Saving the Environment, Tracking the Solutions

The need to preserve the environment in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. Failure to do that invites conflicts, depletion of ecosystems, migrations etc. The country is already experiencing various forms of environmental degradations1.

The northern part of the country is facing extreme conditions of deforestation, drought, desertification and erosion2. The vast arable lands are lost due to overgrazing, unsustainable farming methods, deforestation and Sahara Desert enncroahment3. Other parts of the country witness soil and water pollution from oil spillage and industrial processes, deforestation, extreme weather conditions, flooding and loss of biodiversity2. The causes are largely anthropogenic which are now being exacerbated by climate change.

Keeping up with all the environmental degradations and marking them for protection would be an arduous task. However, achieving the feat, especially digitally, would mean all environmental issues are brought to the fore and attention of all. Hence, invigorating people and organizations to take actions.

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has in recent time developed a national tracking programme of public health issues4.  It is called the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Programme (NEPHTP). Up to 26 states in the United States developed local tracking platforms that are embedded in the CDC NEPHTP.  The state of Lousianna’s Tracking Programme mapped the health effects and reach of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon BP oil spillage as well as to inform other relevant authorities how to help5.

In the absence of any environmental tracking platform in Nigeria, I propose a Nigeria Environmental Tracking Platform (NET-P). A community-led initiative to identify, map and records the environmental problems their land is experiencing and also tracks and identifies the players trying to solve them would be an effective way of preserving the environment in Nigeria. It also mentions and educates users the consequences of not protecting the environment.

It is a regional innovation project that motivates people to solve the environmental challenges their locality is facing. Thereafter, any solution implemented by the people is indexed and properly elaborated in a manner to allow for replication and implementation elsewhere. It’s like an encyclopedia of regional environmental problems, the solutions needed and taken by others.

This initiative builds on the state of Louisiana Tracking Programme. The latter lacks functions of suggested solutions and does not catalogue solutions taken for easier reference. It also doesn’t rank the problems requiring urgent interventions. NET-P would be quite diverse, taking into consideration the environmental priorities of different regions. Different regions require different environment solutions; afforestation, land reclamation, water conservation efforts etc. The greater the need for the solution in the community, the more recognition it gets.

It would rank solutions based on social, economic and environmental benefits of in that location. Availability would be in different languages and easily accessible, with limited or no internet connection. An economic tree such as the baobab planted in dry Sahel region of north western Nigeria to combat desertification and improve livelihood cannot be ranked on the same level if it is planted in the oil polluted south-south Nigeria requiring remediation and land reclamation efforts.

It can also be used as an environmental reporting platform. One can report unsafe dumping in an area or burning of items that cause air pollution. Thus, organizations tackling such problems would become aware of it and choose the best action to take.

According to a study of over 3,425 environmental projects implemented in the UK under the ‘Green Spaces and Sustainable Communities’, grassroots community-led initiatives have been more successful than projects with top-down approaches led by local authorities. Grassroots projects reveal how the community is committed to solving their problems. The solutions were needs-based; known and identified by the community themselves. They were also more successful because they enjoyed participation of experts from different fields6.

Such a community initiative can spur different people into being responsible for the well-being of the environment they live in. It would promote efforts taken by other people, encourage and allow for replication of solution elsewhere. It would strengthen unity and cohesion in and between communities, enhance teamwork, bring synergy, foster peace between citizens and above all, help Nigerians, environmental organizations and the government in preserving Nigeria’s environment.



  1. United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs. Institutional aspects of sustainable development in Nigeria. accessed on 20th May 17
  1. United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs. National Environmental Problems, National Implementation of Agenda 21, Nigeria Country Profile, November 1997 <; accessed on 20th May 17
  2. Sunday Gabriel. Tackling the Effect of Desertification. Daily Trust. June 21, 2009 <; accessed on 20th May 17
  3. Centre for Disease Control, National Environmental Public Health Tracking Programme <; accessed on 20th May 17
  4. Centre for Disease Control, Louisiana Tracking Platform, Sharing Our Stories: NCEH’s Impact on Public Health <; accessed on 20th May 17
  5. Community Development Foundation, How do community groups make life better. Paper 5, improving the physical environment, October 2014, Page 2. <; accessed on 20th May 17



Minimalism or Packratism; It is Up to You

“The more the merrier”. Author, English Man

The popular saying, ‘the more the merrier’ is an utterly wrong statement to use as an objective in many facets of life. I may be wrong.

