The stories I missed in 2011 (well…almost)

Months have passed since I’ve touched this blog but with good reason. I was concentrating on finishing my last semester of school for my bachelor’s degree and so now the great fight is over (yay me!). In the midst of being buried in my books, I noticed interesting headlines flying by my eyes but I didn’t quite have the time to pen down my views on some of the nonsense. I figured with the year going out I might as well get it off my chest before 2012 begins. So here we go!

Dawhenya Residents kick against rotten fish

Now, this story just made me want to puke. Apparently there are some food canning companies that transport openly-exposed decomposed fish waste through the vicinity of Dawhenya. Residents claim it smells so bad that people can’t sell food outside and believe it’s the cause for some diseases spreading around the community. The final dumping place of the fish waste also seems to be near Dawhenya. They have made complaints to the EPA that these companies should be dealt with in the appropriate manner. Who knows what came of that? (If you do, please let me know). But what I love about this story is that the people took matters into their own hands. Instead of waiting for the EPA (who most likely didn’t even show up) they decided to block the roads that those truckers use to bring the garbage into their area and stage a protest. I applaud the people of Dawhenya and call on any community facing something similar to take control of their environment and health for themselves. Sometimes it’s the only way. What amazes me about this craziness though is that it’s being done by a food company. I would pay good money to know which companies were really doing this. You would think that any sensible food company wouldn’t want to tarnish their image and sales by making their potential customers sick… journalists, this is a scandal, where are you? Stop reporting on the politicians insulting themselves and expose the real news abeg.

Toxic Pollution at New Takoradi

OK…. The first story made me nauseous, well this one makes me itch. So there are various companies operating around the Butuah Lagoon located in New Takoradi. This lagoon serves as the main source of income for many young men in the area and people also swim there. Someway, somehow it got polluted and all the fish in this entire water body died.  Like 40,000 fish, one story said. The fish floated to the top and washed ashore. Some residents of the area consumed the fish and were poisoned. And the usual happened. The lagoon was closed off, the EPA came, took samples of the water and soil and said they will investigate.  An updated article says that it must have been caused by one timber company but they haven’t identified which. (anyone heard any update?) Knowing how this our EPA functions (or malfunctions), the traditional rulers of the area did the only thing they knew to do. They inquired from the companies around. No one took responsibility so they resorted to performing rituals to appease the gods of the lagoon so that they would help them find the culprits. In this 2011 paa?! Ghana ad3n? Uncle Atta, if it was your village that was being corroded like this, you would have every company dealt with and maybe even shut down. But because we fail to see every Ghanaian as a human being, we close our eyes to such atrocities and take the bribes from the companies that are doing the dumping. EPA could have sent me to Butuah with my water testing kit for free and I would have at least forced to produce something for the sake of the innocent people. I wonder who they will vote for in the upcoming elections… anyways.

Accra Floods

As for this one we all know it, saw it, felt it. But just in case you didn’t, click on the link to read the full story. So there were horrific rains in Accra (which is not strange, Ghana is a tropical country) and the place FLOODED. Not all of Accra, yes I know, but enough of Accra that properties were lost, people displaced and residents died. This story made me so sad because this is such a preventable disaster! Ghana is being portrayed outside as an upcoming economy in Africa but I believe this tragedy brings our marks down. I was asked (by the Mirror newspaper) what I would have done to prevent such flooding in the future and to me its pretty simple. Find a place for the water to go. You know it will rain during the rainy season, as a matter of fact, it rained and flooded last year too. So this isn’t a new story. Some of you might have seen this BBC post by Elizabeth Ohene (please read it, its very good and summarizes my thoughts) that recounts the history of flooding in Ghana since the days of Nkrumah. And the results aren’t just the immediate deaths but also the deaths caused by diseases that will follow.  According to her post, the Accra Mayor has an estimate of $500m for the construction of storm drains. This may seem like a huge amount but its worth preventing the damage, loss, shame and sorrow those floods cause every year. So when will a government get enough guts to do the right thing?

COP 17. What was Ghana’s role?

Sorry, no link for this story. Why? Because Ghana didn’t report anything! (nothing that I could find anyways). For those who aren’t quite sure what COP 17 is, it’s the 17th Conference of Parties for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. At these meetings, all countries account for their participation in combating global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and try to strengthen international efforts against climate change. We all know that climate change is a pressing global issue and it is affecting Africa the worse (didn’t we just finish talking about floods?). This year’s conference was held in Durban, South Africa – the first COP to be held on the African continent, an opportunity for Africa to finally speak up for our climate, our land and our future. The decisions that were made during the sessions will affect everyone on the earth but what part did Ghana play in the negotiations? Did we talk at all? And what were our commitments to the Kyoko Protocol? Are we monitoring our emissions? Are we monitoring the progression (or digression) of Ghana’s climate over time? The only evidence I found that we were giving it some slight thought was this article that basically says that Ghana knows it should do something… “However the consensus from the EPA is that enactment of wholesale legislation may stifle economic development. It is thus preferred that every industry sets targets which can be achieved and enforced as part of its policy guidelines and these guidelines do not necessarily have to be enacted as legislation.” which basically means… don’t expect much from us.

I guess my point of all this ranting is that…  some groups of people don’t seem to be living up to their jobs.  #1. If as a journalist you uncover such a story, follow up so that we may see the rule of law in action. #2 If these issues have been addressed by the EPA then a very public statement should have been issued to that effect so that the public is aware. And if these issues have not been addressed then EPA why do we pay you? #3. If you are an incoming government and you claim the people are your priority but you sit back for annual waste, degradation and pollution to occur then I’m sorry, you’re a liar.

And with that I wish you all a happy 2012. May we do it bigger, better and GREENER!!

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About The Green Ghanaian Intiative

Akua Akyaa Nkrumah is a Ghanaian environmental technologist based in Accra, Ghana. She studied Environmental Science and Technology at the University of Maryland - College Park. She currently works as a consultant for environment and climate change in Accra and has a passion for water, sanitation, recycling and renewable energy
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3 Responses to The stories I missed in 2011 (well…almost)

  1. nana says:

    Spot on! You said all that there is to say. I hope it causes the change that we need to see or at least start something that would help Ghana develop. Big ups!

    Like

  2. Nkulumo says:

    Certainly covers up for the long absence. Nice roundup and Good read. Looking forward to more of these.

    Like

  3. The sad thing about the floods is a dear friend lost a family to the rising water. I hope it doesn’t occur again.

    Like

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