Sunday, April 07, 2013

Ghana’s Faecal Waste Management Threatens Health & Safety – Report

A Cesspit tank emptying faecal waste in Ghana
Source: Francis Tandoh & Justice Lee Adoboe

The management of Ghana’s faecal waste is a threat to public health and safety, a field report launched recently in Accra has indicated.

The study, commissioned by the Coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), and carried out by the Ghana Water and Sanitation Journalists Network (GWJN), exposed the irresponsible manner in which human waste was disposed off in the country.

The 16-minute documentary showed the status of faecal disposal sites in Accra and how raw faeces were managed before disposal.

Scenes from Korle-Gorno beach located in the capital, Burma Camp, and the country’s premiere second cycle institution, Achimota School, all in the capital, portrayed graphically the need for urgent action to arrest the situation.

At Korle-Gorno beach, hundreds of cesspit emptiers were seen making several rounds to discharge the content into the Atlantic Ocean, which serves as a major source of fish in Ghana.

Meanwhile, food vendors just close to the Korle-Gorno beach were observed doing brisk business.

While most residents believed the dumping site at the beach should be closed down due to the health hazards it posed, Ayorkor Hammond, a 30-year-old food vendor, kicked against the suggestion, claiming it would jeopardize her livelihood.

At Achimota School, formerly Prince of Wales College and School established by Governor Sir Frederick Gordon Guggisburg in 1924, the liquid waste treatment plant was broken down so the human waste flowed back into the school, causing an offensive odor.

The headmistress of the school, Beatrice Adom, told the team of reporters  the sewerage system had been overflowing, as some land developers had built on some of the sewerage pipes causing them to choke.

“This makes fecal toilet flow back into the school, making the situation unbearable for the school,” she indicated.

Anderson Blay, Director of Waste Management at the Accra Metropolitan Authority (AMA), said the situation would be dealt with once the digester being constructed near the beach was completed.

“Now, instead of pouring untreated waste into the sea, the digester will treat it, dry it into manure while the treated liquid flows into the lagoon,” he assured.

Farouk Braimah, acting Chairman of the CONIWAS, noted that poor sanitation had been a major problem in the country as it had impacted negatively on productivity.

He called for attitudinal change among Ghanaians to help resolve the sanitation problem in the country.

Deputy Coordinator for the GWJN, Edmund Smith-Asante, said the challenges posed by sanitation in the national capital and other parts of the country were enormous, hence the decision to partner CONIWAS to produce the report to compel those in authority to address them.

Even though Ghana has met the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for water, the same cannot be said of sanitation and hygiene, as 19 percent or five million of the population defecate openly.

According to the 2011 report by Resource Centre Network (RCN) Ghana, the country ranks second from bottom on the open defecation ladder in West and Central Africa.

It also states that about 70 percent of out-patient attendance in Ghana is due to poor sanitation (Ministry of Health, 2009).

Experts believe that, with the annual growth of one percent, it will take Ghana 40 years to reach the MDG sanitation target of 54 percent by 2015.

The Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) estimates that Ghana loses about 240 million U.S. dollars annually in terms of health lost in labor and productivity caused by poor or lack of sanitation and hygiene services.

1 comment:

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