My religion tells me one should be in this world like a traveler. That one is on a journey to another destination where what you possess here does not mean much there. One is encouraged to aim for less worldly things and garner more spiritual attainment. A belief that only augurs well for those who deeply believe or have a core belief.

But what does it mean to be a traveler? A number of things. One, you are transiting from one place to another for an objective. You have left home in search of something. And when you assume the status of a traveler, something is bound to adhere to; packing. What do you bring on your journey and what do you not?

I was a terrible packer years then. In fact, right from High School days, I remember how I always try to bring everything and fill my bags to capacity. Fast-forward to my adult life, I still fail, not miserably though. At one time when I traveled to Tokyo, I had brought a number of clothing, for every weather (despite it was summer then). To be fair to myself, I was going to be away from my place of domicile for about 3 months. Therefore, I thought I should just bring enough clothes.

It was a terrible idea. I had simply brought more than enough. Now let me ask you, how many clothes do you bring for a journey lasting for about 3 months? Clothing for one month, so you can wash and reuse or for 3 weeks or two weeks or one week? The math isn’t so easy to come by after all.

When you are going away for a year! 😀

My observant roommate in Japan, Alex noticed the need to improve my packing (over filled bag) and tells me how he packs. ‘Bring together all the things you need for a journey, then just halve it by two.’ He said in a genuinely British accent that resonates in me anytime I am packing to travel. “Halve it by two’. If I am going away for two weeks and thought to bring a pair of cloth for every day, that will be at least 14 pieces of shirts/t-shirts, trousers,  underwear (singlet and boxers), stockings. At least.

Wrong! Halve it by two Alex says. And you will be okay.

Packratism on a short trip is just a little tip of the ice-berg. What about in everyday life? What do you need every day? How much should you keep and how much shouldn’t? How many cars and clothing and shoes do you need in your garage and closet?

The word for such a less material possessive life is called minimalism; having less of everything. Minimalism is a tool for finding freedom, living more consciously and more deliberately.

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It’s what Buddhists monks and many people. They call it viagyra-the intentional giving away of your possessions. Sayyidna Abu Bakr, r.a., the first leader of the Islamic Caliphate after the demise of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) practiced viagyra too in his life time, by giving away all his wealth. Read about the beautiful story here.

Practicing viagyra leaves you to enjoy moksha-the moment after giving away everything. Having this kind of moment-the moksha moment- can reduce your mental stress. It leaves you with much more time for other stuff instead of battling to create time to enjoy/use/admire/caress/display/…(fill in the blank) your gadgets, farmlands, automobiles, houses, and whatever you may have purchased. Hence the thinking that you have all these and you need to guard and use them frequently creates thinking and decision fatigue.

Buddhist Monk

Minimalism is a line of thought to always serve in what you do. From making purchases to traveling and collecting collectibles. It’s the opposite of being a packrat. Possessing a lot of stuffs that you have to carter for might become a mental stress.

I remember how last year, I used the elementary but powerful economic principle of opportunity cost and scale of preference to decide on what to spend my money on. Things or experience. See my blog post about it here.

I shrink in my chair and reminisce walking the streets of Amsterdam. From one street to another, turning at river canals and crossing over the old bridge. I found a very good restaurant; a Suriname cuisine. I heard the name of the country once before, but never knew they were colonized by the Dutch. So it was easy to have such a restaurateur from Suriname serving food cooked in his native seasoning in the middle of Amsterdam.

Those are the kinds of thoughts that come into my head often. Then occasionally, I get interrupted by what I could have possessed if I hadn’t spent my money on different cuisines and traveling to different places. That new phone, an expensive leather wrist watch or a designer couture bought from Champs’ Elysees.

The could-haves are just numerous to wonder in. but they didn’t matter then. And they cannot now.

To conclude my post, here is a challenge.

Look at all your possessions. Which ones haven’t you use used in the last 3 (or even) 2 months or so? Shoes, clothing or what? Now is the time to bring them all out and giveaway.

