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1.1          Background of the Study

            Open air market serves as an institution for the exchange of goods and services, a place for actualizing economic desire (Debra, 2071). Open air markets play a very vital role in the economic life of the people especially in the chain of commodity distribution. It is also a significant cultural environment which helps to strengthen the economic base of a town and also sustain the tax base of the local authority. According to Berry and Muli (2007) markets are not only economic institutions but also serve as social entities, which help to forge links between people of diverse ethnic groups, racial backgrounds and cultural traits and also serves as meeting places for socio-cultural, religious and political activities. Open air markets provide a physical setting for interaction between urban and rural cultures especially in West African settings with poor development policies.

            Open air markets are places set aside by the government where people meet to buy and sell goods (Debra, 2017). They are public spaces where food, apparel, home accessories, plants and other merchandise are sold. They are full of colours, smells, sounds of people from different ethnic backgrounds who walk and look for good deals. In most African countries open air markets are faced with poor states of roads, drainage systems and water supply systems. Markets could be categorized as traditional or modern, based on factors such as goods sold, services provided, and location, period of operation, physical settings among others. Similarly, markets have been classified according to their temporal specialisation. This gives a particular market its unique characteristics. Thus, markets are divided into daily, periodic and special markets. According to Taiwo and Ajayi(2013) daily markets form part of major market centres.

Based on the schedule time agreed by community, daily markets have a large volume of trade once or twice a week and share some characteristics of periodic markets. Periodic markets are held regularly on one or more fixed days each week or month in smaller market centres. Special markets are often held at annual fairs and may be held from one day to one week to three months. Cooper (2008) observed that in any settlement, the most popular traditional market is the king’s market, which is adjacent to the palace. This is obvious in the city structure of Nigeria’s traditional urban areas. The king’s market usually predates every other ones. However, it is not necessarily the largest traditional market as things are changing from the traditional to the modern market (Muli, 2007). This view according to Cooper, (2008) is evident in the metropolitan areas where there are many markets established through urban planning to reduce congestion. He further opined that women are the predominant traders there, as trading is a good profession for women because it is so flexible. Daily markets are held between 8am and 6pm. This makes them popular, as they are open for the longest number of hours. Some daily markets specialize in the transaction of specific goods while some trade in a wide range (variety) of goods. These characteristics make buyers patronize them at any time of the day. According to Hodder and Ukwu (1999) one of the most striking features of daily markets which differentiates them from the periodic markets is that they show clear correlation in their location with the distribution and hierarchy of settlements. Belgaum (2012) re-affirmed the fact that majority of traders in traditional markets operate on daily basis while only very few of the traders operate on periodic basis.

The interaction between human health and the environment has been extensively studied and environmental risks have been proven to significantly impact human health, either directly by exposing people to harmful agents, or indirectly, by disrupting life-sustaining ecosystems (WHO, 2009). Although the exact contribution of environmental factors to the development of diseases and death cannot be precisely determined, the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that thirteen million deaths annually are attributable to preventable environmental causes (WHO, 2009). The report also estimates that 24% of the global disease burden (healthy life years lost) and 23% of all deaths (premature mortality) are attributable to environmental factors, with the environmental burden of diseases being 15 times higher in developing countries than in developed countries, due to differences in exposure to environmental risks and access to healthcare. The intensification of agriculture, industrialization and environmental pollution as well as overpopulation is the most severe driving forces in the environmental effects of open air markets. For areas still developing, major environmental hazards to health are associated with widespread poverty and severe lack of public infrastructure, such as access to drinking water, sanitation, and lack of healthcare as well as emerging problems of industrial pollution. Whatever may be the location, the open air market space is very limited (Taiwo, 2013).

