Open Letter To The President: Making Accra The Cleanest City In Africa
Dear Mr. President,
I write to speak on the sanitation issues confronting the capital city, measures put in place, successes choked and suggestions for future improvements as more numbers keep adding up to the city every day with scarce resources to meet the increasing needs of our people.
Mr. President, it was on April 24, 2017, when you made a pledge to the good people of Accra that by the time you end your four-year term Accra would become the cleanest city in Africa and therefore needs the cooperation of all and sundry in making this dream a reality. ‘‘The commitment we are making and which I want you all to make with me is that by the time we end our four-year term, Accra is going to be the cleanest city in Africa.’’
Waste management is a growing global concern as population keeps increasing exponentially which is also be-devilled with its climatic impacts of global warming (due to release of methane & other greenhouse gases). Traditionally, municipal wastes in urban centres have been managed using landfill sites, to open dumping and burning in low to middle-income countries. However, with increase in consumption coupled with the scarce natural resources (land) and the negative environmental externalities, there is the urgent need to adopt and implement more sustainable mechanisms of waste management.
Embracing & Acknowledging Science as a Critical Decision-Making Tool in the Governance Process
Mr. President, embracing Science as a way of life in our governance process will serve us all well as Science plays a critical role in the decision-making process of developed & developing nations. Heidegger opined that environmental policy & urban planning are one of the vital reasons influencing the sustainability of the environment (Heidegger, 2001).
Separation of municipal wastes is key for two (2) main reasons: Climate change & Energy demand. High consumption of finite resources led Germans to re-consider how their wastes generated is managed. In response to EU’s Waste Framework Directive, the Waste Management Act, 2012 states that waste producers & waste management authorities shall separate organic wastes from the inorganic wastes as at January 01, 2015. Municipal wastes are deposited in Kerbside Collection Systems (located on principal streets): Householders are encouraged to separate organics from the recyclable wastes for regular collection. Municipal wastes are also deposited in Large Recycling Containers: In order to enable resource efficiency from the wastes generated.
Mr. President, Austria is the number one country touted to be very efficient in managing solid waste across Europe & the world at large due to her long history of progressive policies, unique & decentralised approaches to organic waste management. Since 1990s, Austria has employed home composting as a system that manages organic waste efficiently, mandates local authorities to be responsible for waste collection, separation and composting in the rural, urban & peri-urban areas. Because of these policies adopted & implemented by Austria, Austrians have long surpassed the primitive landfill site requirements set by the EU Landfill Directive. Therefore, less than 3% of the municipal waste is what goes to landfill sites.
Mr. President, Ghana can also take a cue from Germany & Austria in managing municipal wastes especially in the capital. This is because the capital is the most populated with its accompanying wastes generated which sometimes end up in water bodies, landfills, & drains. As an environmental expert, I would suggest the following:
- The Establishment of Recycling & Composting Plants in Each Municipality in the Capital: Since municipal waste keeps rising exponentially due to population growth & urbanisation setting up Recycling & Composting Plants in each municipality will lessen the already stretched pressure on the few Sanitation Companies. Again, SD Goal 12 (Sustainable Development Goal 12) will be catered for since it talks about ‘‘Sustainable Cities & Communities.’’ Again, decent jobs will be created in the supply chain and this also caters for SD Goal 8 (Decent work & Economic Growth)- which member states are working towards achieving for the 2030 agenda (SDGs).
- Adopting & Implementing the Environmental Policy Instruments to generate wealth, prosperity & cleanliness: This, I elaborated on in my previous article titled ‘‘Transforming Ghana’s Plastic Waste for Economic Gains through Environmental Policy Implementation.’’ These policies when adopted and implemented would make all stakeholders environmentally responsible, otherwise they only focus their attention on profit margins without heeding to acceptable global standards (as practised in developed countries). https://thebftonline.com/23/10/2020/transforming-ghanas-plastic-waste-for-economic-gains-through-environmental-policy-implementation/
- Also, by adopting Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDs): At least not building on water ways and employing modern drainage systems in our individual vicinities as well as commercial areas.
- Attitudinal change by citizens: This comes by self-discipline, awareness through ‘‘Public Environmental Education’’ by our local authorities and even resource personnels. Again, a consumer taking personal responsibility of how sustainably his waste is managed after using a product is what I personally refer to as ‘‘Consumer Responsibility.’’ More information on this could also be found at: https://thebftonline.com/23/10/2020/transforming-ghanas-plastic-waste-for-economic-gains-through-environmental-policy-implementation/
Environmental Impacts of Recycling & Composting
Philippines give a second life to their plastic waste which later becomes useful (after recycling) to construct roads, and even manufacture cements. Mr. President, in Ghana also, recycled plastics play a critical role in laying tiles, abandoned sachet rubbers are sewn together to craft purses and bags, making new bottles & containers, manufacturing noise-reducing accessory parts of Chevrolet Equinox engine.
Composting on the other hand is more desirable for agricultural purposes than the synthetic (chemical) fertilizer. While the synthetic fertilizer causes leaching of nutrients and/or it is sometimes leached into surrounding water bodies causing eutrophication- which adversely affects aquatic lives, organic compost binds the soil particles together which prevents leaching and run-offs. Organic compost also provides a conducive environment for microbes to thrive. But for organic composting, most of the organic waste materials would have been found on landfill sites emanating greenhouse gases such as Methane, Carbon (iv) Oxide, Sulphur (iv) Oxide and others which contribute immensely to the Climatic conditions. Air pollution from landfill sites would also be minimised and more lands would be available for other economically viable projects such as infrastructure & agricultural purposes.
Mr. President, in summary practising these few guidelines would give the capital more desirable & appealing edifice which would intend increase her touristic potential as well as create jobs in the supply chain.
Richard K. Asare
- Heidegger, M. (2001). ‘‘The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics.’’ Indiana: Indiana University Press.
- Kwawukume, V. (2017). ‘‘I’ll make Accra the Cleanest Capital in Africa.’’ Retrieved on November 16, 2020. Accessed from: graphic.com.gh
- Marin, A. (2018). ‘‘Recycling of Municipal Waste.’’ Accessed from: eea.europa.eu
- Schüch, A. Morscheck, G., Lemke, A., Nelles, M. (2015). ‘‘Bio-Waste Recycling in Germany-Further Challenges.’’ Procedia Environmental Sciences. 35, 308-318
- Sustainable Financing & Policy Models for Municipal Composting. Accessed from: documents1.worldbank.org. Retrieved on November 02, 2020
Richard K. Asare, Environmental Consultant
MSc University of Siena, Italy. BSc University of Cape Coast, Ghana
+233(0) 201069601/[email protected]
Green Africa Consult, Accra
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