Want to go deeper in minimalism, read the Chicago Tribune post here.

Less is more! Less is more!!

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Sustainable Abuja: Pedestrian Friendly or Car Friendly?

Why does it matter if a city is sustainable or not? Why does it matter if a city is walkable or not? Why it does it matter if a city is inclusive or not? It matters because when every person who lives in a city is considered in building it, it ensures their collective participation and recognition. It empowers them and increases their mental strengths which automatically can increase their contribution in making the city a better place.

I am constantly asking this question in the city I live, Abuja. I have been around far too long to witness its evolution from a small city of a million people to more than 4 million people now. I have lived long enough to see big wide dual carriage ways being built without pedestrian bridges. Long enough to witness its rapid urbanization without a corresponding provision of social and affordable housing for its youth and many of the people who work inside it. Long enough to witness failing urban transportation to carter for everyone.

But what about regulations that affect how sustainable a city is? Such as ensuring a city is walkable. A sustainable city should discourage emissions of greenhouse gases, especially from transportation that is shown to be the 4th highest emitter of GHG by economic sector. Therefore, less car usage should be a watchword. A more walking population can mean healthier and more productive workforce.

Constantly connecting districts with roads doesn’t mean it’s bad, but what’s bad is laying out a road without a corresponding provision for where pedestrians can safely walk or access public transportation.

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Recently, I have been witnessing how safe bus stops are created on different road ways in Abuja. So for the past years when the roads were existing, pedestrians have to legally run across 8 lane roads in crossing over to the other side. Legal because when the roads were built, ped. crossings were not provided, even though they were built around popular road crossings and bus stops for the public. The developers never felt the need to consider the pedestrians. Despite the sudden interventions of building ped bridges, there are many major bus stops without these.

Because the custom of running across roads (jaywalking), even when the pedestrian bridges are built, people ditch them and prefer to run across. Another reason is carelessness. There are instances where people are hit by speeding cars. Jaywalking is a crime in many countries. But Abuja is a place where zebra crossings are only for real Zebras; found only in the zoo. In some places, animals use pedestrian bridges, while humans prefer to run across (have you seen such photos). Only a minute fraction of car drivers respect the pedestrian crossings.

If you want someone to stop for you or a loved one at zebra crossing, you should start stopping for people if you are behind the wheel

Another reason for ditching pedestrian bridges is because they are built a little faraway from where people normally run or bus stops are located. Although at times, it is the only feasible engineering and planning option.

I wonder when people will become more watchful of their safety and start obeying simple rules to prolong their lives.

But simply putting pedestrian footpaths and bridges doesn’t make a city walkable. What about other regulations to promote walking. Often times, commercial buildings in Abuja who due to their strategic locations can have two accesses to their building. One faces a collector road (busier road) and the other access road (less busier than the collector). Government Development Control Department orders such building owners to shutdown pedestrian gates overlooking busier roads. Road users who come to such places are made to travel round and a longer distance to access the other gate, thus aiding more car emissions while inconveniencing pedestrians.

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An image of the numerous order signs painted on many commercial buildings in Abuja by the Development Control Development

The most walkable cities in Nigeria are not the developed the cities. Basic social amenities are more than 5 minute walk from homes. The thinking here is, development means more space for cars and less for pedestrians. Unequitable and uninclusive development.

It will be a welcome and sustainable development if Nigerian cities are designed around the people living in it.

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Decision Making; Spending Money on Things or Experience

A thought crept into my mind while sitting at my desk at the office last week. I had to take a decision about an expenditure I was about to make. I have been indecisive about it simply because I was taking my time in conceiving how much change or impact my final option would have on my life.

In trying to be decisive, I had a retrospection of last year’s event. The retrospection should aid in taking me out of my current indecisiveness. I went over some of the decisions I took last year, the strategy I used in taking them should help me in deciding what I have at stake. Some of the results of those decisions I took last year stare at me daily in the office.

Standing conspicuously on my office desk are 3 memorabilia; replicas of Eiffel Tower, Pyramid of Giza and wind turbine of the Netherlands. As you will guess, all acquired when I traveled to Paris, Giza in Egypt and the Netherlands.

