Dredging our minds and desilting our culture will solve flooding dilemma

Tafo Flooding 2.png A picture of an area in Accra flooded

Fri, 24 May 2019 Source: Nicholas Solomon

“Government tackles flood with GHC197m, Government donate relief items to flood victims, NADMO records 53,000 rendered homeless due to flood”. These and other headlines flood our media space every year during rain floods yet no radical measures to solve our flooding menace!

The citizens and successive governments have destroyed the lives of many Ghanaians. YES!!! Government’s thirst to score political points have cut short the lives of many Ghanaians by not taking the needed actions. Citizens discard refuse into drains, let lose rubbish from moving vehicles, abandon construction waste to gradually find its way into drains, build houses in water ways yet we blame it all on government. We are the problem! Just like America’s 9/11, June 3rd thought us nothing. How can we do this to ourselves? Don’t we learn? I drive and walk by so many places in the nation’s capital and see filth, garbage created by people living in the nation’s capital, even in the central business district. It’s like saying Midtown Manhattan is full of garbage. That is just an impossibility! When are we going to be citizens and not spectators? When will we stop causing this nation pain? When will the rich and powerful in society stop bulldozing their way through, breaking the law and bribing the system? When will all Ghanaians be held to the same standards?

It is alright to be breathing over the shoulders of Government, after all it is a direct responsibility of the citizens of a country, and we should not be sloppy in our attitudes or our resolve towards the Government. We voted governments into power and it is our common obligation to make sure that they stay on the straight and narrow. The Government is the Public's primary servant. Whiles we crucify the government, we lose sight of the fact that, the government is a reflection of the people. How do we expect a government from the people and by the people to be different from the people? The solution to the perennial flooding in Ghana is not to desilt and dredge the drains every pre-scheduled time, the resolution is to dredge our minds of old thinking and desilt our culture from the pathetic way of living, reasoning managing waste and segregated delivery of justice. We need to educate ourselves on the essence of good sanitation and the value we lose as a nation by treating waste the way we do and living the way we live as a people.

I believe that people don't need a government, a body or entity that will herd them like sheep or cattle into specific areas where they think it is best for livestock, and of course, from which they as the government would stand to gain the most out of. Unfortunately, there is no room in today's society for such a view, since people are not responsible enough to govern ourselves hence the inability to manage the waste we generate.

The government will only create opportunities for its financiers to make money and fund the next political campaign. Does the new Ghana education service’s curriculum designed for our schools influence a change of mind? Will it teach our students how critical proper sanitation is to a nation’s development? Will it help in shaping the national psyche to that of a more environmentally sustainable way of living?

Leadership is a long lost word in our society. Attitudinal leadership not positional leadership, the ability for one to take full responsibility of one’s self and immediate surrounding and account to one’s self in the same regard. We have lost all our patriotic efforts and limited it to defending celebrities. Where are the communal labors we use to have? Where are the town councils? We haven’t taken responsibility of our own lives. In Canada, citizens or homeowners are obligated by the law to clear snow from their doorway through the walking path to the street. Leaving snow at these places is a risk and potential cause for death. The government will penalize you for disobeying the law if found culpable.

We like to think of the big solutions yet ignore the very applicable and sustainable way of solving our issues. Waste management has been a major cause of flooding in this country and can be solved by teaching and encouraging people to micro manage their waste at the generation points. Have we even thought of reducing waste generation at home? The average waste generated in Ghana is 0.52kg/person/day, 20% of this is constituted by plastic waste whereas 60% is made up of organic waste. There is so much concern about plastic waste being the cause of drain blockages, we have forgotten how organic waste transmutes into silt thereby reducing the volumes of water the drains were designed to collect. Can the government restore the regime of town councils? Although old, it was a very effective way of dealing with waste and people complied with the law. If government valued lives as a national asset, it will enforce proper hygiene just like it enforces wearing of seatbelts.

Agencies at the local governance level must deploy some sort of community hygiene task force to ensure that people manage waste properly especially how they dispose of waste. Community leaders and influencers must reinstitute community labor. It is a sure way of getting everyone involved in cleaning our drains and keeping all waterways free of unwanted materials.

In the 21st century, there’s so much we can do with waste. From energy to fertilizer, production of building materials and other key socio-economic benefits. As a people, we must ensure that government adopts or support companies that are generating all forms of energy from waste and recycling waste to solve major problems in this country. These companies need government policies that will ease their operations. It is a sustainable strategy for all public facilities to generate their own energy through recycling of the waste they generate. Policies should be formulated to empower assemblies to request for and certify waste management plans before a certificate of habitation is given to new home owners and builders i.e. waste bins must be inspected by assemblies before people are allowed to live in their homes.

There should be an intentional and compulsory sensitization in schools and other institutions on sustainable waste management. People should be excited to practice proper waste management. We must bring to the fore the benefits and values of protecting our environment. It must be a national dialogue in all groups of people.

To you reading, start dredging your mind and desilting your community of bad practices and the irresponsible behavior of our immediate relations. Let’s work together to build a nation that is environmentally sustainable, a built environment that is healthy, safe and promotes longevity of its people.

Columnist: Nicholas Solomon