05.10.2004 General News

Waste management issues should be handled meticulously- experts

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Accra, Oct. 5, GNA - Discussants at a policy forum on waste management in Ghana have advocated that government and the society should handle waste management issues meticulously to address the problem in the country.

They have also advocated the intensification of education on the implications of waste generation on public health and on the economy, and the adoption of an appropriate technology to solve the problem. They also called for national advocacy on the need for the society to pay for waste management and the empowerment of implementing agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce the laws on environmental degradation.

The forum, which was organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) on Thursday in Accra, aimed to look at the challenge of waste management from the perspectives of local government, environment, health and societal attitudes.

It brought together waste management experts, metropolitan, municipal and district assembly representatives, politicians, technocrats, environmentalist and the media.

Mr. Anthony Mensah, Director, Waste Management Department of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly identified urbanization and industrialization as the two main factors underlying the "seemingly" intractable problem of dealing with waste generated in the country, even though both factors hold the key to accelerated economic growth and wealth creation.

He said that, the main technological and economical challenges that face local governments were the question of how to provide effective and reliable waste collection service in an affordable manner and the disposal of waste in an environmentally acceptable and sustainable way. Mr. Mensah said the internally generated revenues of most local governments, particularly Accra and Kumasi do not match investment required to rid the cities of waste.

"The root of the current situation is the failure to identify, mobilize and allocate sufficient financial, material and human resource to tackling waste management."

He said the issue was also compounded by the low income of most service beneficiaries and their unwillingness to pay for the disposal of the waste they generate.

To address the issue, he suggested that economic tariffs be charged for waste collection, and the adoption of low cost technology to manage waste in the country.

Mr. Philip Acquah, from the Environmental Protection Agency noted that where the environment and the health of humans are compromised for economic activities that generate income, and a vicious cycle of spending the same income to pay for the cost of degrading the environment and health related problems, then such development cannot be sustained.

He said to address the issue of waste management, there was the need to develop a specific policy and legislation on pollution fees and taxes based on "pollution prevention pays and polluter pays principles" adopted in the national environmental policy framework of 1991.

Mr. Mensah advocated capacity building and the use of research institutions in emerging policy impact analysis tools for waste management and the effective communication of the various policy elements for ownership by Ghanaians.

Dr. Nii Ayite Coleman, Metropolitan Health Officer of the AMA noted that the sanitation problem was a reflection of the level of development in the country.

He said the issue was getting poor, and manifesting itself in the high incidences of malaria, diarrhoeal diseases, cholera, typhoid, infectious hepatitis and other infections of the gut.

Dr Coleman said to address the issue, there must be the promotion of positive behaviour in the society, the development of a financing strategy for waste management, waste minimization, the recycling of waste and the decentralization of urban management.

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