Waste Management : A focus on Ghana

 


Ghana; a beautiful country, born, nurtured and well-resourced yet rot in filth .The socio-economic and cultural problems we have in the country is as a result of corruption, poor waste management and other factors. Among these waste management is one of the major causes for the country problems and unless we take steps quickly to reverse this, there isn’t going to be a great nation for the future generation. Most of these issues need to be tackled with care and combated with good technology. One issue that we can handle without any external help is waste management and waste reduction.

GOVERNANCE

A report by the United Nations titled “18th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, National Report for Ghana Waste Management”, perceived that most of Ghana’s efforts before millennium era were more of policy inclined despite Government of Ghana’s (GOG) pragmatic strides to that effect. The report indicated that, although government had partnered with international institutions such as the World Bank in some waste management projects and other related programs in the implementation of projects such as phases I, II and III of the Urban Development Projects in the 1990s, and the “Urban Environmental Sanitation Project (UESP) 1996- 2000” in Accra, Kumasi, Tamale, Takoradi and Tema which resulted in the construction of sanitary infrastructure such as night soil treatment plants and private toilets and then, DFID  in the “Accra Waste Management Project” designed to address wastewater and night soil treatment options in the city, these efforts were and are still inadequate. The types of waste generated in Ghana are solid, liquid, radioactive and hazardous waste among others

PRIVATE SECTOR INVOLVEMENT

Fortunately, we do have some very forceful private companies in the waste industry in the country such as Zoomlion Ghana Ltd, J. Stanley Owusu Co. Ltd, Y.N.O Enterprise Ltd, Zoompak Ltd, Zesta Environmental Solutions Ltd and Erksarp Ventures. The rest are Apedum Waste Services Ltd, Bioland Ltd, Keen 2 Clean Services Ltd, New Era Waste Concept, Golden Falcom Ltd, Early Sunrise Trading Co. Ltd, Asadu Royal Seed Waste Management, Premko Waste Ltd, Savanah Waste Management Services Ltd, Upper East Waste Ltd, Urban Waste Ltd, BA Waste Ltd, Ashanti Waste Ltd, Eastern Waste Ltd, Coastal Waste Ltd, Meridian Waste Management Services, Jam Waste Management Company, Habana Waste Management Services and Home Refuse Collection Enterprise and so on who are working hard to make the country clean but their best is not enough.

PRIVATE SECTOR INITIATIVE

In 2013 , Zoomlion sponsored  a study by Ranjith Annepu and Nickolas J. Themelis of the Earth Engineering Center, Columbia University. The study stated that 82% of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) funds were spent on solid waste management (which basically is man-made) most of which was on collection and transportation only. This is indicative of the fact that most of the assemblies spend hugely on solid waste management alone and for that matter man-made waste

 

THE HUMAN COMPONENT

To begin with, keeping our immediate surroundings clean should be the primary target. Most of our cities have dustbins placed at regular intervals though not many. But with the ones even placed around there is always more garbage surrounding the bin than inside it. Why are Ghanaian s so apathetic? Is it not the duty of every person to ensure he keeps his city clean?

If we do not work as individuals separately to tackle this issue, there is no way we can work as a team to reverse the major sanitation issues facing the country.

All waste that is release into our environment is mainly man-made. The government and all waste agencies can only make progress by engaging the people living in the community through face to face dialogue to come up with methods that can effectively help in keeping the surroundings clean.

These methods may differ from community to community or district to district since every community has its own culture.

WHY THE NEED TO KEEP OUR ENVIRONMENT CLEAN

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness” they always say, but while almost everyone has come across this proverb not many have understood its essence. Keeping our city clean is not really a choice, it is a duty; a moral responsibility. A clean place instantly looks appealing. Cleanliness raises the ordinary to be extraordinary. Do we think the beaches in Honolulu; a city in Hawaii, Dubai among others would be half as amazing if there were plastic bags, bottles or other waste material all around? Obviously no. It should be noted however that these foreign cities and beaches we admire do get dirty on daily basis but there are systems in place to ensure they are clean .Everyone wants to live in a beautiful place but only a few take the effort to make their own cities attractive while others whine and complain.

Winston S. Churchill noted that “healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.” Arlen Specter also stated that “there’s nothing more important than our good health – that’s our principal capital asset.”

When our environment is clean our health and that of our family is secure and there is a reduction on the financial stress mounted on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Half the time when we try accessing the local market especially the vegetable market we are likely to be exposed to garbage that is unattended to; garbage lying on the road or in uncovered bins, muddy environment and un-distilled gutters .These do not only make our environment smell bad but also serve as perfect breeding grounds for pathogens, germs and mosquitoes which only exacerbates the problem. So my question is; what have we been taking home from the local market, food or disease?

