Ecocykle: Empowering underprivileged youth to combat plastic pollution and foster green job creation

To address the significant waste management and environmental pollution challenges while empowering out-of-school children to acquire the skills needed to bridge the knowledge and poverty gap in Nigeria, Ecocykle Development Foundation trained 150
out-of-school teenagers on how to use plastic waste to produce eco-bricks.

The Education and Recycle in Slum Initiative is a project that aims to educate and empower out-of-school children living in slums with the knowledge and skills on sustainable waste management needed to influence positive behavioural change and inspire waste management solutions amongst young people toward achieving zero waste and pollution-free society. The project is bridging the gap between local innovation and global knowledge.

Image of participants during the practical session

The exercise, which took place at Gwani Atiku “Tsangaya”, Dadin Kowa, under Lafia Local Government Area (LGA) in Nasarawa State, Nigeria, brought together 150 teenagers between the ages of 10 to 20 years of age to acquire the skills, which is
expected to trigger their creativity to become solution providers and cover the existing unemployment gap in the country.

According to the Executive Director of Ecocykle Development Foundation, Mr. Aliyu Umar Sadiq stated that the project is currently empowering the out-of-school children in Nigeria including the Almajiris.

“Our expectation is for the project to sparkle and harness the creativity of these young teenagers into developing sustainable solutions which can directly reduce waste pollution in communities, create green jobs and reduce the poverty rate,” he stated. 

The circular economy enthusiast also called on the Nasarawa State Government to revive the existing recycling plants in the state to serve as educational and capacity-building hubs for the people of Nasarawa State, which can foster green economic development while boosting environmental protection in the State.

Aliyu also stated that his organization, Ecocykle, over the next few years, intends to train more than 1,000 young people to acquire the skills needed to create value from waste.

In his opinion, Peace Kpaka, the OYA Recycle community volunteer in charge of the Lafia, highlighted that the intervention was to reach out to and empower children and youth in rural communities with skills aimed at fostering an inclusive circular economy and fostering sustainable development. 

“The children have been highly participatory with super thought-provoking questions which reflect the magnitude of their creative thinking ability to solve problems with the right information, knowledge and skills,” he stated. 

Ms. Lauritta Boniface, Director of Programmes and co-founder at Ecocykle Development Foundation, expressed her feeling of fulfillment having observed the impact that this project was having on the children. 

“So far, we have trained about 400 children under the OYA Recycle project and I am overwhelmed by the impact that the project is having on the children that we have trained,” she stated. 

The coordinator of Mallam Atiku Sangaya, Muhammad Sharifudeen, appreciated the Ecocykle Development Foundation for its foresight and concern to equip teenagers in slums and stated that it is high time for young people and the Government to think outside the box towards developing programmes and policies that foster skills acquisition amongst young people to enhance job creation and environmental protection. 

By Aliyu Sadiq