Over the weekend, I caught up with the CEO of Rehoboth Recyclers, a Lagos based waste management start up committed to carrying out activities that help us adapt to climate change.
Please introduce yourself Sir?
I am Ikokwu Chidozie Ikemba, a psychologist by training and an environmentalist by passion and the founder of Rehoboth Recyclers.
Briefly tell us a bit about your activities as regard the world’s adaptation to Climate Change?
When my organization, Rehoboth Waste Management Services, came into existence in 2012, we were fully into collection and disposition of waste with no available dump sites which led to illegal dump sites around the state.
Early 2013, I was confronted with a conscious provocative reality when I realized that we were not solving the problem of waste but contributing to a more destructive activity which leads to global warming. This led to a refocus and strategic planning to change this trend.
My organization became an intellectual contributor to the annual ‘world environment day’ which was vigorously pursuing a ‘zero waste’ pragmatic policy. Leveraging on this initiative was the birth of ‘Rehoboth Recyclers’ which major goal was to integrate her host community into the scope and practice of recycling through a social benefit venture.
We also introduced an environmental advocacy initiative tagged ‘educate them first’ to further educate and promote the message of protecting the earth from hazardous activities. With our long-term interaction with the host community we have come to understand that most of the improper disposition of waste (burning, dumping in drainage, dumping in rivers and illegal dump sites) are mere exhibition of ignorance on climate change.
Hence, we have pushed this message through the new media, radio stations and street walks. We hope that more organizations would join us in this regard though!
Please tell us about the acceptance of your crusade or activities with the general populace?
I must confess at first, there was this general belief that we were out to propagate some government policy that will cough out money from the citizens’ coffers but when we highlighted the health implications of their ill actions on the environment and how it affects the climatic conditions we experience presently, gradually there was an atmosphere of acceptance.
We must not relent because the communities don’t understand but we must continue with various advocacy initiatives to educate the people on the effect of their actions on the environment.
What do you think the government, individual and private sector can do either individually or together to further combat Climate Change?
The National Orientation Agency must be more proactive in its duties in educating the general public on why we have harsh weather which is caused by man’s actions on the environment. Enlightenment programs must move into top gear and be packaged in different major languages to reach the rural areas. Non-governmental organizations already into such programs should be encouraged through various policies which will move other to join.
Individuals must fully understand that we don’t have another home (for now) as such do everything in the right healthy environmental perspective to cushion the effect of actions that might endanger our only home which is the mother earth.
The private sector mostly the industries must begin to adopt operations that are environmentally friendly like when we had to refocus our engagement in our host community, Also, every organization should take their CSRs away from tokens to programs that will further educate and encourage the host communities to adopt the message and understanding of climate change.