There are over 300 million people in Africa who lack access to adequate sanitation. Ghana makes up a significant part of this figure as the sanitation problems in the country continue to worsen.
Periodic cleanup in cities and towns have proven useful at a time but presently, they aren’t adequate and the health concerns due to poor sanitation continue to heighten.
In 2000, urban areas were generated 763,698 m3 of wastewater each day. This results in 280 million m3 in one year.
Unfortunately, only a small share of the wastewater generated in this area is collected. An even smaller share is treated which leads to pollution of drinking water of millions of people in the country. Inadequate management of wastewater has contributed to the sanitation problems in the country.
Sanitation Problems in Ghana & Solutions
Several factors have been identified as the main causes of the sanitation problem in the country.
Causes of Sanitation Problems in Ghana
Poor Land and Structural Management Issues
This factor influences the availability of sanitation facilities in many communities in Ghana. Due to the scarcity of these facilities, individuals or sanitation bodies are unable to carry out proper sanitation in the communities.
Poor land and structural management issues are been worsened by rapid population growth. Thus, there is more waste being added to society than been removed from it.
The lack of adequate physical planning and social infrastructure to make up for the rapid growth in population leads to bad public sanitation habits.
Lack of Awareness
Another reason for the growing sanitation problems in Ghana is due to the lack of awareness. The lack of individual and communal sanitation consciousness and awareness in Ghana makes people take sanitation less seriously.
Thus, they pile up heaps of garbage and refuse to pay or patronize waste management service providers as they are unaware of the health consequences of poor sanitation.
Effects of Poor Sanitation in Ghana
Sanitation is a serious issue in any country. When there are bad management and inadequate sanitation policies, it leads to poor sanitation which will have very bad effects on the country.
Poor sanitation leads to an outbreak of diseases due to the accumulation of waste. The accumulation of waste in the environment makes it easier for vectors to breed. Vectors like mosquitoes carry parasites that cause malaria in human.
Mosquitoes breed in stagnant waters which are a common sight in the streets and environment of Ghana.
At night, they become a disturbance and transmit malaria by biting and feeding on human blood. Malaria was responsible for 19% of recorded deaths in 2015. Admission due to the disease increased by 20% from 2000 – 2017.
The easiest way to prevent the disease is to get rid of their breeding grounds which can be done through proper sanitation and waste management policies.
Poor sanitation also makes it easier for disease-carrying animals like rats to breed and get closer to human settlement. These animals can easily spread communicable diseases which can affect an entire community.
Seventy percent of all diseases in Ghana are attributed to unsafe water and poor sanitation.
Discouragement of Tourist Trade
Poor sanitation in urban areas can discourage tourist trade due to the health complications involved. Tourism is one of the revenue sources of most African countries including Ghana.
Poor sanitation only makes the country look worse in the eyes of tourists who take their health and safety seriously.
Solutions To Sanitation Problems in Ghana
Planned cities are a solution that was suggested by the Ghana Institute of Planners. According to them, this will make it easier to enforce sanitation policies. It was also lead to an increase in sanitation activities.
Planned cities will make it easier for the government to know how much waste that can be generated on a monthly or yearly basis. With knowledge of that, it can provide the necessary sanitation facilities and land to manage the waste.
The growing population in Ghana has made this suggestion the best solution to the sanitation problem.
As the population grows, more waste is being introduced into the country. The present sanitation faculties aren’t able to contain such waste. Also, the waste management services providers find themselves overwhelmed when it comes to managing and disposing of the waste.
With adequate planning, the government can make things easier for water management service providers. In turn, this will keep the cities cleaner and free of diseases.
Individual and Communal Awareness
Increased individual and communal awareness are one of the best solutions to poor sanitation. Development of committees to manage and maintain sanitation improvement activities will go a long way to improve the environment.
These committees can promote individual actions by creating awareness of the importance of sanitation practices in their communities.
Increased knowledge and understanding of the effects of poor sanitation will make most people take it seriously and this will greatly reverse the effects already been faced by many communities.
Create Better Sanitation Policies
Sometimes creating awareness is not just enough. Another approach is to create policies that will exert pressure on landlords and waste management service providers to comply with the minimum services standards.
In some areas, landlords and waste management service providers are nonchalant which makes it easier for people to pile up garbage in the streets and their compounds. As there are no immediate consequences of such acts and most people continue to skip the sanitation fees, there becomes a buildup of waste which leads to several complications.
By imposing these policies on landlords, they will be more interested in keeping their environment clean to avoid fines and possible lockdown of their houses.
These fines can also be placed on specific individuals.
Ghana’s sanitation problems have gotten worse over the last years due to the implementing of wrong policies. The nonchalant attitude of individuals has also contributed to the increasing sanitation woes.
The lack of adequate sanitation facilities has made it difficult for waste management service providers to manage and dispose of the waste properly.
By implementing these solutions, it becomes easier to solve these sanitation problems. Also, this will save on the cost of treating diseases due to poor sanitation and create more revenue for the government through an increase in tourism.
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