and 47 are endocrine disrupting[2]. While carcinogens are substances, organisms or agents prone to trigger cancer, mutagens tend to permanently change genetic constitution, for instance DNA, of organisms and interfere with endocrine system. These tendencies cause cancers, birth defects and other disorders that increaseburden of disease in the country.

In Nigeria, street vendors, farmers’ markets, malls and online markets like Jumia, Jiji, Konga and Ubuy sale a wide range of pesticides.  So they are readily available for purchase without rules and regulations. Pesticides are also relatively affordable in the neighborhood of N1500 and N 54 000 depending on market forces and most importantly quantity. The chemicals are in scary generic names like Sniper DDVP, Sharp Shooter, Gladiator DDVP, Dress Force, DD Force, Tree and Shrub Systemic Insect Drench, Worm Force, Zero Pest, Caterpillar Force, Perfect Killer, Force Up and Lara Force. Based on categories, pesticides and adjuvants (additives that enhance desired properties of chemicals) from different manufacturers basically have same active ingredients. The sub-Saharan Africa is the poorest region of the world. Interestingly, we are a major consumer of abovementioned pesticides without corresponding regulation. Nigeria’s situations is like we are not poor when it comes to consumption of pesticides. Osibanjo in 2002 reported that an average of 15 000 tons of pesticides and allied chemicals are imported from Asia into the country since late 20th century[3]. There is a significant shift from this figure this century. Ubiquitous influence of pesticide market and wide acceptability and usage is an undebatable toxicology and public health concern in this region. Our usage of pesticide is quite unsafe!

  • Which Chemicals Are Safe for Food Safety and Security?

Generally speaking, no chemical is safe for consumption with food, irrespective of the quantity. WHO and regulatory agencies of individual countries have permissible or acceptable limits of pesticides that humans can come in contact with. Developed countries are relatively responsive to regulations. Nigeria and many developing nations scarcely enforce rules on toxicity. Genomic (science of genes and interactions with each other and environment) research outcomes on pesticides are scary.  Pesticide interaction with, for instance DNA, results in mutation. Interference with genetic constitution are noticeable in future generations. Furthermore, cancer, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, fetal damage and diverse genotoxic manipulations are associated to pesticides toxicity. 

To drive home this point, let’s consider an instance. On September 25, 2001, Emamectin (Emamectin Benzoate) was patented. This chemical was approved as nontoxic and found a wide use for food security. For close to two decades, a large number of pesticides in use in large volumes contain Emamectin Benzoate as an active ingredient. The sad news is that subsequent research following marketing of the product revealed that pesticides containing this compound interfere with genetic constitution of DNA with potential genetic toxicology properties and effect on human lung cells [4]. Unarguably, prognosis and diagnosis of such damages are seldom reported since advanced cellular and molecular clinical techniques are not readily available or applicable in poor countries. Permissible level of pesticide and exposure has received inadequate attention occasioning low life expectancy of Nigerians. I wish we could advocate instantly that ‘No volume of pesticides should be accepted as safe in Nigeria’.

  • Who’s Most Vulnerable?

Farmers and farm workers are most vulnerable to hazardous pesticides. Till date, most farmers in Nigeria are rural poor peasants and women constitute a critical mass.  Women and children record higher morbidity and mortality since paths of exposure and immunity are lower amongst this demographics, respectively. It has been observed that nursing mothers in poor communities, in addition to domestic chores, labor more on farms, lawns and gardens to fend for their families. Such informal occupational exposure, without safety measures, provides opportunities for ingestion of contaminated foods while on fields that are sprayed with pesticides. Women feed their infants while actively applying pesticides to FVs, grains, tubers, pets, livestock and lawns. An African woman believes that to ensure safety, she must test any food she would serves her baby.  To fulfil this ritual, both mother and baby ingest pesticides. In addition, pesticides are of high potency and able to remain active and transported or translocated in body system for long durations. In this process,a mother’s breastmilk is contaminated with pesticide.

Concerned about low immunity and vulnerability of children, the US Environmental Protection Agency once cancelled and restricted 270 pesticides. This scenario is far reaching testimony for Nigeria to adopt protection of most vulnerable demographics. Unfortunately, who cares? A very important questions that must precede pesticide-specific regulation and ban, as fulfilled by the US-EPA, is whether we have dusted Stockholm Convention agreements since ratification in 2004.  Commonly, Nigerians lip services go beyond implementation of important agenda that other nations pursue to attain sustainability. A closer look at pesticide consumption and regulations documents reveal poor participation in legislation and enforcement. Inevitably, one concludes that a large number of Nigerian are vulnerable to pesticides exposure and attendant toxicities. The life expectancy of future generation is lowered by unconcerned today’s generation. Is this not a clear case of Murdering Tomorrow Today?

  • Who are Our Regulatory Agencies and What Are They Up to?

