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Environmental contamination, public hygiene, and human health concerns in the Third World: the case of Nigerian environmentalism.
ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR. 1996 Sep; 28(5):614-46.Recent evidence suggests that people in Third World countries have similar environmental concerns as their counterparts in developed countries. This paper examines responses to a public opinion poll in Nigeria, discusses the development of national environmental policy, and provides a theoretical explanation for the evolution of Nigerian environmentalism. Although the Nigerian government has a bureaucracy for dealing with environmental issues, only 1% of the total budget is allocated to environmental management. Nigeria is experiencing soil erosion, deforestation, problems related to urban solid waste generation, industrial pollution, illegal importation of toxic chemicals, and uncontrolled dumping of hazardous materials. Rural ecological problems differ from urban ones. Environmental contamination and poor sanitation result in soil- and water-borne diseases. Several environmental groups operate at the state, regional, and national levels. Membership appears to be among elites. The anthropocentric belief in human supremacy over nature led to the world view known as the Dominant Social Paradigm (DSP); in western societies, the Human Exceptualism Paradigm (HEP), and in nonwestern societies, the Traditional Environmental Paradigm (TEP). In 1992 the Gallop International Institute conducted a Health of the Planet Survey in 24 industrialized and nonwestern nations. Findings in Nigeria indicate that 76% of the adult population sampled considered the economy the most important problem. Only 1% identified the environment as the most important. On specific environmental questions, 45% rated environmental problems in Nigeria as very serious, and 87% said they were personally very concerned. Global environmental problems were of lesser importance than local problems. Although the survey did not identify the sources of environmental concerns, the evidence suggests the persistence of traditional environmental conservation values.