Sustainable Campaign for Clean Air in Lagos Communities 

Under the slogan of Eko Clean Air, Breathe Clean Air Now, the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency,

 LASEPA, and some private organisations are running a campaign to address air pollution, promote a circular economy while also empowering the vulnerable members of the society for sustainable development. Recently, the team took the movement to Itedo Community, a Lagos suburb in Eti-Osa Local Government Area to enlighten them on the need to protect their environment, Chiemelie Ezeobi reports 

Itedo Community, located off Freedom Way, along Lekki Phase 1, Eti-Osa Local Government Area, is a developing community inhabited by petty traders, artisans, fishermen, farmers and school children.

Recently, on a certain Saturday, the community was unusually busy. The Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), under the Lagos State Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources came around to kick off Eko Clean Air, Breathe Clean Air Now campaign in the community.

While the campaign by LASEPA was targeted at clean air and even proper plastic waste disposal, for the Itedo Community it meant more than that. Even though they promised to key into the campaign, for them, the choice of their community was a sign that the government had not forgotten them.

Many who spoke to THISDAY said it brought a sigh of relief for them that out of all the communities in Lagos, the government chose theirs to kickstart such a laudable initiative. So they trooped out in their numbers, including children, so much so that the provided space was not enough.

High Burden of Air Pollution in Nigeria 

Why was such a campaign for the environment championed with such zeal one might ask? The reason is not far-fetched! Nigeria has the highest burden of fatalities from air pollution in Africa and ranks fourth globally with 150 deaths per 100,000 people attributable to pollution. 

According to 2012 released annual State of the Global Air Report published by the Health Effects Institute (HEI), air quality in Nigeria is among the deadliest anywhere on earth with higher than ambient air pollution death rates as a result of the environmental hazards.

The Lagos Dilemma 

In Lagos alone, which is the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, air pollution is not left out as the WHO recommended  threshold might even be higher given that it’s one of the fastest growing mega-cities.

According to experts, given the urban nature of the state and its rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, it has contributed to the exposure of people to ecological problems and changing climate conditions, with its attendant negative effect on human health. 

In Lagos for instance, an estimated seven million people died from diseases related to indoor and outdoor air pollution in 2012 according to the WHO. 

Fast forward to 2020, a study done by World Bank showed that 65 per cent of deaths were premature and it was caused by air pollution. From that 65 percent almost 70 were children below the age of five. Just last year, 22,500 children died from air pollution in the state and that was 75 per cent of the 30,000 people that died due to the bad environment.

But General Manager of Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), Dr. Dolapo Fasawe, is bent on changing this narrative and turning Lagos into a clean city in line with best global standards. 

How does she intend to do this? The environmental  and public health advocate hopes to put policies and action plans in place to improve air quality in the state. 

Beyond rhetorics, she has moved on to put plans in motion to accelerate interventions targeted at reducing mortality associated with air pollution, one of which is this recent Cleaner Air campaign. 

Causative Factors

Environmental hazards alongside extreme pollution sources like generator fumes, vehicle emissions and crop burning among others are some of the many causes of air pollution.

Other common causes of air pollution included burning of fossil fuels, industrial emission, indoor air pollution, wildfires, microbial decaying process, transportation, open burning of garbage waste, as well as construction and demolition.


Long-term health effects from air pollution include heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases such as emphysema. Air pollution can also cause long-term damage to people’s nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, and other organs.

Short term effects on the other hand include global warming, climate change, acid rain, smog effects, deterioration of fields (contaminated water and gases seep into the earth, changing the composition of soils. That directly affects agriculture, changing crop cycles and the composition of the food we all eat), chemical sensitivity, deterioration in building materials and skin damage. 

Eko for Clean Air Campaign by LASEPA

It was to ameliorate this danger that 

the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), under the Lagos State Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, recently kicked off Eko Clean Air, Breathe Clean Air Now campaign.

While the campaign by LASEPA was targeted at clean air, its key derivatives were hinged on “Poor air quality harms your health, stop the pollution”, “Reduce air pollution, make earth sustainable”, amongst others. 

The message of Eko Clean Air was further re-echoed with a short drama presentation by a popular Nigeria actor, Prince Jide Kosoko who is also the ambassador for “Eko Clean Air project’ and his group. 

The drama emphasised the need to embrace cooking gases as against other methods of cooking like firewood, kerosene stove and charcoal, considering their negative effects on the environment.

