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Opinions of Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Columnist: Rosemond Quaye Dzimah

Meeting SDG 6: Through the lenses of Gbegbese

Inefficient waste collection and lack of disposal facilities are the most tormenting problems facing developing countries especially Ghana. This situation brought the realities of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 6 into mind as I decided to take a walk in Gbegbese, a suburb of Accra.

Gbegbese is a community located in the Ablekuma West Municipality. It has become a town engulfed with filth and dirt due to the nature of the settlement and inadequate waste collection bins available to the inhabitants.

The name Gbegbese came about with respect to a stream called ‘Gbegbe’ and the ‘Se’ literally meaning back which traces its origin to the Ghanaian native language ‘Ga’. The settlement in Gbegbese is unplanned leading to the development of slums and subsequent inability to manage.

Sanitation is a proper means of keeping the environment from human contacts with hazards of waste. The hazards include both chemical and biological agents of diseases such as microbiological or physical hazards. Hazardous waste which is very harmful to human health includes domestic and industrial sewage, faeces of humans and animals, among other waste.

The ill sanitation in Gbegbese to a large extent is self-infringed due to the continuous dumping of refuse by residents at unauthorised areas within the community. The Government of Ghana in its effort to control poor sanitation in the country institutionalised “ the national sanitation day” in the year 2015 which is to be observed effectively first Saturday of every month in order to clear the sewage systems and clean the environment.

To enable each and every community participate in this exercise to create a serene environment without dirt, Zoom Lion Ghana Limited on 8th February, 2016 handed over 400 new waste management trucks and 5000 tricycles to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDA’S) in Accra to help in sanitation and waste management in the country.

Per the last check on October 2 2017, Gbegbese is having only one waste collection bin which when full, the inhabitants are compelled to dump refuse anywhere.

Due to overcrowding, the entire community is fast becoming a slum as a result of the fact that more people are competing for space on the small piece of land. Resulting in pressure on the little amenities available in the community.

Again, social vices such as robbery and various forms of immoralities is on the rise in the community. Inadequate waste bins is a major contributing factor which has led to the high rate of improper disposal of waste in the town. Residents do not have any easy flow of drainage system since there is none available within the community.

Since the town is located at the coastal belt of the Greater Accra Region, the men engage themselves in fishing activities to earn them income to cater for their families. These fishermen go on fishing expedition with their children and also sell fishes to women who buy it on credit and pay later. The women on the other hand also engage in fish selling and most are fishmongers.

Solid waste and poor sanitation in Gbegbese requires a concern of government, politicians and corporate entities to attack vigorously on these urban waste problems because aside the health issues this situation poses to residents, it is a major threat to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 6 which seeks to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Certainly, the issue of sanitation is not a "preserve" of Gbegbese but many other places in the heart of Accra due to the rampant rural urban migration.

Perhaps, starting an environmental conscious campaign through the media and educational institutions and well as religious organisations would contribute immensely in a positive way towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 6.

Again, law enforcement as far as sanitation is concerned should be strengthened to ensure cleaner cities and healthier citizens. The temptation is for us as a people to hit our chest in pride and say we are doing well yet, a painstaking reflection will compel us to be modest and we will come to the realisation that there is much more that needs to be than in other to achieve SDG goal 6. You have a role to play and so do I.

By: Rosemond Quaye Dzimah

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