Accras annual population growth rate of four percent makes it one of the fastest-growing metropolis in Africa giving rise to municipal waste management problems.
The citys increasing population of about five million inhabitants has also resulted in increased generation of volumes of waste, creating much concern to authorities responsible for managing the city, Mrs. Cindy Badoe, Deputy Director, in charge of Built Department of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said on Friday.
Speaking at the EPAs 40th Anniversary forum in Accra, Mrs. Badoe said waste management has become one of the biggest challenges confronting developing countries, including Ghana.
The forum discussed the: State of Waste Management in Ghana, Water Resources Management, Energy Resources Management and Food and Chemical Use.
Mrs. Badoe said out of a total of 2,800 metric tons of municipal solid waste generated per day in Accra, approximately 2,200 tons was collected leaving the backlog in open drains, and water bodies which resulted in flooding during the raining season.
Also, almost 97 per cent of all public owned and public managed sewage and fecal treatment plants in Accra and Tema are non-functional.
Of the 35 institutional treatment plants in the country, only four are operational, implying that only one per cent of the sewage generated in the country is treated.
She said 23 per cent of households practise open defecation, while 54 per cent of households used shared facilities which are generally unhygienic, and 13 per cent with access to unimproved toilets.
On challenges of waste management, Mrs Badoe said negative attitudes of the general public towards the environment in general, inadequate waste infrastructure; inadequate equipment and operational funds to support waste management activities; poor planning for waste management programmes, are some of the difficulties.
Others include unplanned human settlement, as well as the lack of political will to enforce bye-laws on sanitation and building regulations by the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies in Ghana.
She said since todays waste management challenges are systemic in character and cannot be tackled in isolation, there is the need to intensify public awareness and education, coupled with political commitment, as well as waste segregation at source to be encouraged.
Mrs. Badoe said planning units should be set up within the waste management departments of the Assemblies, to continuously review and plan for waste management activities, whereas promotion of waste treatment and material recovery, such as waste reduction, waste reuse, waste recycling should be maintained.
She said the EPA was doing its part to ensure that waste was properly managed in the City and so it had closed down dump sites, including the Oblogo, Sarbah, Anyaa dumpsites, and Teshie Compost Plant, in connection with its enforcement and compliance mandate.
However, the Nsumia Dumpsite at the La Nkwantanang District was currently being developed to serve the western part of Accra.
Reducing waste matters, protects the environment, protects our health and can save us money! Get started in reducing your household waste today, Mrs Badoe indicated.
She also urged waste management companies to equip themselves to collect segregated waste separately at different times and in different vehicles to avoid contamination.
In a speech read for Mr. Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije, the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, said waste management was a shared responsibility that needed to be handled by all, including individuals and stakeholders.
He announced that the AMA had acquired waste bins of which 8,000 would be distributed among city dwellers soon.
Mr. Daniel Amlalo, Executive Director of EPA, who was represented by Mr. John Pwamang, Deputy Executive Director in charge of Field Operation, called on all stakeholders to partner to ensure that waste was properly managed in the country.