Occasionally, I did hold these precious items in my hands to glance closer or play with them as I get deep in thinking about office work or whatever that comes to mind. On some instances, I remember the trips to their originating cities. It refreshes my memory and invigorates me.

Back to my indecisiveness, my final decision boiled down to one thing; use my money for a material thing or spend it on an experience I can reminisce on. I thought about all the not needed things but good to have things I could buy with the money; upgrading my car, getting a cozy apartment, new shoes, a new laptop, a new phone, new wrist watches, sunglasses, etc. The consumer culture thing you know.

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The thing is I can manage without those new things. I learned to resist impulse expenditure about 3 years ago from Brian Tracy. Sometimes, it is more about ranking expected expenditure according to needs. Economists call this scale of preference. The idea that you rank a number of things you want to expend time and money on, in order of desperate need. And when you forego one item for the other, it becomes the opportunity cost of the foregone item. Last year, I had a European trip, culminating to be the opportunity cost to many material possessions I could have. Did you miss the story? Read it here again.

And that’s why I often don’t do well to the expectation of people I meet after returning from a trip, when they ask ‘what did you buy from …(insert name of a foreign city I visited)? I did not purchase something worth their 100% attention or societies 200%. Instead, I invested much of my little cash in paying for an experience such as snorkeling, go-karting, new dishes at restaurants, transportation, desert safari etc. and invest the tiniest fraction on a memorabilia such as the ones quoted above or good to have things.

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Go-karting in Dubai 2014
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My fun friends after the go-kart race in Dubai

I looked up some hard facts online about whether my decision on spending money on experience instead of on things is congruous to many people. Yes it is. Huffington Post reports about a 20 year research carried out by a Cornell University professor Dr. Gilovich on spending money on experiences instead of things  makes you happier.  Here are the three things that helped him arrive at his conclusion.

One. Getting accustomed to new possessions. At the instant you acquire something new, it’s your high point of excitement. However, this thrill fades away as the earth orbits around the sun. True?

Two. Raising the bar always. When you buy a $100 dollar sunglasses today, an expected value of what cost of sunglasses you will buy next will be higher than $100. Once we get something, we want a better one next time. True?

Three. Keeping up with the Joneses. By nature, Dr. Gilovich says, possessions foster comparison. Very true. The instant you see a friend’s car, it’s about comparing which is better. Truth is, there will always be someone with a better car.

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It is called the paradox of possessions says Dr. Gilovich. The wrongful assumption that buying things will make you happy as long as the item exists is wrong. It defies common sense I know at times. Buying something that will be there for a very long time should sustain the happiness you got earlier. Reality is, no. It won’t and will never.

However, foregoing such material expenditure for experiences such as travels, dining out with friends, donating to fundraisers, signing up for gym or yoga classes, trying out new cafes or restaurants should leave a more lasting happiness for you.

This will give you some well lasting memories. Take your friends with you.
Or go kite-surfing

Often times, it is not easy to always think of the opportunity cost while about to spend your money, especially when you have enough of it. But it should be. Often when I hear and see people complain of little or no money to spend on experiences such as a vacation, I am bewildered by their considerations as I observe their material possessions that could cover their dreams.

Why have an expensive car, while suffering from ADD (adventure deficit disorder) and not sell it to buy a cheaper car and get cured.

“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods. You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.” says Gilovich.

It is easier to bond more with people you hiked Mount Kenya with or traveled to Rome with than with someone who has the same car or phone as you. Even if you did not take the trip together, knowing you all had similar experiences will bring you closer. And that’s more reason to ditch retail therapy (material items) for experience soaked expenditure.

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When I went hiking to Mount Kenya with friends in 2015

What limits you from foregoing spending on things for experiences? What frequently ranks high on scale of preference, purchase of material possessions or expenditure on experiences? Do you always think of the opportunity cost when you come to spending? I would love to hear what is more important to you, things or experiences and why?

Please drop your comments below.

