Ghana, my dirty home

There are tons of problems facing Ghana. One very disturbing of these issues is the lack of proper sanitation in the country. Take a stroll down your vicinity and you’ll be welcomed with unimaginable dirty surroundings. Well, unless you live in the negligible percentage of the neat areas in the country. The nation has been swallowed by filth. A close friend once said “Ghana is just a huge litterbin”… so disheartening. Finding the cause of a problem is tantamount to solving a large percentage of it, they say. But come to think of it, we are fully aware of the causes, so why is the situation getting worse?

Inhabitants have good appearances, looking presentable, whilst our environments keep defaming us. It’s quite saddening that the nation’s capital is full of choking stench, slums and choked gutters. People go around littering anyhow, leaving rubbish in lagoons and gutters, defecating into water bodies, and so on. You may not believe this till you have a stroll around the cities yourself. Products bought from markets are served in polythenes and plastics mostly when we know there are no proper places to dispose them. Hence, they end up blocking water passages.

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According to Ghana Living Standards survey by Ghana Statistical Service, published in August 2014, more than half (52.4%) of households dispose of their rubbish by taking it to a public dump site whilst less than one-fifth (18.2%) have their rubbish collected. Almost three-quarters of households dispose of their liquid waste in open areas (73.7%), with an additional 22.4 percent disposing this in open spaces. This practice has the potential of creating conditions for an outbreak of communicable diseases in those communities. Households using WC, Pit Latrine and KVIP constitute 13.9 percent, 19.1 percent and 12.1 percent respectively. About 19 percent (18.8%) of households have no toilet facilities and therefore use the bush, field or beach. However, when examined independently, it is observed that more than 70 percent (72.6%) of households in the rural savannah area have no toilet facilities. Clearly, this has implications for the health and well-being of the people living in the area.

Dirty home 2So many people think there are no laws concerning sanitation at all, and I don’t blame them for such ignorance. The silence about offenders is golden. The national laws, specifically the Criminal Code (Act 29), 1960, and Revised Bye-laws of all the 110 MMDA’s have enough laws to support the Environmental Sanitation Service delivery and enforce the compliance of sanitation rules. However, the laws are not enforced. There are no proper plans to check people on their character. The thought that Ghana is a no man’s land and freewill nation encouraging littering around makes me want to shed a tear. It’s only right that the people change their attitudes. I thought the youth would be the revolution, but they fulfill the saying “tradition goes on”. You don’t litter around and wait for the government to clear it off. You don’t release bodily waste into waterbodies and expect a clean nation.

On June 4, 2015, the nation was hit with an unforgettable tragedy, thus a flood coupled with fire outbreak that took the lives of over 200 people. And it’s not like this is the first time floods occurred in the capital. This has been happening since the 90’s. Ask yourself what the causes of these disastrous floods are. Yes, I know, it’s a natural disaster, so does that mean we shouldn’t do anything about it? Should we allow it to continue killing our dear ones? Do you think we would be discussing floods in 2015 if measures were put in place? Okay, for those who are still not convinced, let me give you a clue: it’s the poor drainage system which leads to all that. It’s July and everyone has quitted talking about the solutions to the flood, back to the politics.

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The metropolitan assemblies keep repeating methods which don’t heal, but cure symptoms temporarily. The Environmental Sanitation policy needs rekindling. Once in a blue moon, the government pumps money into sanitation, knowing well that it’s not going to yield a great output, only for the problems to return worse than they were. Annual diseases like cholera are one indication that Ghana is not improving on the topic.

The big question is, how can we solve the problem of sanitation? Arno Rosemarin stated “sanitation is firstly about human behaviour; and to be successful, systems need to prioritise such things as affordability, comfort, dignity, privacy, odour control, ease of cleaning and user acceptance by men, women, elderly and children. To be sustainable, sanitation systems must build in all these aspects.” The statement summarizes all the actions that need to be put in place to ensure good sanitation.

Practically, construction of gutters needs to be reformed as part of fixing our drainage system. There should be consideration of closed gutters. The national policy has to promote the usage of paper disposables in our daily domestic trading. Public dump sites must be abandoned and channeled into biogas technology, recycling and burying the wastes. National communal labours are good but not enough to completely solve the issue.

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There should be provision of litterbins, public toilets, urinals and sewage systems nationwide. The judiciary has to sit down and come out with a profound system that will control abidance of laws regarding sanitation. Most importantly, the people of the nation, the inhabitants should change our attitudes to ensure a clean nation. Let’s not see the “Keep Ghana Clean” signboards as decorations. These are just a few ways to eradicate dirt. Together, we can change the face of Ghana.