Sanitation in Ghana, any lessons from Kigali?

Gbese Sanitation11 File photo: A filthy community in Ghana's capital, Accra

Fri, 9 Mar 2018 Source: Issah Fuseini

Democracy is not simply a license to indulge individual whims and proclivities. It is also holding oneself accountable to some reasonable degree for the conditions of peace and chaos that impact the lives of those who inhabit one’s beloved extended community.

So where does Accra go from here? The biggest problem facing Accra is that of mindset. Accra’s people need to adjust their mindset to the changing times. It is no longer ok 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. Authorities from the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) must implement proper sanitation planning. Without, the above Accra will continue on its course with disease and death.

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. In 2008 over $700 million dollars was spent on treating malaria in Ghana. That figure has not slowed down. Malaria is the number one health problem all over Ghana, especially in Accra.

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. This means about 3,000 people died of malaria in Ghana that year alone, most of them 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 a lack of proper refuse dumping sites and improper disposal of waste. Deputy Health Minister Rojo Mettle Nunoo has asked assemblies to implement their sanitation by-laws. He has stated that Accra and other larger cities face a 13% chance of a cholera epidemic. He also stated that frequent occurrences of the outbreak happen because many homes, work places, and public places do not have facilities.

Kigali was named the best city in Africa, it was not by magic, not by mistake and not for favour but through hard work and dedication, enforcement of laws and applying them without fear or favour. The country’s 2008 took a pain to ban on non-biodegradable plastic is often mentioned as a cause. Another is that on the last Saturday of every month, people across the country commit time to projects aimed at improving the country’s public spaces, in a mandatory practice called Umuganda —loosely translated as “coming together to achieve a common purpose. Ghana has also adopted same method of cleaning our cities every last day of every month, but question is, after cleaning what next? Even the one removed from gutters are left to go back into the gutters, because we are not discipline and cannot do what is right.

What is so special that Rwanda can do and we cannot do? I feel ashamed sometimes calling myself Ghanaian. Rwanda is following the ‘broken windows’ theory: if you ensure that basic rules are followed, you have a better chance of enforcing higher-level behaviour as well. In Rwanda, people actually obey traffic rules. You can walk on the streets at midnight without fear. And senior officials are actually caught, shamed and jailed for corruption, ask yourself, do we have same in Ghana? Actually I'm compel asked these two questions: Do our leaders drive past this every day and do nothing about it? And, do the people themselves not care about this mess on their own doorsteps? Exactly the questions I asked in this column, we don’t really have any answers.

By: Issah Fuseini

Columnist: Issah Fuseini