Poor sanitation discoloring Ghana's flag

Sun, 16 Aug 2020 Source: Bright Philip Donkor

The world over, sanitation cannot be underestimated as an ingredient

that's essential to social and economic development. Ghana is the world's fastest-growing economy, with a government set on attracting investment and tourism.

That notwithstanding, if there is any challenge that has reared its

ugly head and exposed this country as if those who are in charge are

incapable of solving serious problems, it is the poor sanitation

gazing at us and staining the flag of Ghana.

Over the years we have failed as a country to decisively and

collectively stem the increasing poor sanitation which began a few

decades ago after the higher country's income, rate of urbanization

and the advent of sachet water and other plastic substances.

A morning, afternoon or evening walk or drive through the streets of

the major cities, towns and communities will show a staggering state

of filth that has engulfed the country. The insistent, earnest and

persistent question is what will it take us to nip this disgraceful

scene in the bud as a nation? What collective efforts etched in

commitment and leadership is required of us to address poor sanitation

bedevilling us? Apparently, providing remedy to this menace cannot rest on the shoulders of one person, department, organization or even an

assembly. The onus lies on us the citizenry, after all, we create this


There's no doubt that we have taken so many things for granted and easily refused to think outside the box. With an increasing exhibition of such behaviour, the difficulty in tackling the challenge.

Often people occupy positions of authority just for the glorification

of it and not to render any transforming benefits to life and society.

Some even go far-reaching lengths to lobby and fight for positions

that they know they don't merit and cannot execute the job at hand.

Some are considered fit for positions out of nepotism and favouritism;

concepts which have given room for square pegs in round holes.

Can we get rid of the horrific unsanitary conditions around us and prevent a stain on our flag? Sadness fills the coffers of my heart anytime I take a look at how we continue to tackle sanitation and its associated problems. We seem not to be poised to salvage the situation.

It looks like we are going around in a circle without any progress.

For instance, when we encounter catastrophes and issues like floods,

fire and motor accidents, tribalism and xenophobia, corruption and

misappropriation, and now Covid-19 outbreak we strike, wail and condemn it. We talk of it for a while, but soon after we return to the status quo, doing the things we used to do.

We create waste and dispose of them as if someone else will have to deal with that. There's little or no sense of civic responsibility. We

litter our surroundings, cut down trees, burn rubbish and anything

around us haphazardly.

We defecate on our beaches, pollute and choke gutters, pour human

excreta into our sea as if there are no legislations. We even pollute

our scarce water sources as if to suggest we have someone to create a

new one for us after we've destroyed them. We still build open gutters that are hardly maintained and turn them into dumping sites. Are we waiting for somebody to put us right?

Undoubtedly, we have a lot of infrastructure challenges and now

Covid-19 toppling our predicament but trust you me, a clean

the environment and good sanitation can make a huge difference. Hence, the

need to embrace concern and willingness to overcome it. I, for one,

believe that all our efforts geared towards Covid-19 eradication,

socio-economic and political advancement are zilch if we're unable to

find solutions to a primary challenge such as poor sanitation.

Not until we've discovered the key to open the problematic door of

poor sanitation, we'll continue to battle ill health, waste financial

resources and even taint the colours of the national flag.

What even saddens and worsens it is that most of our people in office

have the power to cause metamorphosis and make things happen to trot the

globe every day. They see, admire and appreciate the discipline,

beauty and wonderfulness of other nations and yet only return to have

a 'nap or sleep' in Ghana homeland.

Turn your attention to our so-called markets and lorry stations. Has

the global pandemic caused a change in its current state? The next

time you're there, take a cursory look at everything around and you'll

be disappointed at what you see. Nothing seems to work and nothing

seems decent, organized and respectable. The heaps of filth sitting on

the market corners accompanied by heat need to be experienced than

imagined. Could it be the problem of no money?

Surprisingly, we turned to our Korle lagoon in the centre of the city

and what does one witness? This is a natural resource that could have

served as spectacular scenery for visitors to the capital city but has

been reduced to a horrible polluted scene; the sight of which makes

you feel like throwing up. Our creation has been entangled with the

shackles of retrogression, yet we tout ourselves with all the

accolades and encomium like 'Ghana the pride of Africa', 'Ghana the

beacon of hope' among others.

To speak from the hip, we're undeserved not just for nothing but the

singular reason and the buttressing fact that similar water bodies

exist in other countries serving meaningful purposes. They're huge

tourist attraction sites ranking in huge foreign exchanges and

providing beauty for the cities. But we have turned ours into a refuse


The trash has become an eyesore and a political flashpoint. I wonder

if our officials in power rolled down the windows of their V8, Land

Cruisers among other luxurious vehicles while driving around town to

soak in the aromatic stench from the filthy and stinky city. What

happens when or what results show when the Ministry of Sanitation &

Water Resources holds review workshops to find ways of improving its

performance, including that of agencies like Zoomlion Ghana Limited,

Ghana Water Company, Water Resources Commission, Community Water and

Sanitation Agency etc to it?

A lack of sanitation holds back economic growth. According to the

World Bank, the poor sanitation costs Ghana's economy around 420m

Ghana Cedis which is equivalent to $290m annually. Are we on the

onward march to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the

short possible time? It is as if most of the institutions that are

tasked to put things right are on sabbatical. Ghana is suffering from

a sanitation syndrome which is affecting every nook and cranny of the


If we want to witness accelerated growth and the economy jumping back

to life after Covid-19, then we cannot continue this way.

Looking at the sordid picture of sanitation in our country, it behoves

us to work towards the significant factors that will limit access to

sanitation for the majority of our people so as to come out with

long-lasting remedies to secure the present and future generations.

Such is the way to attain a good standard of living that will catapult

Ghana to greater heights, lifting Ghana's Flag aloft the highest to

fly even tall.

Let's bear in mind that the flag of Ghana when tainted because of poor

sanitation becomes irredeemably maligned. It signifies our identity

and soul, so we can only maintain our love for the red, gold, green

and the black star if we keep Ghana clean and spare a blot on the

flag. Sanitation problems in Ghana cannot be solved overnight. This issue needs generational influence!

In our pursuit of the surest measure of happiness, we must push our

efforts and embolden our commitment much more broader to secure a

nation that's safe, sound and free from the fear of disease.

The author, Bright Philip Donkor is the CSA'20 Online Journalist of

the Year; Social Commentator, Communication Practitioner, Columnist

and a Prolific Feature Writer.


Columnist: Bright Philip Donkor
Related Articles: