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17.12.2009 General News

Ensuring one person's solution does not become another's problem in the Korle Lagoon crisis

By myjoyonline
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The Korle Lagoon complex, the 'heart and lungs of Accra', is under severe threat. Extreme levels of pollution, waste and silting poses high environmental health and disaster risks to the local communities and Accra as a whole, as well as endangering our fragile natural ecology.

Gathering at the Mamprobi Polyclinic Assembly Hall in Accra this week, an interesting and diverse mix of individuals met to discuss ongoing research on the topic. Monday's workshop was hosted by an inter-disciplinary research team based at the University of Ghana and headed up by Prof. Jacob Songsore of the Geography and Resources Department.

Delegates attending the workshop included Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) members, community leaders and chiefs from Old Fadama and other areas surrounding the Lagoon, interest-group and NGO representatives, and members of the public.

Research thus far has highlighted that solutions to the Korle Lagoon crisis will not be simple. Prof. Songsore stresses the need for an ongoing process, involving consultation with all stakeholders, in order to effectively address the situation over the long term.

Many of the communities the Lagoon complex are inhabited by the poorest of Accra residents, ordinary people facing daily survival struggles. They face a lack of toilets and other facilities, overflowing municipal rubbish containers and inability to pay for proper services. Therefore, the current research involves the examination of livelihood strategies and local perspectives, in a wholly participatory manner. Community representatives attending the workshop expressed their ability and willingness to work with the AMA and other stakeholders to devise solutions that work, showing that a solution satisfying all parties is possible.

Thorough scientific testing is also crucial to the process. Dr Mary Chama of the Department of Chemistry highlighted new evidence showing industry and governmental institutions to be some of the major culprits of pollution in the Lagoon. Thus the problem is shown to be much wider than the nearby squatter settlements, where the blame is usually cast.

The workshop was drawn to a close with focus group discussions and presentations, which the research team will amalgamate with current findings. The final paper will be presented at a national conference on the topic in Legon next year.

Written by Simon Sizwe Mayson/Myjoyonline

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