When you walk down the streets in Makola Market, Mallam market, Kaneshie market, Agbogbloshie market and some of the major markets, and even our lorry stations in Ghana, you will be overwhelmed by all of the trash that litters the streets. Trash and waste are everywhere. Accra is the capital of Ghana and is a modern city, yet there is garbage all over.
After sixty years of independence, it is such a shameful to note that after all these years, we still have to fight the issue of sanitation.
The biggest problem facing Accra is the mindset. Ghanaians need to adjust their mindset to the changing times. It is no longer morally acceptable to throw trash on the ground and in their gutters. People must educate themselves on the dangers of inadequate sanitation and begin using garbage containers and also those in charge of collecting the garbage should also be checking when the containers are full so that they can dispose it off to prevent overflow of the garbage.
There is a lack of information to the public about how diseases spread because of germs and poor sanitation. Most people are not aware that Accra’s trash problem is a growing cause of many of its diseases. Malaria is the number one health problem all over Ghana, especially in Accra.
The National Malaria Control Program has revealed that three out of five children die of malaria every day in Ghana. Ghana is one of the top ten countries that contribute to the world malaria burden according to World Health Organization.
Malaria accounted for 53% of Accra’s illnesses last year. According to the National Malaria Control Programme, “During 2009, a person in Ghana died from malaria about every 3 hours. About 627,000 people died of malaria in Ghana as of the year 2014.most of them were children.
Cholera is another big problem in Ghana. As of November 2011, cholera has claimed 101 lives. There have been 10,002 cases reported in Ghana. The cholera outbreak has been directly linked to the lack of proper refuse dumping sites and improper disposal of waste.
People have not been educated and taught the habit of, and hence how to properly dispose of waste, especially, solid waste. With no options, most dump them indiscriminately within the city.
Three out of five Ghanaians practice open defecation, UNICEF says, adding that Ghana could take 500 years to eliminate the practice due to the slow pace at which strategies, laws and interventions are being implemented.
Open defecation is the practice of attending natures call in the bush, at the beach, in drains and dump sites. There is the need for attitudinal and behavioral changes among the target groups. There must be strict enforcement of building regulations to ensure that every household is forced to have toilet facilities.
About 77.5% of homes have toilets. Only 30% have flush toilets. The average person in Accra has to share toilets with 10 or more people in public latrines. About 60% of the population has regular waste collection. As of June 2014, all 3 refuse dump sites were closed down. Because of this open sewers and rains are full of trash.
Accra and other larger cities face chance of a cholera epidemic. Frequent occurrences of the outbreak happen because many homes, work places, and puAblic places do not have toilet facilities.
Opened gutters should be covered to prevent people from dumping solid waste into the gutters which choked the gutters and make a provision to enable people to enter into the gutters and clean should the gutters be choked.
The issue of sanitation is embarrassing as open defecation is widespread as 3 out of five Ghanaians attend natures call in the bush, dump sites, drains or even at the beach; drains are choked with solid waste causing floods and quiet fantastically, the over 2,200 tons of garbage produced in Accra alone is scattered on the streets and in drains; and most part of the wastewater in the country is discharged into rivers and other water sources without treatment, with the capital of Accra getting only 10% of its wastewater treated. A report jointly issued by the World Health Organization and the UN’s Children’s Fund in their Millennium Development Goals assessment of 2015 ranked Ghana as the 7th dirtiest country in the world.
The challenges to sanitation in Ghana is linked to our inability to create proper disposal points for solid waste, lack of enforcement of sanitation laws, population growth, poor financing of sanitation policies, rural-urban migration, poor sanitation infrastructure among others.
Addressing of the problem, obviously is not the sole responsibility of a single individual, the assemblies, organisations, or the departments, be it government or private, it must be the responsibility of all of us as citizens. Politicizing everything is killing us slowly. For instance when there is outbreaks of cholera, Tuberculosis, guinea worm among others, disasters like fire outbreaks, floods, earthquakes and the rest we condemn it and make noise for days and weeks. We then forget and then go back to the life style and attitude in which we were, which is causing the problems we create.