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Opinion: More Than Just A Waste By Tony Joy

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Tony at one of the craft villages

The problem of waste management in Nigeria is an absolute obvious. With waste littered all around in gutters, dumpsites, bush paths, paths, and on the main road. This is as a result of the improper waste disposal system in the country. 

Within this reality of waste management is also poverty which is becoming a threat to the country’s economy and not to mention unemployment. It is strange to note that a country which churns out over 32million tons of waste annually still has a large number of its population living in abject poverty. 

Meanwhile, this waste can be transformed into means of creating livelihood structure for the unemployed. The problem of unemployment, poverty and poor waste management system in the country has been the key concern of M.A.D Initiative. 

M.A.D (Making A Difference) Initiative is a social enterprise in Nigeria that focuses on seeing a future where waste becomes the solution to other social issues. To achieve this they engage and equip young people to creatively use waste to create solutions. Hence, the organization preaches the message of environmental sanitation; clean up dumpsites; spark up interest in reuse and recycling through conferences; engage secondary schools to think of how waste can be a source of income to them as well as encourage greatly the use of waste bins. 

Having carried out 15 clean ups in various states through its amazing volunteer network, the organization is setting up the first ever building in South-western Nigeria built with waste. 

The building made from pet bottles and tyres is a craft village which will serve as the office for the organization, a training hub for how to create wealth and art from waste and finally a craft centre (M.A.D Kraft). M.A.D Kraft, the enterprise arm of the organization focuses on engaging women and girls within communities to create wealth and art out of waste, while also keeping their environment clean. This idea was borne out of the fact that women and girls are majorly at the receiving end on the scale of global poverty. Hence, if women and girls are taught to use waste productively and are engaged to work with the enterprise, they will end up making income daily which is needed for their survival. 

Imafon is a town in Akure, Ondo State and has been chosen  as a community to kick start the process. It is a community noted withwissues around women and girls not having a means of survival. Young girls within the community are predisposed to teenage pregnancy as a result of poverty, and most women in the community are either farmers or doing nothing but waiting on their husbands to return from the farm. With the Craft village in the community, women and girls within this community will be engaged to create out of waste while also making an income. Some of the products to be made on site include hand bags, backpacks, jewelries, organic fertilizers, foot mats, table mats and paper bags all from waste. 

With building of the Craft village out of waste, the organization would have utilized over 6000 pet bottles and 500 tyres. This kind of housing has its advantages, some of which are homes made from recycled plastic bottles, such as the typical round shaped Nigerian homes, are bullet-proof and earthquake resistant. They are also fire-proof while keeping a snug year-round temperature of 64 degrees F. With over 500 million plastic beverage bottles disposed in Nigeria yearly 83,000 low income houses can be built to combat the challenges of housing. 
The organization strongly believes that if waste is properly managed, it can be a solution to so many social issues faced by the country presently. It is more than just waste they say.

Tony Joy, Founder/Executive Director of M.A.D Initiative lives in Akure, Ondo state and can be reached via teamwearemad@gmail.com

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