RCE Minna-2013

1. Project Title: 
3. Project partner contact information : 
Nigerian Environmental Society, Minna
Provided the initial financilal support for the project
Main Contact: 
Abdul Husaini abdulhusaini@yahoo.com
5. Project description
Provide a short description of the project including strategies, regional challenges, aims and specific project activities.: 

The research is on the use of used baby nappies/diapers for agricultural / horticultural purposes. The use of water crystals in agriculture is not new, and is well documented. The recycling of used (cheap!) diapers for especially tree-planting and potted plants is practically unheard of here.

To us, any ESD project should not only address the environmental protection and conservation aspect but also raise the interest of the public in environmental issues by highlighting what is in it for them (and their children!). This project (research) which is under the flagship of the RCE Minna is to show how used nappies (or diapers) can serve this purpose, helping to save our environment and the people economically. The idea of this research is to utilize the water-absorbing crystals/powder found in diapers as water absorbents that can sustain plants and reduce water wastage. These water absorbent crystals are also called water crystals, super absorbent polymer, diaper polymer or polyacrylate). From preliminary work we conducted, we have seen that the efficiency of the nappies in retaining water for plant is very significant. This we think can go a long way in solving the ‘unsuccessful’ annual rituals of tree planting campaigns in the northern part of Nigeria that never survive the next dry season due to water shortage. With this method you need less water for the plant.

What is the Benefit of this project?

From the available records and our preliminary searches, used diapers, are a serious waste management problem due to their water retention capability. They can hardly get incinerated thus creating a serious problem in landfills and waste incinerators. By using the used diapers in the manner we outlined in our research, it can solve the environmental effect of the diapers in a very positive way. The environmental benefits of using the water crystals found in the diapers, if well publicised, can help the government in both its environmental sanitation campaigns and poverty alleviation of the public. Water crystals are not harmful to the soil or plants, while any organic waste in used diapers is very biodegradable and actually good for the plants.

How does this falls under our flagship project.

The idea is to bring this knowledge to the public domain and let the people know the benefit of using the used nappies in raising seedlings and other aforestation programmes. Various little incentives from the waste collectors such as through reduced costs for collection can encourage the people (diaper users) to separate the nappies from other waste before it is dried to kill the bacteria and taken for agricultural use. This can serve as a source of livelihood to some people and would definitely help in improving our environment by cutting down on the costs associated with watering young tree seedlings. It would cut down the frequency of watering and reduce water loss due to evaporation. It would also reduce the quantity of diapers in waste dumps, landfills and incinerators. It would therefore save water for other uses, and create employment. The water crystals biodegrade within 3 to 5 years, by which time they would have served their main function of helping young plants survive the first 2 dry seasons/years until they are bigger and more self-reliant.

6. Project status
On Going
The project is in the second phase. The first being the small scale demonstration in restricted environment (potted). This phase has been completed and final assessment taken.
The second, which is now ongoing, is the up scaled and open ground demonstration of the research on land provided by a secondary school
8. Tagging
Africa and Middle East