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Backpacking Europe; How I Fulfilled a European College Student Dream

“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” – Anonymous

I love travelling. I don’t mind (much) if it is in style or not, at times. But when I had started preparing my bags to come back to Nigeria, I wanted to see parts of Europe I have never seen before. I drew up an itinerary, from where I reside in East Germany to the south, passing through Munich, then Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Ljubljana, Milan, Monaco, Geneva and back to Germany. I wasn’t sure of this route. I was more motivated to start from Munich because Bayern Munich will be hosting Manchester city at their stadium, the Allianz Arena on July 20th. So I wanted to enjoy the game before going on my journey. Tickets weren’t easy to come by and so I changed my route, from Weimar to the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and back to Germany. I wasn’t sure of this route either, but I went for it.

“Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.” -Lawrence Durrell

The itinerary looks full. But it’s nothing compared to what many students of colleges and universities in Europe do after graduation. They strap their backpacks and head out to see the rest of the continent and world. I wanted same. I wanted to see everywhere.


I didn’t know if I was suffering from ecedemomania (a morbid impulse or obsession to travel or wander around or a compulsive wondering away from home) but travelling makes me tick. I get motivated a lot, by the city, the people I meet and see, the experience, the culture shock and a lot other things that goes into your head when you travel.

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

I did a bit of research, trying to know interesting places to see in those cities. I penned a few down. I also asked a few friends who lived in those cities what was interesting to see. I was happy I did as one of the places I later visited every single day for the 3 days I was in Amsterdam was recommended through this way.

I got my backpack and stock it up with a few clothing, toiletries, maps and my camera. Starting out was quite easy as I hitched a ride from the east to the west of Germany. More of the hitchhiking story in previous blog post here. Utrecht in the Netherlands was my first stop.

Utrecht seemed a small city, despite its big train station. But that’s how the Netherlands is. It’s a small country. I didn’t sleep in Utrecht, I proceeded to Amsterdam, a city I have always known as the first on the list on weather stations and of course, the home of Ajax Football club. It was amazing to be there. More of detailed story in Amsterdam subsequently. Subscribe to my blog post so you do not miss out.

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I had packed a mattress in my backpack. When the night came, I passed it out in a green Vondel Park. It was surprising. A Dutch couple, who had an apartment in the city joined me. Not me I mean, but in the park. They wanted to enjoy the cool natural breeze of the park. The night was peaceful, I slept with so much ease in my mind. By the time I woke up, the sun was up but the couple was gone.

Three days passed quickly in the Netherlands and I had a road trip to Brussels, the capital of Europe. Another city that has become familiar to me due to weather forecasts (is not that I watch weather forecast only on TV,  just that after the Sports News or some News Segment, the weather story always comes up). I know faintly that the European Union is headquartered there, from watching news. I met so many backpackers there. The night I arrived, Tomorrowland was happening. There were so many youths around. I lodged in to Urban Youth Hostel, about 2km from the city centre. I had made my reservations from Amsterdam already, I was so looking forward to sleeping in a proper bedroom, after camping in Veldermort Park in Amsterdam for two days.

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One of the many river alleys of Amsterdam

When people visit Belgium, they normally run to Bruges, a nearby coastal city. I wanted to see Brussels, as I had only two days for Belgium. I liked the city and remember so much of it, seven months after. Why? Because I walked only in the city for the two days I was there. It was the second time I took a walking tour. Her name was Kristin, a student and a worker. She loves her city she said, and organizes free walking tours for tourists like us. She narrated the story of Leopold the II, who was cunning enough to purchase Angola, with a company.

She also told us interesting stories of the Grand Palace Square, the original place we met. The mythical story of the Manneken Pis and a lot others. She knew so much of her city. I was glad I followed her. She was the one who told us French Fries aren’t from France but from Belgium.

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Panoramic shot of the Grand-Place
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A clothed (not common) Manneken Pis. Legend has it he peed to quench a fire the engulfed then Brussels

More of Brussels…subscribe to my blog here

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The time came to say goodbye to Brussels. Paris was next. Again, I took the bus (yeah I like road trips). We zoomed off to Paris North Bus Station. It was the 6th day of my tour and I was in my third country already. I met with an old friend who I met during my undergraduate days in Zaria. He was working in Paris. So I didn’t need a walking tour from a stranger. He was perfect.

The Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, Buisness Centre all graced my presence. They were so many people around. So many tourists. So many shoppers and coffee drinkers.

