The indiscriminate dumping of disposable face masks, gloves and sanitizer bottles around town as a result of the Coronavirus is not yet a national catastrophe. But the trend is enough to be a concern for Environment protection activists and environmentalists in The Gambia.
The new normal in town is wearing a face mask as the government made facemasks mandatory on people in order to contain the spread of the virus. But the manner they are disposed by many people have begun causing some sanitary and environmental discomforts.
Joe Bongay, Executive Director of Young Volunteers for Environment (YVE)
“I am always concerned about the dangerous consequences of masks, gloves and sanitizer bottles, which will add to the ongoing fight against plastic pollution in the sea. Single-use masks, gloves and bottles of sanitizer shielding us from the spread of COVID 19 are ending up on the streets, in the seas and among wildlife,” says Joe Bongay, Executive Director of Young Volunteers for Environment (YVE).
He said many industrial units have now rushed to produce the much needed PPE’s, hand gloves and other sanitary items to fight the pandemic but little attention has been paid to the impact of this on the environment.
“The use of single plastic hand sanitizer bottles, useable gloves and plastics, if they are not properly disposed, would pose a serious existential threat to the fragile ecosystem of the country and present unwarranted environmental eyesore,” said Muhammed Hydara, founder of Gambia Ocean Heroes; a youth led organization campaigning against beach and anti-littering.
For Fatou Jeng, environmental and climate change activist, warned sanitary items such as hand gloves and face masks should be properly disposed of in order to keep the country clean from waste pollution.
For Fatou Jeng, environmental and climate change activist
“When it comes to our surroundings, we understand that a clean environment is a healthy environment and having an environment where we have masks and hand gloves that are not properly disposed of, and scattered everywhere, would lead to littering. We understand the impact of littering on our environment because littering in the first place is not hygienic and if we have a lot of this without properly disposed, it might lead to some health complications.”
The communications officer at the National Environment Agency (NEA), Alkinky Sanyang, said disposing of hand sanitizer bottles, gloves and facemasks is against the anti-littering laws of the country.