The most important pesticides regulatory agencies in Nigeria are National Agency for Food & Drug Administration & Control (NAFDAC), Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) and National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA). Based on time, SON NAFDAC and NESREA were established in December 1971, January 1993, and on July 30, 2007. These three all have mandates ranging from regulations, in terms of quality, quantity and usage to ensuring environmental compliance through enforcement actions. In addition, Federal ministries of Health, Agriculture & Rural Development, Water Resources and Environment oversee and carry out supervisory functions and allied matters. Nigeria has a lot to offer regarding paperwork, treaties and formulation policies. Only implementation suffers. Informal markets and marketing of pesticides are clear indications of policy implementation failure, and perhaps summersault. Until policies are implemented to the later, through full enforcement, we are found wondering who pesticides regulatory agencies are and asking, what are they up to?

NGOs and Civil Society Organizations have shown great concern on toxicity triggered by pesticides. Women Environmental Programme, in 2017 worked with Women Engage for a Common Future of Netherlands to sensitize stakeholders on Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP). POP is defined by UNEP as “chemical substances that persist in the environment, bio-accumulation through the food web, and pause a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment”. This is a matter that began in Sweden in 2001 and ratified in 2004 with expectation that the global north, aka developed countries, will support and fund elimination of POP in counterpart global south, aka developing countries. Regrettably, it is close to a decade and not much has been achieved in this vein.

  • How Do We Conclude this Matter?

European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, and European Chemical Agency, ECHA, have long developed a position paper based on the idea of “one substance – one assessment” to improve on assessment of chemicals toxicological properties. EFSA’s role is delivery of scientific advice by providing risk assessment of pesticides used in foods and feeds. The authority achieves this by working with relevant stakeholders, including European Parliament, as technical partners. Similar regulatory and enforcement mandates are carried out by EPA in the US and Antarctica; Pest Management Regulatory Agency, Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Provincial’s Department of Environment in Canada; Australian Pesticide & Veterinary Medicine Authority; Southeast Pesticide Regulatory Compliance (eg Thailand); South American Pesticide Regulatory Compliance (eg Argentina); Middle East Pesticide Regulatory Compliance (eg Egypt) and African Pesticide Regulatory Compliance (eg Kenya). NAFDAC, NESREA and SON are poised to lower, and ultimately utterly ban, use of hazardous pesticides. As a big brother and giant of Africa, Nigeria achieving elimination of pesticide will provide leadership in African Union for sub-Saharan Africa to exit a public health quagmire.

Local physicians, especially public health experts and practitioners are concerned about food safety. In commemoration of Food Safety Day of 2021, physicians of Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, advocated screening of food handlers to reduce food poisoning and contaminated foods. NIMR declared that, WHO has publicized that 10% of people fall ill as a result of foodborne diseases. Children below five years are most affected, out of 420, 000 deaths above 33% are children.  Professor Stella Smith of NIMR also alerted Nigerians that more than 200 diseases are caused not only by parasitic microorganisms but also by chemical substances. If such advocacy is heightened regularly and much more during Food Safety Day, individuals and groups will be educated to act.

Individuals, families and communities also have opportunities to provide health education on pesticides in foods killing Nigerians. Nigeria is a very religious country, huge numbers of churches and mosques are tremendous platforms for campaign and awareness on hazards of use of pesticides. Individual action is of eminence too. Each One Teach One is an African proverb of great relevance and fits this African situation. Also, when Each One Teach Two Learn, is a strategy to waging and winning wars – fighting local issues globally and global issues locally. The need for each one to educate one, on daily basis, the impact of pesticides in Nigeria, is paramount given the rate of consumption and current burden of diseases soaring unabated in the country. We must therefore conclude this matter by starting a war against unregulated use of pesticides.

Thank you

[1]Pesticide Usage and Poisoning in Nigeria


[3]Implications of Pesticide Usage in Nigeria

[4] Toxic Effects of the Emamectin Benzoate exposure on cultured human bronchial epithelial (16HBE) cells

What is Education for?

What is Education for?

Education has been described as light that liberate recipients from darkness. In 1974, a notable Nigerian professor of education, Fafunwa, said education is aggregate of processes by which a child or young adult develops his abilities, attitudes and other forms of behavior which are of positive value to the society in which he lives. The mention of young individuals in his definition provides opportunity to mention some other forms of education namely – adult education, accompanied by informal and non-formal education. While adult education is the education based largely on andragogy or adult-based curriculum, the other two are not age dependent rather they are described based on the form each takes. Adult education is any form of learning opportunities available to adult. The term adult is defined in context because while some societies see under 18 as a minor or a child, others see 13 years married girl as a woman and adult. Whatever the determinant of categorization, structured basic or post basic education provided to such category of people is delineated as adult education. When a learning process is ‘not structured’ or curriculum is not defined, such education is categorized as informal, different from non-formal. These two concepts are often used interchangeably due to overlaps but they are quite different, especially to professionals and practitioners of the field. Non-formal education is any structured education taking place outside conventional school aimed at certification or some other attainments. Adult and Non-Formal Education (ANFE) has become a popular concept based on learning experiences adults have enjoyed during acquisition of certificates, professional advancement or acquisition of new knowledge helping us to understand more the meaning and benefits of education.