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An empty street off Champs-Elysees
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Arc de Triomphe: Finish point of Tour de France

By that time, the idea was to proceed to Marseille then sail to Barcelona in Spain. I had seen and experienced so much in the last 8 days. I have walked in many European capitals and took a thousand photos. My brain was saturated with vigor, albeit, at the expense of my legs.

If not the Adidas Neo sneakers I was using, I wouldn’t have come this far with walking. I am quite sure if Suleiman Hashimu (the guy who walked from Lagos to Abuja in celebration of President Buhari’s victory) had them on, he would have continued to Sambisa Forest in Maiduguri.

But then there was a general body fatigue building on because for every single of the last 8 days, I was walking from this location to another. It was exhilarating albeit tiring. I resorted to go back home, to Weimar.

I used a Blabla car (car sharing app) to get a pickup. He was Pakistani if I remember well. He works for a Tabloid in Germany. We drove for 5 hours back to Frankfurt were I shared a car with another German training to be a policeman. When I arrived Weimar, I grinned so much. I was glad I travelled that far, alone. I will do it again, if I get the chance to.

What are your travel dreams? What’s on your bucket list? Tell me. I would love to know. For a detailed exposition of my experiences in the different European cities, subscribe to my blog and get instant notification when they are released.

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Where to Sell and Donate Recyclables in Abuja

If you have ever heard the phrase “waste to wealth”, here is how you can start benefiting from your waste in Abuja.

We all buy (soft) drinks packaged in plastic (PET) bottles, glasses or Aluminum cans. After we drink down the contents, we either toss it in the bin or on the road. Do you know what happens to these waste when they get hauled away by waste collectors? They take them to dumpsites and simply dump there. Now that’s not the scary thing. When this goes on forever, we will be fighting for land with the waste we create.

That’s what developed countries like Italy and many others are currently facing. They generate a lot of waste and do not have where to dump it. A huge monumental case is about to happen in Delta State, where a company from Italy, through a Nigerian company, brought their waste to dump in the state.

And if you live in Abuja, there are people who are just a phone call away to come and collect your recyclables. There are 3 things to do if you want to start being part of the recycling chain in Abuja.

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One. Provide a dedicated bin for your recyclables and another for the rest.  By doing this, you are practicing separation at source.

Two. Inform everyone in the house or office that they need to abide by the separation at source.

Three. Call waste haulers to come and get it. Who do you call?

You can sell or donate your recyclables to 4 different types of people in Abuja.

  1. Chanja Datti

It is a social enterprise that collects waste from households and commercial places in exchange for points (recycredits the company calls them) you can redeem for airtime, hotel room discounts, supermarket discounts etc. All you need do is log in to their website and register. The company normally provides a jute sack for registered households to put their recyclables (see infographic below). If you fill it up, you give them a phone call to come and get it for free. You can as well just provide your bins, when it reaches a big quantity, you can still call them to come and get it.

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How the recycling programme of Chanja Datti works

Enroll directly on their portal here.

p.s: you do not need a smart phone to enroll.

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These are all the types of ‘wastes’ Chanja Datti and many recycling companies buy

2. The second type of people you can give are the cart pushers. See how they look like below. These people normally ransack you waste bins outside. They litter the whole place when they do this, unfortunately. So instead of allowing them to do that, inform them they can come to your house on a given day to get it.

3. The third people to give are the kunu and sobo If you watch the road while driving in Abuja, especially in Wuse 2, you will find women carrying sacks with PET bottles in them. They either wash it to sell their kunu in them or sell it to those who do it. Some of us know people who even do this. Or your neighbor knows who need them, then you can easily sell or donate to them.

4. The last part is to approach the recycling companies and sell to them. There is one along Ahmadu Bello Way after crossing the Banex Bridge on your way to Gwarimpa and another in Jabi, just after the motorpark (ask for Gidan Roba if you get there). They will buy your waste.

So if you are in Abuja, you can start being eco-friendly by separating your waste and selling or donating them. You increase their income, divert waste from dumpsite, water bodies and inevitably help save the environment.

Have you already started selling or donating your waste in Abuja or any part of the country? I would love to know. Don’t know how to position your new waste bins or looking for advices on how to do it best? I am just a comment away.

