Nigerian women crochet bags from plastic waste

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Women in Nigeria make a living from recycling plastic bags and using them to make accessories and household products like baskets for sale.

YOLA, NIGERIA (REUTERS) - Where you see trash, Ms Aishatu Muhammed sees treasure.

Ms Aishatu is part of a group in the north-eastern Nigerian city of Yola that has trained more than 300 women to recycle plastic waste into mats, bags and other colourful accessories.

The Waste to Wealth programme was started in 2012 by the American University of Nigeria.

"This job has really helped me. Now I can pay my children's school fees, I can buy food for my family and also help my relatives through this job," said Ms Aishatu.

"We are working towards doing the right thing, so whenever we see plastic bags we pick them up; it has become a valuable thing now," said another worker, Ms Aisha Muhammed. "Because of us there are few plastic bags in the streets compared to how it was before. The programme has really helped."

The bags sell for between US$3 (S$4.20) to US$47, depending on size and quality.

"We've seen a single woman alone, make over 1.5 million naira (S$6,600) to 2 million naira alone because she was extremely good," says Waste to Wealth programme coordinator Raymond Obindu. "She has bought land, she's got a computer, she has trained her children in school, so we've seen the economic benefits the women are having so the money spreads that way."

Locals are trying to revamp their economy after the seven-year campaign by Boko Haram militants to create an Islamic state, which has uprooted 1.8 million people.

Africa's most populous nation is still struggling to find efficient ways of managing its waste problem and initiatives like this help women find ways to earn an income and provide for their families.

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