First Person: Adenike Adeiga, Lagos Lagoon Waterkeeper, Nigeria - Waterkeeper

First Person: Adenike Adeiga, Lagos Lagoon Waterkeeper, Nigeria

By: Guest Contributor

As told to Ellen Simon, staff writer at Waterkeeper Alliance.

I’m a fisheries biologist, but I’ve shifted much of my focus to human behavior.

People believe that if they’ve been doing something for years, like littering the shore with plastic bottles, or open defecation, it will never contaminate the water. I hear, “This is how we’ve been living, and we’ve been living free.”

Our organization was founded by Felix Abayomi — who is a zoologist and the executive director, and also heads Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative — in 2017. We have been focused on changing that behavior, and changing minds. We have to show people the connection between their actions and the quality of their water. That’s one of our main tasks.

We plan on building toilets using plastics recovered from the beach and encouraging people who grew up with open defecation to use them.

Another important task is providing government officials with the knowledge they need to protect the water and its wildlife.

We trained a few government officials in the Department of Biodiversity and Wetlands on how to monitor sea turtles, how to protect them when they nest on the beach, how to keep the water clean. We’re winning them over to our side.

Before, no one in government heard our voice. Now, we know them, we have access to them, we can call them. And we do.

Nature belongs to all of us. It’s intergenerational. When you misuse it, you compromise the needs of others and that of future generations.