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Opinions of Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Columnist: Amponsem, Joshua

Poor sanitation, river pollution, the most threatening environmental problems

Poor sanitation and river body pollution are the most threatening environmental problems in the Ghanaian society, a new study has found.

The Ghana Environmental Concern Meter (GECM), an annual public perception report on environmental protection performance in Ghana released by the Centre for Environmental Research and Policy Analysis (CERPA) has reported that poor sanitation, river body pollution, forest degradation and land degradation are the four most significant environmental problems in the Ghanaian society.

A sample of 837 people were surveyed, across 6 regions, whose population represents 68.9 per cent of the Ghanaian population. This study reported that poor sanitation and river body pollutions directly affect 69 per cent and 41 per cent of the Ghanaian public respectively.

On poor sanitation, the study found the Greater Accra region to be the most affected, where more than 90 per cent of residents are directly affected by its negative consequences. Again, the study reported that over 50 per cent of residents in the Ashanti region, Northern region, Upper West region, and the Western region are also directly affected by poor sanitation.

In the Eastern region where illegal mining (galamsey) has become rampant in recent times, river body pollution was found to be the most threatening environmental problem affecting nearly 75 per cent of the residents. River body pollution again was found to be a major threatening environmental problem in the Ashanti and Western regions where approximately 50 per cent of the residents were reported to be directly affected.

Other environmental problems reported to significantly affect the lives of the Ghanaian people include climate change, floods, bush fire, extreme drought, air and noise pollution. Poor spatial planning, the use of dangerous pesticides and herbicides, and loss of common and native biological species were also reported by the study as being environmental problems of public concern.

The study recommends the decentralization of environmental policies and programs to the regional and district levels to be the most effective way to address these environmental problems. This recommendation, according to the study is based on the fact that the environmental problems which affect the public are not universal in nature. Regions are faced with different environmental problems at various magnitudes and as a result have different priorities as to which environmental problem should receive public investment and support.

In addition, investing in green businesses, expansive and inclusive public environmental education, and smart reclamation of polluted rivers bodies as well as protection of all river bodies in the country were reported by the study as essential requirements to address these environmental problems which affect the Ghanaian people.

By: Centre for Environmental Research and Policy Analysis (CERPA)

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