             The effects of open air markets on the environment are mostly as a result of human activities in the area. For instance, on local market days, the whole open market area becomes a congested place full of temporary shops, spread on both sides of the road (Helloakwaibom, 2014). This already congested space becomes unmanageably suffocating and unpleasant when a large crowd of buyers comes in. The result of this can be seen in the form of air and noise pollution for about five to six hours of market time. The existence of markets in Essien Udim is expedient due to the fact that commercial activities are the back-bone of several economies, enabling people to buy and sell and transact their businesses so that life could go on normally and smoothly. However, lack of control in the proliferation of markets and trading spells doom for such centres due to the inherent risks. Eighmy (2002) also confirmed the encroachment of the open spaces by market and service industries as one of the greatest problems facing Nigerian in recent times. On the other hand, one factor that is concomitant with open air markets is the generation of wastes, which if not well managed will increase public health risks. These wastes include animal wastes, human wastes, equipment wastes and wastes from several food products sold in such markets. In many developing countries like Nigeria, proper hygiene in open air markets has not been a major consideration; hence, markets spring up sporadically without any attention to environmental sustainability in terms of provision of proper refuse dumps and public toilets. In order to forestall such occurrences as food poisoning, the importance of cleanliness of market environments cannot be overemphasized. Gellar cited in Fadamiro (2010) added that “human behaviour contributes significantly to the degradation of our environment and certain changes in human behaviour can, on the other hand contribute significantly to environmental protection. Many studies carried out in some market centres confirmed the influence of the people on the maintenance and conservation of the market environment”.

             The demand for environmental amenities is unlimited but the resources are limited. The increasing population in rural areas has actually heightened the pressure on its facilities and environment as well as those of the open air markets and their environment. Environmental degradation which is a product of economic forces also creates new problems. Consequent upon the volume of activities taking place daily, especially in leading foodstuffs and general goods markets in Obon Annang Market (Ukana), Affiong Etor Market (Ikpe Annang) and Edet Market (Urua Akpan), all in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, much refuse is generated. These refuse dumps remain part of the surroundings of sellers for a long time, decomposing with strong stench, blocking the roads and preventing ease of movement in and out of the markets. In many nations of the world today, people and industries pollute rivers, streams, and lakes through dumping of waste materials (Ogunbameru & Rotimi, 2006). Consequently, the dumping of refuse on the land leads to environmental pollution in the form of air, water and land pollution. Land pollution caused by refuse and sewage produces offensive odour and an ugly sight. This affects the oxygen in the air and perhaps accounts for one reason why air pollution, according to the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) (2009), is one of the most common forms of pollution throughout the world. Again, poor refuse and sewage disposal management contaminates the well through dirty flowing water and pollutes the water with which meals are prepared in market restaurants as well as the water in-take of individuals. The heaps of dirt further prevent the flow of water into other surface wells thus discouraging the digging of additional wells thereby making available water unsafe for drinking. Shallow wells which serve as the primary source of water supply in the open markets are polluted by the dirty water that flows in from dirty gutters. All these can predispose marketers and their wards to water-borne diseases like typhoid, dysentery, diarrhea, cholera and other physical discomforts such as stench and ugly sights of refuse dump.

           On daily basis, one can hear the blasting of music from different areas in the market. Noise pollution is caused by the vendors shouting to advertise their products and loudspeakers blasting in full volume. Ear drums and communication skills of those around the areas are affected. Waste disposal is also a major cause for concern. It is against this back drop that the study seeks to assess the environmental effects of open air market in Essen Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State Nigeria, and recommend appropriate measures for tackling such issues.

1.2   Statement of Research Problem

Globally, open air market existence has served humanity over time and space. Humans have existed with the consciousness of buying and selling at different places and time irrespective of the location of where of where these activities take place. Open air markets are a gathering of sellers and buyers at an appointed place and time, usually between 0800hours and 1800hours. Essien Udim Local Government Area has eight local market days namely Obo, Uruabom, Ekpa, Edet, Editaha, Atim, Ofiongetor and Edetobo. The open-air markets usually attract a large number of sellers and buyers. The establishment of open air markets at strategic location in Essien Udim LGA not only boosts the socio economic lives of the people and increases the volume of economic activities in the area, it also enhances food security, political awareness, cultural identity and economic boosting.        

