In August 2015, the Government of Ghana added the Sanitation Module to the National Service Scheme. It was termed National Waste Bin Distribution Programme (NAWABIN). National Service Personnel covered the whole country collecting data for the distribution of waste bins in 2015/16 after it was tested in the Greater Accra region during 2014/15.
After the incumbent government National Democratic Congress (NDC) lost the 2016 Presidential Election to the current government New Patriotic Party (NPP), waste has been one of the areas President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo has been hammering on since his inauguration in 2017. He has vowed to make Ghana the cleanest country in the sub-region.
An article published by Graphic Online on Thursday, 10th January 2019 titled Zoomlion to commence distribution of 1m waste bin on Monday pointed out that “Zoomlion Ghana Limited will commence one of its flagship programmes for the year, One Household One Bin project on Monday, January 14, 2019.” The main aim of this program is to encourage proper storage and collection of solid waste in the country.
Turn your television set to Joy News and you would see an excerpt of waste management crisis which is said to drain USD 290 million from Ghana annually. It has been a year since the commencement of the One Household One Bin project and issues of sanitation still linger on in our various communities.
The distribution of waste bins to households would go a long way to help with the storage of waste but it would do little with the collection and proper disposal of waste in the country.
Government only focused on Solid Waste (Human Waste is also waste)
As soon as waste is mentioned, polythene bags, sachet water, can products and crop waste often times are what comes to mind. We forget about human waste which does not only come about through defecation and discharge of urine but through bathing, washing of clothes and utensils.
Let me pass you through a personal test. When you open up a tap to take a shower, when you open up a tap to clean your utensils, when you pour away the dirty water from the washing of your clothes down the drain, where do the wastes go? You can follow the trail of the waste and you would not be able to follow the same trail for 200 metres. Why? Waste water joins streams and with time we all hope it joins rivers which then climaxes its flow into the mighty ocean.
This horrifying openness of the flow of waste comes about because the planning of our communities is nothing to write home about. Building of community’s 80 percent of the time is left to self-developers who are neither community planners nor engineers to be able to facilitate a safe and healthy environment. Few individuals have lands to sell but the primary variables of the buying and selling of lands is through chiefs. Unfortunately, our chiefs do not make provision for gutters and drainage systems and leave everything with regards to community development to self-developers who forgo such as a primary component in the building of houses.
If self-developers leave out where waste water would go, it is of no news. There are numerous cases where self-developers wholeheartedly put up a building and omit a toilet facility as a result of a lack of funds. This is another factor which leads to human waste being distributed openly in the community and through solid waste in the form of polythene bags.
Stagnant water from water waste leads to malaria; open defecations in communities swim their way into streams and rivers. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “673 million people still defecate in the open, for example in street gutters, behind bushes or into open bodies of water.” Poor sanitation leads to diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, hepatitis A, dysentery which increases medical costs of inhabitants, reduces the well-being of people as well as social and economic development. Seems you know the kind of people the World Health Organization is addressing, right.
Government should look at all the areas involved in waste and waste management
National Service Personnel who embarked on the nationwide collection of data encountered a number of problems. The most consistent questions were the amount of money to be paid monthly and who or what company would come for the waste bins. One personnel recalled a stay-at-home mother asking how difficult it was for them to get to her residence by foot, how would the waste management truck come to their muddy road vicinities for the waste bins? This raises questions as to how accessible our housing systems are in order to see to the effectiveness and efficiency of the project.
Financial education has not been rooted into the skulls of Ghanaians. Still on the responses from National Service Personnel consulted that were part of the sanitation module, there are individuals who do not even patronize the services of the tricycle turned into a waste management vehicle used for the collection and disposal of waste which is called “Aboboyaa” in the local language. They prefer to burn waste thereby saving cost. Burning pollutes the environment and has its effects. Have there been extensive educations with regards to the need for people to pay GHC 20 to GHC 40 monthly for the collection of waste bins when there are children who go to school and do not even get GHC 1 as pocket money daily?
There are compound houses and modern apartments where individual households contribute and purchase a single waste bin. Even with that, the bins can overflow because the waste management company does not come for the waste on time. More importantly, the bin is only one so does not pose much of a problem. There are banks being consolidated into a single financial services unit but huge waste bins are being reduced into individual bins. Instead of one bin overflowing, a time would come where there would be 10 households and 10 waste bins in front of 10 separate rooms. This would contribute a whole new level of disease and ailments.
Waste Management Companies cannot be solely blamed
Most often times, the waste management companies cannot be blamed because it is not easy for them to go to places where the roads are not great and can get their trucks stuck. More than half of our communities and homes are not easily accessible.
Government should prioritize the building of community roads. So far, the only roads that are easily accessible to all kinds of vehicles are the main roads. The government should liaison with the chiefs and authorities of communities to take a percentage of the amounts of money received through land sales and initiate new policy that includes local chiefs in the building of community roads and on a broader scale community and urban development. These roads would make the communities accessible and help with the proper collection and disposal of waste.
The government should not only look at the distribution because there are many individuals and households who are doing everything in their capacity to store waste but it is the proper collection and disposal that holds our breath.
The government should prioritize construction and improvement of inner-community roads and the amounts of money needed to curb waste management crisis would be reduced. Money apportioned for waste management can then be invested into other lucrative opportunities which would result in an enabling environment for the citizens of the country.
(Raphael Zuhnden is a self-help motivational author, personal finance and global wealth researcher who has self-published a children’s book)
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