Analysis of women‟s participation in waste picking and solid waste management as a whole has immense socioeconomic and environmental benefits and also can serve as a basis for identifying problems and making relevant recommendations in Sokoto Metropolis, Nigeria. The objectives of this research are to: review gender participation in solid waste management; review the solid waste management policies and programmes in Sokoto metropolis; assess the nature of women‟s participation in municipal solid waste management in Sokoto metropolis and the outcomes; identify problems and make recommendations. A total of 328 women participants in waste picking among other solid waste management were studied in the six districts covered in Sokoto metropolis using cluster and purposive sampling techniques. Tables, percentages, and charts were used for the analysis. The results showed that majority of the women waste participants within the six districts of Sokoto Metropolis were less than 45 years old. As noted, majority of the people involved in solid waste activities, as indicated by the survey results were married with 53.7% and were mostly of Hausa/Fulani ethnic composition with 60.4%. Scrap metal, assorted bottles and farmyard manure, are the major materials that attract women solid waste entrepreneurs in Sokoto metropolis. About 57.6% of the respondents collect less than 200 kg of valuable waste materials every week. In contrast, 23.8% comprising some women scrap metal collectors, major dealers and those involved in compost business collect above 600 kg of waste valuables. about 65% of the respondents usually partake in waste activity on their own ranging from house to house collection of solid waste recyclables, to waste picking on the street, offices etc. field investigation also revealed that about 68% of women do collect more of solid waste materials e.g. glass bottles, assorted plastics, cans, among others even more than the opposite sex. The study notes that waste materials are mostly conveyed using locally made cart (Kura) and only a few are conveyed with car for disposal to end users. Women participants surveyed expressed that most of the solid waste materials are utilized locally throughout the study area. Interestingly, the benefits derived by some of the respondents include: family support; multiple source of income; earning a living/self sustenance; employer of labor among others. The average monthly income generated especially among some of the actors from scrap metal/bottles and farmyard manure (compost) collection was discovered to be above N6, 000 which is more than the salaries paid to some workers even civil servants (minimum wage of N 18, 000 per month) as their take home in the study area. Also, about five (5) women earn up to about N90, 000 in a month. As high as 84.8% of sampled solid waste participants in the study area claimed that the government never came to their aid. However, the major challenges faced by solid waste entrepreneurs especially women in Sokoto Metropolis are categorized into: fluctuation in prices of waste valuables; high cost of transportation; inadequate labor force; poor or absent of union leaders etc.
It is concluded that participation of women in solid waste management without gender bias contribute more to waste management thus it is suggested that waste activity being an informal sector should be transformed into a more formal sector and formulating a more functional union leaders that will take their plea to appropriate government authorities which will in turn bring about better organization of the sector, hence making it more attractive and therefore, creating ample opportunities for the unemployed in Sokoto and beyond.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The problems of solid waste management in Nigerian cities have resulted from rapid increase in urban populations, rapid industrialization and changing lifestyle. Many urban areas also generate solid wastes beyond what they can manage, and this is closely associated with economic profiles and background. In many places, municipalities spend 20-50% of their available re-current budget on solid waste management which normally generates marginal results. Yet, it is also common that 30-60% of all the urban solid wastes in developing countries are uncollected, and less than 50% of the population is served.
One of the critical areas that needs to be addressed when reviewing the impact of solid waste management is the gender issue. In all societies, women have a different role from that of men. As mothers and homemakers as well as educators, entrepreneurs and producers, women more than men, have to play multiple roles. The demands of these multiple roles in poorer countries place women, particularly the non-elite ones, at a special disadvantage (United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNDFW, 1998). This problem is huge considering the fact that women constitute 60% of the world‟s one billion poor and out of 1.3 billion people living in absolute poverty, over 70% are women.
Research according to Scheinberg et. al., (1998) has shown that across many cultures, women handle waste in their homes although the richer women delegate this task to servants.