It has now dawned on Ghanaians that our inability to maintain the environment through proper waste management is one of the threats to the country's economic growth.
Ironically, proper waste management could create several jobs, besides combating preventable diseases like cholera, typhoid and malaria.
One waste management expert recently disclosed that waste management in Ghana currently contributes one percent of Gross Domestic Product, and at optimum efficiency, its contribution could be higher. Currently, waste management is mainly in the area of scrap, paper, and plastics, which employ a sizeable number of Ghanaians, mostly the youth.
It follows that since waste generation is directly proportional to affluent lifestyles Ghana will be generating more waste as it moves towards middle-income status.
Reaching a middle income status by 2020 as envisioned by the NDC government will bring pressure to bear on waste management; hence the need for all hands to be on deck. Ghana's poor showing on the league of cleanliness in Africa should be a source of concern to all Ghanaians.
This calls for a kind of social accountability mechanism to reward and punish individuals and institutions which destroy the environment. Civil Society Organisations in some countries have proved very effective in solving the sanitation riddle. Thankfully in Ghana, the National Coalition of NGO in Waste Management (NACONWAM) recently offered to play a leading role in the campaign against environmental degradation.
At the first National Environmental Sanitation Forum held in Accra on Tuesday, March 10, NACONWAM and allied groups advocated for the establishment of a Ghana Environmental Sanitation Authority (GESA) to co-ordinate and monitor the activities of waste management institutions across the country.
The proposed establishment of the Sanitation Authority is a laudable idea which should be considered by the government. While in the interim this newspaper supports the idea of the authority we urge stakeholders, especially the government to help define an integrated approach to waste management. Doing this requires investing in recycling facilities, if we are to derive maximum value from our waste.
The surest way is for government through Ghana's development partners to support private sector players. The feat achieved by Zoom Lion in waste collection and recycling is ample testimony that given the necessary support, NGOs can lead Ghana out of the filth quagmire.
Ghana's fight against environmental degradation will come to nothing unless we take a firm and collective stance against the culture of wrongdoing. We need to strengthen existing bodies, in addition to establishing the proposed sanitation authority to save our dear country from disgrace. Ghana's current deplorable insanitary condition does not match her status as a beacon of African independence.
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