The Environment, Waste and You

Honey Olorunsola

Isatou Ceesay stands at a waste dump in the town of Birkama. Mrs Ceesay founded the Women’s Initiative Gambia in 1997. The organisation works with communities across the tiny west African state to address not only the environmental impact of unregulated waste disposal, particularly plastic, but also the empowerment of women in the make dominated society. Over one hundred women are now involved in Isatou’s project.

The health of humans and animals are interlinked with the environment. Majority of infectious diseases that presently affect human health are zoonotic i.e., they originate from animals and occur at the human-animal environment interface. Some of these diseases include Lassa fever, yellow fever and even the almighty coronavirus that also has a zoonotic source. Research has shown that 24% of global death has been linked to the environment which is roughly 13.7million deaths a year. This obviously means that our health is directly proportional to our environment. It also means that a clean environment will bless its inhabitants with good health and vice versa. As individuals, we have the responsibility to stop the spread of infectious diseases from our environment. Let us start with this simple test. When you drink a sachet of water or a bottle of water in public, where do you dispose of the waste? If your answer is a waste bin closest to you, well done. If it’s on the ground or just anywhere, you need to do better.

Some little things like this actually counts. While I was a youth corps member, I was posted to the Eco vanguard group. This group is responsible for environmental health and protection in the community. We worked on different projects like going to the popular markets and roads to clean them up. As beautiful as this might sound, it was so heartbreaking to see that in less than a week from that time, the whole place was a mess yet again. At this point, we knew it was way more than just cleaning up the whole place, we started to sensitize the market women, went to secondary schools in the locality as well to sensitize them on why to keep their environment neat and safe. We didn’t stop there, we also provided them with waste disposal equipment like movable dustbins and some other things.

My point is this, sometimes, we are our own problems. If you decide to dispose of your waste properly and advise your neighbors to do the same, we will definitely have a cleaner environment, and simultaneously, a better health. Like they say, charity begins at home. If you decide to stop dropping waste anyhow on the floor because your domestic staff or your child will come clean it up, then we will be better.

Imagine a world without flood as a result of proper drainage of water. Imagine a world free from malaria and even cholera. Mosquitoes and flies tend to thrive better in an unkempt environment. Dispose your waste properly, observe personal hygiene, sensitize and encourage others to do the same. Your health is dependent on your environment, and you and your environment are totally dependent on you.

Source: Above Whispers

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