Thursday, February 8, 2018

Gutter Drain Goalies

Image result for dirty storm drain

Environmental & Science Education
Solid Waste
Water & Watersheds
Storm Drains
Edward Hessler

Some of you may be familiar with the Center For the Global Environment's/Metro WaterShed Partners storm drain protection program. If you don't see here. A recent story on NPR by Malaka Gharib is about a smaller but similar effort in Nigeria.

Chris Junior Anaekwe lives in the state of Anambra in southeastern Nigeria. He is a graduate of the University of Nigeria and following that he was a participant in a "a one-year program...called the National Youth Service Course," where he "worked with the Ministry of Economic Development in Akwa Ibom state."  His work involved the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals." These "address issues like global poverty and inequality."

When Anaekwe returned home, "a filthy gutter full of bottles and cans and trash, all covered in black gunk" caught his attention. (This sounds somewhat all too familiar doesn't it?). The gutter is not small and surrounds a large market in the port city of Onitsha, a city noted for the amount of dust particles in the air which likely contribute to the "gunk." It is known as "the city with the world's worst air." Anaekwe was able to convince a small group of local boys, "ages 14 to 16," to remove this collection of materials pitched there by others. This was a personal effort and not officially connected to the UN SDGs.

Anaekwe describes his motivation for getting kids to do the work in these words. "They are the ones throwing the trash in the gutter. They live around the area. If outsiders see the locals throw trash in the gutter, then they're going to do it, too. I wanted the kids to be the ones to clean it up. I believe it will go a long way to teach them a lesson, that they are the protectors of their own environment."

This leads naturally to project evaluation even at this early stage. When asked about whether things have changed, Anaekwe said "There's kind of like this new rule that applies to everybody living within that area. Throw your trash in the dustbin yourself.  When you do that it reduces the rate of the gutter being filled up."

Gharib's story which includes an interview with Anaekwe, photos of him and some of the young men, as well as a picture of the gutter (Icky stuff) may be read in Gharib's story in Goats and Soda. Another story with an image of the market may be found in The Guardian.

By the way, Anaekwe became a viral sensation after a former colleague, Chimezie Anajama posted the story.

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