Nigeria has a coastal litter problem: It’s time to clean up
Author: Oluniyi O Fadare
Over the past decade, marine litter has become a growing global problem which poses an increasingly serious threat to the environment, economies and human health. The global nonprofit organisation Ocean Conservancy repod that in 2021 about 9,760,227 litter items were collected over nearly 30,000km of the world’s coastal areas. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines marine litter as items that have been made or used by people and discarded into the sea or rivers, or on beaches. It includes items brought indirectly to the sea by rivers, sewerage, storm water or winds, or accidentally lost at sea in bad weather. Other sources include industrial emissions, discharge from storm water drains and untreated municipal sewage. In a similar study conducted in 2016 on lagoon beaches in Ghana, high litter deposition (49,457 items) during the rainy season was repod. This was attributed to river runoff and flooding. Most of the litter was plastic. Nigeria and Ghana are both on the Gulf of Guinea, which has a coastline of about 6,000km from Senegal to Angola. The Gulf coast has the highest population density in tropical Africa. It is also the site of growing commercial and industrial activities. It is a shipping zone for oil and gas, as well as goods to and from central and southern Africa. The region lacks efficient waste disposal and management mechanisms and policies. All these factors help explain the state of the beach cleanliness and the likely increase in the problem if nothing is done about it.