However, these activities have resulted to degrading the environment around the market which directly or indirectly has affected the lives of people who dwell within and around the area. Environmental effects of open air market is evident in the lives of the people and surroundings when they are seen parking their vehicles, tricycles, bicycles and wheelbarrows haphazardly, resulting in the blockage of access roads. This causes congestion and hinders easy access to the markets. The influx of people on market days without organized traffic management system puts more pressure on traffic movement for both pedestrian and vehicle. Less attention of people’s disposition to clean and safe environment in developing countries, especially Nigeria as well as in Essien Udim is a major challenge to the maintenance and sustenance of hygienic market environment.  Wearing of nose mask, covering their ears when they walk past a DJ Jockey, taking another route to the market which may be far as against the nearest route, relocating their stores/shops along roadside or elsewhere within/outside the market vicinity and also the degradation of the beauty of the roads within and around the market are all manifestation of these environmental effects. Despite the governments’ intervention programmes, these evidences from the people and surroundings are on the increasing scale. It is against this manifestations and backdrops that investigations needs to be carried out on the effects of open air market in  Obon Annang, Affiong Etor and Edet Market in Essien Udim LGA in Akwa Ibom State

1.3       Research Questions

i.          What are the operational procedures and economics of open air market?                                   ii.    What are the functions and types of open air market?                   

iii.        What are the causes of environmental degradation in open air market?

iv.        What is the relationship between the causes of open air market and environmental degradation?

v.        What are the efforts in preventing the effects of open air market on the environment?        

1.4       Aim and Objectives of the Study

      The aim of this study is to assess the environmental effects of open air market in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. To achieve the following aim, the objectives are to:

i.          Assess the operational procedures of the open air markets in Essien Udim LGA.

ii.         Examine the functions and types of open air markets.

iii.        Examine the causes of environmental degradation in the open-air markets.

iv.        Determine the relationship between open air market and environmental degradation

v.         Assess the efforts to prevent the effects of open air markets on the environment.

1.5       Research Hypothesis

H0:       There is no significant relationship between open air market and environmental      degradation in Essien Udim Local Government Area.

H1:         There is significant relationship between open-air markets and environmental          degradation in Essien Udim Local Government Area.         

1.6       Significance of Research Study

Environmental problems such as flooding, improper waste disposal, pollution of all kinds are environmental issues related to open air markets. This study will create awareness to the residents and environs on how to proffer solutions to these environmental issues especially when these issues are at its worst. This study will increase the positive health status of the residents as they will come to understand that their daily activities in the markets and environs can either save their environment today or negatively affect it for their unborn generations yet to come.  All the faculties of environmental studies in the various Nigerian universities will also benefit from this research as it will serve as a reference material for present and future studies.

            For environmental planning purposes, this research will assist in the discovery of environmental problems and provide a basis for adequate environmental planning and redevelopment of the market, so as to ensure the provision of necessary facilities and the maintenance of proper conditions within and around these open-air markets. Furthermore, the need to undertake this research anchors firmly on the proximity of Essien Udim Local Government Area to Ikot Ekpene, Abak, Ikono and Etim Ekpo Local Government Area. These places are among the booming areas in Akwa Ibom State. This therefore places Essien Udim Local Government Area in a strategic position to be influenced by these cities. This makes interaction possible and provides the much-needed impetus for faster integration and development. The additional need for this research has to do with the political, economic and socio-cultural functions of Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

            Moreover, this research will serve as a reference material to the federal, state and local Government health and environment authorities. Federal and states’ ministries of agriculture, lands and housing all stands to gain from this research as it would serve as a reference source for any information they may seek to obtain regarding the research area and content. Also, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that are involved in the health affairs of local communities would also utilize this research as a reference material.

1.7     Scope of Study

          Geographically, the study is limited to the effects of open air markets on the environment in Essien Udim Local Government Area. Essien Udim is located in South South Nigeria in Akwa Ibom State with population of about 192,668 as at 2006 population census figure(Helloakwaibom.com, 2014). The scope of this research work circles around the environmental effects of open-air markets in Obong Annang Market in Ukana, Edet Market in Uruan Akpan and Affiong Etor Market in Ikpe Annang all in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. There are eight market days in the Local Government; Obo, Uruabom, Ekpa, Edit, Editaha, Atim, Ofiongetor and Edet Obo. Also limited to this study includes the size of the community affected by the effects of open air market. Contextually, the study is on the effects of open air market on the environment in Essien Udim Local Government Area. 

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