At the official kick-off ceremony for the ‘EKO Clean Air’ project, Dr. Fasawe said it was an intervention by the government and some private organisations to address air pollution, promote a circular economy while also empowering the vulnerable members of the society for sustainable development.

She said: “Eko for Clean Air is preaching prosperity, good health, increased GDP and increased productivity for the people of Lagos State. We are currently in Itedo community, and the response has been mind-blowing.”

In his speech, the Commissioner, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello, while unveiling  the Eko Clean Air project, stated that it  will be replicated across all the local government areas of the state in other to improve the quality of air in Lagos State.

He added that: “This campaign is part of the THEMES Agenda of this administration, under the Health and Environment Pillar with the objective of reducing health inequality, promoting proper handling and management of waste so as to encourage healthy lifestyle, creates source of income for a lot of people and also maintain a better and sustainable environment.”

Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental services, Dr. Tajudeen Gaji, the Commissioner commended the agency for its proactive approach towards environmental protection and further described the  partners as eco-friendly organisations who are conscious of the environment and the health of Lagosians.

Also speaking, Managing Director of Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Mr. Ibrahim  Odumboni, commended the improved waste management practice noticed within the area and pleaded with the residents to continue to maintain good environmental attitude

He said that Itedo, being a community on water should pay more attention to their environment by imbibing friendly environmental attitude, just as he encouraged each household within the community to have a waste bin  and embrace sorting of their wastes. Stakeholders that partnered LASEPA to pull this off were 

Lagos State Waste Management Agency, IHS Towers, Nigeria Bottling Company (NBC), Waste Exchange for Plastics, Eco Circle for oil Waste and MRI for electronic waste. 

Pre and Post Assessment for Itedo Community?

On the reason why they chose Itedo community out of all others, the GM said they did air quality study before the intervention and out of the randomly sampled, only 40 per cent understood recycle reuse, only few understood that plastic was not bio-degradable and only  60 per cent understood clean energy.

 “We also did something called the K-A-P: knowledge, attitude and practices, and we realised that a lot of persons did not know the effects of air pollution on health.

“As you can see, the government is teaching the people the practice of waste to wealth by buying the plastic waste, e-waste and used oils from them, thus putting money in their pocket”.

On plans for post assessment, she said LASEPA would return to the community in four weeks to measure the air quality and ascertain their compliance with the practice already established, adding that “If they listen to us, and are practising what we have taught them, the air will be cleaner”. 

Essentially, the assessment of the air quality of the community would be conducted in the next four weeks to ascertain the impact of the eco friendly materials distributed to the residents so as to re-measure and compare with the initial result in other to determine the compliance of the residents to the friendly measures introduced.

Plastic and Dangers Posed

But beyond the clean air campaign, LASEPA also took the plastic awareness campaign to the community. The reason is not far-fetched. Everyday, around 8 million plastics make their way into the ocean and water bodies. With it comes attendant widespread problems affecting the marine environment, threats to ocean health, marine species, food quality and safety, human health, coastal tourism- all which contribute to global climate change. 

Globally, plastic waste management is a critical issue that is needs proper management. According to records, over 300 million metric tons of plastics are produced in the world annually and for Nigeria, about 32 million tonnes of waste are generated per year, of which 2.5 million tonnes are plastic waste. 

Bringing it down to Lagos alone, 9,000 tonnes of waste are generated daily with about 86 per cent of it plastic, consisting bottles and bags, more than half of which end up in landfills, sewers, beaches and water bodies.

The menace of poor management of plastic waste that enters the environment is caused by open dumping, open burning, and disposal in waterways and even on the road. 

Inevitably, these waste pose great dangers to the environment. The environmental challenges they pose include ocean and lagoon debris, Ecosystems degradation, drainage clogging and even flooding.

At Itedo Community, Dr. Fasawe harped on the dangers while noting that she hopes to see lesser plastic bottles on the road because they left behind a permanent plastic recycler for them.

Kicking off her talk, GM Lasepa used a plastic bottle to show the dangers of plastic. Holding one up, she said the plastic represents money and danger. On the danger part, she lamented that it’s not bio degradable so even when buried, it doesn’t decompose. 

For those who burn plastic, she said they only contribute to global warming as the smoke goes to the air and destroys the climate and for those who dispose theirs in drainages or on the roads, she said when rain falls, it’s carried to the sea and destroys the aqua system. 

