Children, waste and well-being: A critical analysis of socio-environmental justice in almajirai solid waste management in Northern Nigerian Cities

Ambrose O. Iheanacho, Peter O. Mbah, Precious C. Onwuaha, Eberechukwu J. Eze, Thaddeus C. Nzeadibe


Context: Whereas academic discourse on socio-environmental justice (SEJ) globally has focused on race, ethnicity and wealth, and gender inequalities, research on SEJ in relation to children, their well-being and waste management in Africa has remained neglected.This paper focuses on the Almajirai, children in the Islamic educational system, and critically examines SEJ in Almajirai involvement in the solid waste management (SWM) system of cities in northern Nigeria.

Data Source and Method: The study is situated in the city of Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria. Mixed methods approach used for data collection included consultations with key stakeholders, ethnographic and field observations; key informant interviews (KIIs), questionnaire survey of 350 respondents sampled purposively, and a critical review of literature. Percentages were utilized for analysis of quantitative data while quotations and transcriptions were made from interviews.

Findings: Findings indicate that while many Almajirai contribute to environmental well-being through collection, disposal and recycling of waste, they often suffer unbridled socio-environmental injustice in their quest for a livelihood and also for their perceived association with insecurity in northern Nigeria.

Conclusion: In the light of the findings and the overarching juvenile-related sustainable development goals (SDGs) targets, the paper rethinks the role of Almajirai in SWM while articulating possible policy benefits of scaling up engagement with Almajirai in the post-2015 development era.


Almajirai; solid waste management; sustainable development goals; well-being; socio-environmental justice

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