The government has acknowledged the role of waste pickers, saying they are critical in waste management.
Mrs Anastasia Akhigbe, Head, Waste Control Division, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) disclosed this at a 3-Day training for waste pickers in Abuja.
The training was organised by the Initiative for Advancement of Waste Management in Africa (W.A.S.T.E Africa) and funded by Coca-Cola.
It was also supported by Chanja Datti, Abuja Environmental Protection Board, Trash Monger, NESREA and Fair Plastic Alliance.
They were trained in the areas of Health and safety and financial literacy.
Mrs Akhigbe noted that waste pickers play a crucial role in keeping the environment neat.
She said the is to enhance their protection, safety and future financially.
“They help to protect the environment and need to protect themselves too.
She said they would be educated on the importance of nosemasks, handgloves and foot wears to protect their bodies.
She advised the trainees to organise and come under licensed waste collectors to be able to access more government recognition and support.
The Managing Director, Chanja Datti, Ms. Olufunto Boroffice in an interview noted that waste pickers are critical in waste management in the country, hence they need to be protected.
“Our aim is to protect the 10000 waste pickers we have identified. They are a critical part of waste management infrastructure. They are the ones that go round the dump site picking materials.
“Lots of them don’t have ID cards, bank account, health insurance and safety training.
“People look down on them. If we don’t protect them, we will be leaving on the dump site.
She said 500,000 waste pickers are being targeted for training across the country.
Speaking too, a representative of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), Mr Abubakar Mohammed said the training will enhance social inclusion of the trainees and make them relevant to themselves.
Two of the trainees, Comfort Gambo and Rifkatu Belga commended the organisers and said it help them support their families financially.