By Stephen Odoi-Larbi
A Deputy Minister of Local Government & Rural Development, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, has said the conventional practice of collecting waste and disposing them at a dumping site was not the best for the African continent, and that the adoption of modern waste management practices should be the sole priority of players in the sanitation industry.
According to the Deputy Minister, despite the good prospects and successes achieved in the waste management sector through the help of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, especially in Ghana, there were multiple challenges of varying magnitude still confronting the nation.
Those challenges, he noted, include lack of appropriate dumping/sanitary landfill sites; poor attitude and perception of the populace towards waste and environmental sanitation; low interest in waste technology and application; inadequate waste management inputs; lack of skilled waste management personnel; absence of enforceable regulation on environmental sanitation; and unclear definition roles and responsibilities of the key actors and relevant stakeholders.
'A cursory look at waste management practices elsewhere, points to the fact that developing African nations that are faced with these waste management challenges need to move away from the conventional practice of 'collection-haulage-dumping,' to more modern systems of waste management that integrates waste reduction, separation, reuse, recycling and treatment,' noted Mr. Afriyie Ankrah.
The Deputy Minister made this observation when addressing players in the waste management sector at an international conference on Integrated Waste Management in Western Africa, held in Accra, and hosted by Zoomlion Ghana Limited on Monday.
The two-day conference, the first of its kind in the country, brought together a West African group of nineteen consortium partners from eleven countries, under the Integrated Waste Management in Western African (IWWA) project, as well as other sanitation experts from Egypt, South Africa, Germany, Spain and Sweden.
The IWWA initiative aims at strengthening the institutional framework for Solid Waste Management, empowering authorities and the relevant stakeholders, as well as for planning and management of solid waste in Western Africa.
According to Mr. Afriyie Ankrah, modern systems of separating waste, recycling and reusing them has proven to be more sustainable, economically prudent, and environmentally acceptable for other nations, and urged the participants to consider alternative ways in approaching waste management in their deliberations.
'We need to carefully evaluate current systems and approaches, and compare them with best practices elsewhere, in order to come up with mechanisms that will suit the African situation very well,' said the vociferous Deputy Minister his statement.
On his part, the deputy Minister of Health, Rojo Mettle-Nunoo, said sanitation coverage was low in most of sub-Saharan Africa. A situation, he noted, had impacted negatively in the health delivery of the people. He urged the participants to carefully consider liquid waste management in their deliberation, alongside that of waste management.
'We must manage liquid waste properly in relation to solid waste, if we want to achieve the Millennium Development Goals,' he said.
Commenting at the event, the Managing Director of Zoomlion Ghana, Florence Larbi, said her outfit was committed to the global Millennium Development Goal number seven of halving people without adequate sanitation by the year 2015.
'We have vowed to spearhead the campaign to totally rid Ghana of filth and make it the number one tourism destination in Africa.'
Mrs. Larbi took turn to outline some of her company's achievements in the sanitation industry in Ghana and other parts of the continent. Key amongst them is the construction of a multi-million cedi Accra Compost Plant to address final disposal issues, the creation of various squads (Eco Brigade, Mosquito Control and Afforestation teams, Sanitation Guards, Bola Taxi and Tricycle teams) to address environmental challenges, the near completion of the Whein Town Landfill facility in Liberia, and the efficient Public Cleansing Services in Casenga, Angola