Urban Vulnerability of Waste Workers in Nigerian Cities: The Case of Aba, Nigeria

  • Thaddeus Chidi Nzeadibe
  • Friday Uchenna Ochege


The centrality of waste collection and recycling to the lives of the poor in African cities in the post-2015 development era was the main motivation for this study. Unfortunately, the informal waste economy in Africa is generally excluded from mainstream of urban governance and socio-economic processes. As a result, vulnerabilities abound in the informal waste-based livelihoods. Using a case study of waste workers in the city of Aba in Nigeria, this chapter examines urban vulnerability as a converse to social sustainability of waste workers in Nigerian cities. While noting the relevance of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) 8 and 11 to urban sustainability of livelihoods of informal waste workers, the chapter argues that location within the urban area can be a factor of pickers’ vulnerability while collective organizing and social innovation can be crucial to countering trends of exclusion. It is further argued that development intervention should aim at achieving more inclusive cities as inclusion could be a strong factor in ensuring improved well-being and sustainability of the waste economy in Nigerian cities.


Urban vulnerability Informal economy Waste picking Social innovation Sustainable development goals 



Some aspects of this chapter were drawn from authors’ previous research published in the following journals: City, Culture and Society; Applied Research in Quality of Life; Geography Compass; and Review of African Political Economy. These sources are gratefully acknowledged.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thaddeus Chidi Nzeadibe
    • 1
  • Friday Uchenna Ochege
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of NigeriaNsukkaNigeria
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Environmental ManagementUniversity of Port HarcourtChobaNigeria

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