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How We Are Making Abuja Hotter

If you have been into a conversation with others or overheard people saying Abuja is so hot, here are the best reasons why it is so. We may all think heat and its presence is caused by nature, the sun or the hot dry winds of the Sahara Desert. But they aren’t the only reasons why.

The biggest heat source, the sun, emits as much heat as it wants to, but other factors limit how much of this heat gets into our cities, how much is retained and how much is emitted back or outside the city.

Whenever each of us builds a house, he or she increases the amount of heat in that area and generally, the city. Whenever the city councils builds a road, a percentage of heat will be added in your city. It’s a straightforward heat budget, the more concrete buildings,  asphaltic roads and developments we have in the city, the more heat that will be present in our city, especially at night.

Urban heat island (UHI), is a phenomenon in which urban areas have higher temperatures than nearby rural areas, due to human reasons. The phenomenon has been discovered about 50 years ago and is known to affect so many cities’ energy consumption, thermal comfort, air conditioning costs and human health . The more a city develops (puts up more buildings), the more heat island it builds.

I came to know about this phenomenon as a graduate student. My MSc thesis had chiefly investigated how to make our buildings cooler by using living green roofs (they inevitably cool the cities too). UHI is present in many cities in the world, albeit unwanted. Many cities are doing whatever they can to combat this effect. One major way is increase in vegetation; trees, green roofs, high albedo materials (materials with high solar reflectivity), water bodies and fountains, etc. So if we want to mitigate UHI, we need to combat it by growing vegetation.

What about Abuja?

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Let’s understand a little of the geography of Abuja. At an elevation above sea level of 864m, the capital of Nigeria sits higher than many Nigerian cities. The climate is a tropical savannah, with above average temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius, rocky terrain and a rainfall season that lasts for only 5 months. There are many hills around the city. About 4 million people live in the city during the day time, with only a quarter of a million estimated to be living in city at night. It’s like the Bay area in the US. Owning to high costs of apartments and rents, many people who work in the city during the day time travel for 20 to 50 kilometres to their homes in nearby areas.

These nearby areas aren’t flooded with all the cars, concrete and asphalt of Abuja. As I earlier mentioned, concrete and asphalt are the major reasons why we have UHI.


Those materials and many others developers put, behave like heat sinks. During daytime, they absorb heat from the sun. When the night comes, instead of the city to be cooler, it is hot because the heat sinks emit this heat back in to the environment. As soon as the heating source disappears (they stop absorbing heat), they start re-emitting heat back.

If you really want to experience this, you should take a walk in your neighbourhood at night. You will feel the night is still warm, instead of it to be cool like the neighbouring rural areas with less built up areas. Placing your face very close to the road or interlocking blocks,  you will most likely feel a hotter air around that region than when standing. This heat, summed up from all heat sinks in the city, causes the UHI.

Temperature profile of built up areas ompare with rural and suburban areas (credits: Wikimedia Commons)

So when you want to build tomorrow, ask your building engineer and architect to use non-heat sinks on your site. Don’t do interlocking blocks around your house, put grasses. Green vegetation, owning to their nature, do evapotranspiration. Evaporated water cools the microclimate around the house and ultimately, the city. It improves the thermal conditions of the city.

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Mitigating UHI in Abuja

Its sad when you drive in to so many estates in Abuja with little or no vegetation at all. The urban planning and building policies have inevitably increased UHI. The policies must change to push for developers to start using high albedo materials. I blogged about the plans of enforcing green building strategies in Abuja by the development control here. But we do not only need green building regulations,  we need city wide green regulations. More trees, more green areas, less concrete, less asphalt, more use of natural ventilation, more water bodies, etc. Building policies remain the biggest way to effect a big change on reducing the UHI present in our cities. As clients, developers and designers, we can equally be motivated by the need to make our city greener through the various ways we act.

More green areas around buildings ensures cooler microclimate (source:

Cooler cities meant cooler environments to live, less heat, less energy consumption, more energy costs savings, better health and thermal conditions etc. etc.

Has this piece broadened your horizon of how cities become hotter than rural areas? Do you wish to build a house or an estate and want to make it as green as possible? Why not get in contact with me.

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