Earth Day 2022: US Embassy Cleans Up Karu Waterfalls

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US Earth Day
A cross section of participants after the Karu Waterfalls clean up exercise.

As part of the activities leading up to the 2022 Earth Day, the United States Embassy, Abuja, Nigeria, has cleaned up popular Karu Waterfalls which host a lot of hikers within and around the metropolis.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the exercise at the weekend, the environment, science, technology and health officer, United States of America Embassy, Nigeria, AJ Jagelski, said it was the embassy’s way of doing something for the earth in commemoration of the upcoming Earth Day on April 22, 2022, with the theme “Invest In Our Planet”.

Jagelski said the exercise was borne out of the team’s observation that the waterfalls were getting messy because of human activities around it, leading them to organise the clean-up to tidy up the surroundings.

“So, we are all coming together – government, private sector, NGOs and initiatives like the Clean Energy Demand Initiative, the Global Methane Pledge and others – to partner with the ministries of environment, agriculture and rural development, science and technology, petroleum resources because they have an overarching view of what needs to be done. Sometimes, you need partners to make things happen.

“Today, we have the Ocean Conservancy helping us with the pickup, students and embassy staff. We walked to the waterfall and cleaned up the three waterfalls. Today is symbolic [and shows that] we can make a difference. If people walk together, they can clean up. We have before and after pictures [to show that] it is doable but making it sustainable is where the partnerships come in. However, the most important thing is the choices we make every day, making sure we clean up after ourselves,” he said.

Similarly, the coordinator, US Embassy, Nigeria, Green Stripe Initiative Programme, Chizube Iriemenam, said the embassy and its partners felt it was worthwhile to go out and take care of the environment as Earth Day draws near.

“You know, you see people go out there to hike once in a while or do other activities and we felt it is worthwhile to go out there and clean it up as our way of taking care of our environment,” she said.

Iriemenam pointed out the exercise was not a one-off but a part of other activities lined up by the embassy and carried out once in a while to harp on the importance of keeping the environment clean.

“We have some activities going on as a way of sensitising the people. Within the embassy, we observe retreat once in a while as well as other activities.

“So, when we do that, it is not just a one-time thing. We are creating this awareness and telling people [that] they can take care of the environment,” she stated.

Also, an environmental health scientist, Victoria Adedokun, urged the government to explore other alternatives as substitutes for plastics and less harmful to people and the environment.

She posited that other developed countries of the world have moved from using plastics to paper bags which are more sustainable and friendly to the environment, stressing plastics pose threats to water bodies, soil and humans.

“Most of the plastics reside in water. If you go to the coastline, you will see a lot, some even floating on the ocean and break down after some time and become microplastics and animals in the water feed on them. Later, we pick those fishes and eat them up and they have some effects because some chemicals are incorporated in the production of these plastics which are harmful to men. After all, they are carcinogenic and some of them have a lot of health effects.

“These plastics kill fishes when they ingest them. After some time, the fish float to the top of the river and, when you open them up, you see plastics in them. So, it is very harmful to the water bodies and even when you drop it on the soil it also releases chemicals into the soil, water, air,” she added.

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