Expatiating, she said such plastics are swallowed by marine animals like fishes and humans end up buying it, resulting to cancer, high blood pressure and other diseases.

Push for Circular Economy as Way Out of Environmental Waste

But what is the way out? Beyond talking, LASEPA is pushing for a circular economy, especially when it comes to proper disposal of all forms of waste using the “Waste for Trash” method. 

According to LASEPA GM, the process of exchanging trash for cash is seamless as it starts from the collection of wastes  such as pet bottles, used electronics, back oil and other accredited ones.

Then it’s taken to the recyclers, who are positioned in a place (already, Lagos has 700 accredited recyclers). They weigh the waste to determine the worth and then pay accordingly in exchange for the waste. After that, off-takers will recycle and use for chairs, shoes, tyres and other things, hence resulting to ‘Circular Economy’.

With this process, Dr. Fasawe said they hope to curb capital flight as the money will be in the hands of Nigerians and not foreigners who will buy off the plastics, recycle and sell back to Nigerians. 

While enlightening the community on the dangers of non-degradable plastics and uncoordinated waste oil disposal, she said such wastes, if properly handled can be exchanged for cash and also recycled into other usable items, adding that 

 “We considered it necessary at LASEPA to bring this message of Eko Clean Air to this community, following a research carried out within this area. We want the people of Lagos to know that there is nothing called waste, because what is considered as waste is someones else’s treasured raw materials,” she added.

In fact, one of the beneficiaries of the ‘Trash for Cash’  aspect of the ‘Eko Clean Air’ project, Mrs. Monisola Ajayi-Badru, walker away with ₦100,000 from LASEPA in exchange for some bags of pet bottles.

Disclosing that she picked the pet bottles from the community, she encouraged others to embrace the initiative, especially as it will further improve their standard of living by making money from trash.

Walking the Talk with Eco Friendly Materials

To put bite in its campaign, LASEPA also walked its talk by first empowering the community with eco-friendly materials that will boost the campaign for a cleaner air.

The eco friendly materials distributed to the community members include: 500  cooking gas stoves with content, 400 water bottles, 400 rechargeable lights and 400 reusable use bags respectively.

At the kick off, a community borehole was unveiled with treated water.

While the gas was meant to phase out cooking with charcoal, the water bottles were given to encourage less dependence on plastic bottles and sachet water. 

Mindset Change for Itedo Community 

For the Itedo community, this campaign was an eye opener for them. At the end of the exercise, the community members thronged the recycling centres to drop off their waste- from adult to children, they scrambled to drop off their old TV sets, fridge, and even plastics.

In return, they got paid for their efforts. On seeing the truth behind the scheme, they all vowed to keep their community free of plastics. And it was not an empty promise. Right before the guests even left the venue, the community members were seen scrambling to pick up the plastics on the ground to add to their pile for sale.

With their mindsets changed for the better, it is hoped that the post assessment billed to hold a month later would signify tremendous change in their air quality, which in turn will translate to better life for the entire community.

LASEPA at a Glance

According to its website,  LASEPA was established on November 1, 1996 by virtue of the LASEPA Edict No. 9 of 1996 (now Environment Management Protection Law 2017 Part VI)). 

The main thrust of the agency is to protect and improve the environment, assist public and private organisations, industries, businesses and non-governmental organisations to achieve compliance by providing environment-friendly solutions to varied environmental challenges.

The functions of LASEPA impact on the activities of industries, commercial services, public and private sectors, communities and the environment at large and as an implementing organ of the state’s policies on the environment, the agency gives preference to and works hand-in-hand with other relevant stakeholders, as well as national and international agencies on the environment. 

Consequently, LASEPA works under the ambit of national, state and local government laws (on the environment), multilateral treaties, agreements, conventions and protocols entered into by the national government with respect to the environment.

With a vision to build a portfolio of sound environmental management programmes and projects in the development of a sustainable environment in conjunction with other arms of government, regulatory organisations and international agencies, it’s mission is geared towards 

safeguarding the environmental quality that is consistent with the social and economic needs of the state, so as to protect health, welfare, property and quality of life.


The Eko Clean Air project is an intervention by the government and some private organisations to address air pollution, promote a circular economy while also empowering the vulnerable members of the society for sustainable development


We want the people of Lagos to know that there is nothing called waste, because what is considered as waste is someones else’s treasured raw materials

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