15 September 2010

Ghana: Waste Disposal - A Dilemma for the Economy And Health of Ghana

The rapid population growth of the major cities in Ghana, especially, the capital Accra, has made way for the frequent piling up of waste on the environment.

Waste disposal has become one of the major problems facing the Ghanaian society today.

In as much as the people and the government want to make the environment safe from any dirt-transmitted diseases, both groups do not put in much effort in making the environment a healthy place to live in.

It is very unfortunate that Accra, which is the capital of the nation, and also the business centre, has great part of it overwhelmed by waste. Waste disposal in the county has been tackled by both government and private agencies, but both have not been able to eradicate completely the problem of bad waste disposal, due to frequent migration of people into the capital, and also the increasing establishment of various businesses.

According to research, the population of Accra is approximately 1.9 million, and has been growing at an annual rate of 4% since 1984.

Bad waste disposal, including solid waste, has made it very impossible for the country to have a stinking and disease-free environment. Up till date, people feel no remorse at indiscriminately disposing of their rubbish, or defecating in the open. No wonder open defecation is prevalent in all the regions of the country.

One ought not to be surprised, as these attitudes of the people are as a result of the limited rubbish dumps, disposal trucks and limited toilet facilities.

According to research, in Accra, 77.5% of houses have toilets, but only 30% have flush toilets, and less than 20% have functioning indoor plumbing. Furthermore, economic disparity within Accra has resulted in 75% of the lowest per capita income earners having to share toilet facilities with 10 or more people in public latrines.

Ghana and waste

According to a UN report, Accra and other African cities generate 80% organic waste, 10% of plastic, glass, and metals, and less than 12% of paper per day. The disposal of waste, especially, organic ones, is a major problem for many households, compelling more than 50% of the people in Ghana to find their own way of disposing of waster in an unhealthy way.

At least, 5 out of 10 households in the country dispose of their waste right beside their houses, instead of finding the nearest waste dumping site. In some cases, the waste containers provided by the various waste management companies are not enough for the communities, due to the large populations.

Waste management companies refuse to monitor their waste containers, and leave them there to be overfilled till people begin to dump their waste around them.

Many households without access to waste management services are now dumping their waste on the streets, hoping that Zoomlion tricycle riders will locate it and collect on their behalf. Waste management is a very serious problem, which the country is finding very difficult to solve, despite the emergence of the various private waste management companies.

A trip through the various communities like Lapaz, Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Kaneshie and Achimota makes it evident that indeed, Ghana is in a den of waste.

The intensity of waste created in a day has made the work of Zoomlion Waste Company Ghana Limited very invisible, as the more they take away the rubbish, the more people accumulate them.

According Zoomlion Ghana Limited, its effort to provide door to door services in all 11 sub metros in Accra, had now been reduced to three sub metros, comprising Ayawaso West, Ayawaso Central and Ablekuma Central.

As if that is not enough, the country has as well as become a dumping site for e-waste, and Agbogbloshie, a suburb of Accra, is one of the major dumping sites for e-waste. In the opinion of the United Nations Environmental Programme, 20-50 million tonnes of electronics are discarded each year, with 70% of these products being shipped to the poor countries, including Ghana.

One might wonder how these junk find their way into developing countries like Ghana, despite the Basel Ban Amendment, under the Basel Convention, which forbids the export of e-waste from developed to developing countries.

'Research shows that about 90% of the computers are junk, they just do not work, they are obsolete, not functional, and they contain an array of toxic materials, including lead, mercury, and brominates flames retarded, and they are destined for disposal in their countries of origin,'

Ghana and solid waste

In as much as organic waste; plastic, glass, and metals waste are very difficult to be managed so is solid waste, the refusal of landlord to provide toilet facilities in their various household is the genesis of bad solid waste disposal in the country. People who live beside bushes or nears rubbish dump use these places as their toilet facilities. Ashaiman is of the areas where residents indiscriminately dispose solid waste openly and many of the people also prefer open defecation. Many of the people too depend on one of the oldest Kumasi Ventilated Improved Pit (KVIP) which had not been innovated for many years with weak foundation which has the probability to collapse if users are not careful.

Effects of poor waste management

When rubbish is heaped for long, it becomes the breeding ground for rats, flies and mosquitoes. Mosquitoes bring about the spread of malaria, which has been reported to be killing millions of people on the African continent.

Malaria is one of the reasons for the high mortality rate among pregnant women, as well as children. Rubbis disposed of indiscriminately is often carried away by the rain into rivers and water bodies, which are also a source of water for domestic and industrial purposes. Continued

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