I am Bright Lemchi, a social activist and an SDGs ambassador working to help communities reclaim their neighborhoods from unmanaged waste.  The recognition as Top 100 African Conservationist made me happy and it amplified our conservation voice in society.

Our work is on waste management, sanitation, and recycling. Uncollected trash is a huge problem in developing countries like Nigeria, the waste mountain grows up to 10,000 tons every day, and the traditional waste collection by local authorities has proved unreliable. The goal is to use the waste collection as a way of bringing about social change in the poorest neighborhoods in River’s state and use it as a valuable raw material for manufacturing. We have created a sustainable plan to ensure that a percentage of the value goes back to the residents who collect the waste.

Our motivation stems from the effects we experience from climate change and the challenges we will face if we do not take care of our planet. Waste causes pollution, disease, and environmental crisis when it is not properly disposed of, the good news is, most of the waste produced in Africa can be recycled and reused to create new products. Sadly, only 10% of the waste generated every day in our communities is collected, the rest usually ends up in illegal dumpsites, gutters, and drainages. We collect waste from residents, sort, compress, and supply them to manufacturers. Also, we turn organic waste into home cooking gas for residents in my community.

The project yielded Gowasteline Companies, a youth-led waste recycling plant that has been organizing waste to wealth workshops for women & men and students in secondary & tertiary institutions in Nigeria. We have trained over 3,000 youths across Africa and impacted about 730 youths. Last year November 2020, we trained over 1,800 secondary school students in Rivers, Delta, and Nasarawa state. This organization strives to raise environmental stewards and waste subscribers (collectors) in the community and beyond. The waste subscribers programme allows residents to be involved in waste collection activities and  return they earn monthly/quarterly stipends when they turn in their waste to us.

Our future reads, starting plastic to paving bricks production and setting up one biogas mini plant in every community in the state. We hope to create employment for the youths, generate revenue for the government, and change the old narrative of doing things by adapting to green and more sustainable eco-friendly ways. Partnership with like-minded institutions will be our pursuit in the coming months.

My message to other conservationists – Start small, think big and grow bigger. “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all”. You must believe in yourself and see yourself as the solution provider to the problems around you. Don’t forget, wealth is hidden in problems solving, therefore, you must think of solutions and possibilities.

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