Nigeria’s most populous city, Lagos, is facing a large-scale waste management problem that is threatening both health and environment. To tackle this problem, entrepreneur Bilikiss Adebiyi launched Wecyclers — a social initiative that encourages low-income households to recycle their waste through garbage collectors on cargo bikes.
Lagos’ waste problem is one of the biggest urban challenges of the city. On a daily basis, it deals with ten thousand tons of trash that clogs the streets and contaminates the soil and groundwater. About sixty percent of the people living in the slums of Lagos don’t have access to municipal trash collection. Therefore, many residents in slums dispose their trash into unmanaged garbage heaps.
Wecyclers aims to change that behavior by an incentive-based system that communicates through SMS and rewards people for recycling based on the weight of their trash. Earned points can be traded for rewards, varying from household goods to basic everyday items. Cargo bicycles are driving through narrow streets in dense low-income neighborhoods on a regular schedule to pick up recycling goods, which then will be sold to local recycling processors.
Wecyclers gives households a chance to create value from their waste, while empowering local community engagement which has been neglected for a long time because of issues of bureaucracy and human capital. The impact of Wecyclers seems to be big: not only is being dealt with the waste problem in slums, but it also has created more jobs for the local community. For this reason, Bilikiss has the desire to build a future economy that is based on waste. She believes this is possible not only in Nigeria, but also in other developing countries.
Pop-Up City is an official media partner of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 2016. Wecyclers is feature is featured in the ‘Urban Africa: What’s Next?’ exhibition.