A Nigeria-based social enterprise, eTrach2Cash, has engaged 220 low-income women in Bauchi state on waste management and recycling into shoes and bags.
The organization through its sustainable waste management and recycling, with the support from IKI/GIZ, a German-based development organization, has trained and engaged the women through its non-profit project tagged “women re-and up-cycling plastic wastes”.
The Chief Executive Officer of the eTrach2Cash, Salisu Abdullahi, said the project which commenced in June last year kicked off with a series of advocacy and awareness campaigns in the host communities to raise awareness and educate stakeholders on the enormous challenges associated with improper wastes disposal.
According to the official the 220 shortlisted women were trained theoretically and practically in plastic waste management and engaged as champions to help their communities get rid of plastic waste as they ensure its upcycling into other uses.
Malam Salisu said the beneficiaries have successfully learnt how to convert plastic wastes into weaved bags, shoes, bangles, and flower vases.
He said “the main objective is to educate the communities and train women on key issues around plastic wastes and sustainable environment.
He said the low level of awareness people have of sustainable environment and climate change is worrisome.
He lamented that “a lot of people do not actually know that their wastes are “resources” and they can even earn some income from disposing of it rightly, disposing of the wastes rightly means to exchange it for some income as we do”.
The reason why they selected and engaged only women beneficiaries is we understand that women are vulnerable, they are the ones that are mostly financially independent, and we feel men have benefited a lot in our other programs, Malam Salihu said.
We wanted to only engage the female gender to show the abilities they have and how they can also contribute to a sustainable environment, he said.
These training skills can be utilized by the women in their respective homes, he added.
He added that the training emphasis on the need to ensure wastes separation at the source and adopt the 3Rs of wastes Reduction, Reuse and Recycling
He said the advocacy campaigns which were conducted through both the traditional media and in-person engagement with key traditional stakeholders resulted in an increase in interest generated that led to key discussions around the theme of sustainable waste management in general and the way forward in putting all hands on deck to ensure sustainability in the environment.
He said participants and beneficiaries were drawn from across different communities with an interest to partake, showing a clear need to intervene in reducing unemployment within these communities, he added.
Items made from these wastes seem so original and authentic that one cannot tell if they are made from the “wastes” we improperly dispose of. Perhaps, one of the main reasons why so much keen interest is evident in the faces of the women beneficiaries, Malam Salisu said.
Speaking on the sustainability and further support for the beneficiaries, Malam Salisu, confirmed that plans are currently underway to ensure that the trained women are continuously engaged and supported to keep cleaning the environment and also support others.
“This social responsibility is continuous, it is non-stop, as you may notice, other stakeholders have already expressed their interest to keep the impact going, so, we are hoping to keep engaging these beneficiaries through an innovation centre that will even further help them in other areas of business development and entrepreneurship, Salisu Abdullahi said.
In her remarks, one of the trainers, Nafisa Garba, expressed delight that the selected women show a level of passion and commitment to the project.
In her words; “I am happy that we made the right selection because we wanted to empower people who want to also help themselves even after the end of our training. So far, the level of their passion and commitment is awesome, they can use their creativity to turn plastics into resources.
I look forward to furthering training like this where women would be at the forefront of contributing to environmental sustainability, Ms Garba said.
Meanwhile, a beneficiary, Amina Bello, a single mother of three, expressed satisfaction with the skills she acquired and was confident that the new skills have greatly impacted her tailoring skills and would support her earn even more income from her clients infusing “wastes” as raw materials in her business.
Another beneficiary Hafsatu Adamu Teku, thanked the organisers of the training and said she benefited greatly and has never known waste could become useful in this way.
She said she is proud to be a waste champion and will step down the training to her siblings, friends and immediate dependents.
Stakeholders to key in
In what seems to be a replication of almost a similar gesture because of the overwhelming interest generated during the campaigns, different stakeholders have also keyed in to not only support the continuous engagement of these beneficiaries as key champions for their communities but replicate the training in other locations.
The stakeholders involve key governmental and non-governmental organizations such as the Centre for Information Technology & Development (CITAD) and Grassroots Centre Africa.
CITAD has already gone further to select and train 50 more women in Jama`are community in the same Bauchi state, following a similar pattern to the engagement done by eTrash2Cash.