A case study of education as a process is a Gbagyi girl in central Nigeria. Traditionally, she is trained to develop capacity in tree identification as she collects fuelwood with her mother, or other older women in her community. She also learns how to bear load on her shoulder to enable her convey the woods from the wild back home. According to the culture, Gbagyi girls must accept this burden bearing and hiking as physical, mental and social activity that makes them agile and fit into the society. This indigenous knowledge, is a traditional ecological knowledge aimed at making her resilient and to live in harmony with other humans and nature. In future, when she grows to become an independent female (woman), she is expected to manage natural resources adequately without compromising the future generation. This education for sustainability, though without written curriculum, is a medley of informal and non-formal teaching-learning process stemming from an enduring legacy since existence of mankind, or Gbagyi culture. It is erroneous to describe such traditional knowledge as unstructured just because of lack of modern formal characteristics books and other forms of documentations. Oral communication, traditional in Africa, is not to be undermined by western educations methods no mater its limitations. Hence for a contemporary child in rural area for instance, myriads of opportunities abound to learn from classroom to nature and the other way round. Comprehending agriculture, biology and geography becomes easy for such a grounded child. Expectedly, effort of teachers and mentors blending these forms of education – formal, informal or non-formal – should produce educated generations of system thinkers and future leaders capable of contending with global changes and challenges like climate change, food and human insecurity and global emerging diseases. When behavioral changes become this obvious, education will be appreciated in Nigeria.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. For any individual or society to attain this state, education plays an important role. So many evidences prove that health is associated with education. It has been observed in both developed and developing countries that adults with low education attainments are of correspondent health status. The implication is that functional education solves problems of poor access to healthcare and tardy decisions on health by individuals, families and societies. For instance, it’s been found that educated women are most likely to seek antenatal and allied cares compared to those that are not educated. This is evident in the high disease burden in sub-Saharan Africa that has more uneducated women. The rate of maternal, and infant, mortality is significantly higher in Nigeria than records of the global north (developed countries). How is education influencing health and decisions? Largely, educated people are elites of higher economic status hence higher capability to afford healthcare. In addition, cognitive development resulting from learning exercises and knowledge to make informed decision is more available with educated people. Lastly, healthy behaviors inform educated people to respond swiftly to symptoms of ill health by seeking medical interventions. If education is beneficial in Nigeria, then high life expectancy is one expected dividend.

Unfortunately, UNICEF reported in 2018 that one out of five out-of-school children (OOSC) in the world is a Nigerian and the report is not any better in 2022. Currently, the country’s 18.5 million OOSC is the highest index recorded by any country on the globe. OOSC phenomenon is predominant in the north and girls have the lowest rate of enrolment, retention and completion of school. For decades, this menace has been driven by sociocultural issues and exacerbated by insurgency, poverty, poor governance and corruption. The northeast has for over a decade faced insurgency and insecurity issues by Boko Haram sect of extremist. These attacks have exacerbated cultural barriers and further hinder participation and performance of especially girls since the abduction of Chibok girls in 2014. The curve of low attendance has never flattened instead on the rise perpetually. Consequently, research has been focused on gender and stalled statistics from UNESCO reveal more than 5 million school age girls are out-of-school. Dropout rates are at sensitive teen age bracket. This has reflected in girls leaving schools at sixth grade, or primary school graduation phase, and never to transit to secondary level. As important as the 9-year basic education is, girls are not enrolled into the lower secondary school. So girls have persistently made more than 60% of OOSC in Nigeria. Most specifically, recent policy research outcomes reveal similar decline in girl education primarily due to gaps associated with poor implementation of National Policy on Education on gender.  Nigeria achieving global girl-child education goal in the midst of overwhelming socioeconomic issues becomes a daunting task. That is not to say efforts to educate girls and women are halted. No. There may be need to adapt new strategies of solving an old problem. 

Foregoing data and statistical information calls for the need for parents and other older ones to ensure all children of school age are in school. Policy makers and implementers must ensure that while these children are in school, relevant knowledge for problems solving is available so that the students are able to tackle current challenges confronting Nigeria. In addition, young adults must take advantage of various available educational opportunities for economic empowerment and national development. The 21st century digital revolution provides ample opportunities for ANFE to thrive. Diverse virtual learning environments abound in various platforms and no one should be left behind uneducated. Asking ‘what is education for?’ must be a daily question from parlors to parliaments, to say the least. If Nigeria is able to sincerely answer this question, then light will surely come with intensity to destroy corruption so that insurgency, hunger, poverty, climate change, pandemics and syndemics will not comprehend it.