There are many people who dump their garbage on the roads; this is bad. But there is an equal number who dump their waste into gutters and fresh water bodies; this is much worse. It is a well-known fact that only one percent of the total water is readily available for consumption. Hence dumping waste into water bodies is nothing short of a criminal offense. By so doing, we are polluting our most significant natural resources.

In recent times, government has been forcefully trying to project the brand Ghana on international platforms such as commonwealth meetings, summits and conferences to the world in other to attract investors into the country. In addition to this there have been series of Ghanaian tourist site advertisement on CNN aimed at attracting tourists into the country.

To bring our city into the big picture we need to ensure that it stands out in some way. Keeping it clean would easily ensure that it would stand out in several ways. This will lure tourists into the city thereby increasing revenue.

Research shows that multinational companies are most likely to be set up in places which are picturesque. While nothing can be done about natural landscapes; the scenic beauty can always be increased by keeping the place devoid of garbage and by planting beautiful trees and flowering plants wherever possible. If we make an effort, we can definitely make our city look clean and beautiful.

By luring more companies; we will also be increasing the employment opportunities for all the people. More companies mean more jobs which mean more income. A small act of keeping our surroundings clean can quickly increase the income of many individuals in need.

The waste that is thrown on the roads and street corners does not magically disappear. The government has contracted  private waste cleaning services to clean the cities whiles individuals have also taken it upon themselves to collect garbage from houses at a fee. Most times these waste contractor just collect the waste and dump them in large land areas. The waste here is neither incinerated nor recycled. Statistics show that less than 10 percent of all recyclable materials are recycled. The remaining ninety percent is disposed along with the non-recyclable material. We need to keep the city clean and recycle as much as possible. This is not only good for us but it is also excellent for the environment.

Ghanaian s are very friendly people who seek company at all times. Living in a community imposes on us certain responsibilities as our culture demands. Keeping our cities clean is key among them. It is the duty of each and every person to ensure that his surroundings are hygienic. It is a social responsibility to ensure that the environment is preserved and living conditions are sustained throughout the years. It is only this, which can be passed on to the future generations. Giving back to the society- this is where it begins. To keep our surroundings clean is to give to the future generations what the past gave us. We need to continuously better it every now and then at all cost than to worsen it.

We are morally obligated to keep our cities clean. Mother Ghana has given us a place to live. It is our social responsibility to keep it clean and hygienic and pass it down the line.  It is high time that the attitude changes. Ghana is aping the West in many aspects but is failing to do so where it matters most.

RECOMMENDATION

  1. There has to be integration between Government sanitation agencies, waste contractors and traditional heads to ensure that designated cities are clean. Every king and chief within all the regions of the country must be tasked with this mandate to ensure that area under their jurisdiction is clean.
  2. Every month, a report will be collated from sub chiefs to the king within the region who then meets with government sanitation agencies to evaluate progress. Quarterly training and seminars must be organized for chiefs and sub chiefs within the regions. Award schemes must also be instituted to encourage towns that have the cleanest marketplaces and environment
  3. Though there are dustbins, they are not enough. More dustbins should be placed at vantage point within every city and locality .Waste contractors must be tasked to ensure that these bins are emptied on a daily basis whether they are full or not. The government agencies must institute monitoring measures to ensure that contractors perform.
  4. Waste contractors like Zoom lion and Asiedu must be tasked to work majorly at garbage dumpsites within the cities at night especially in the marketplaces. This avoids distraction from market women.
  5. The youth must be contracted to recycle waste and it must be privatized whiles incentives is provided to encourage to them. Government should deregulate organic fertilizer factories with non-recyclable products at a very low cost
  6. Related legislation for the control of waste disposal and environmental sanitation were already enacted as early as the 1990’s even though this didn’t mirror positively in action. For instance, the Local Government Act, 1990 (Act 462), the Environmental Assessment Regulations, 1999 (LI 1652), the Pesticides Control and Management Act, 1996 (Act 528) the Criminal Code, 1960 (Act 29), Water Resources Commission Act, 1996 (Act 522), National Building Regulations, 1996 (LI 1630) and some MMDAs bye-laws among others were already in place but the major issue was and suffice to say is still that, these laws and policies do not get enforced by the law enforcement agencies like elsewhere . In the West, people are even fined for spitting on the road or even for dropping chocolate wrappers on pavements by mistake. They are always conscious and also pick up waste that is lying on the road without being told to do so. Ghana can also initiate such policies
  7. The sanitation agency will need to integrate Ministry of Education, Health, Tourism and Gender, Children and Social Protection to develop a holistic and systematic educational programs and strategies uniquely customized to fit each region within the country. These educational programs and strategies must run for ten years and be  subject to review on yearly basis

Like Benjamin Disraeli said – Cleanliness and order are not matters of instinct; they are matters of education, and like most great things we must cultivate a taste for them. Nana Awere Damoah also noted that “Ghana will not be built in a day. But it should be built every day and the body that houses the eyes reading this owns the hands that will ensure this.”

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