Friday, June 22, 2012

The Untapped Helper in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Ghana – Waste Management (1)

"The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard."— Gaylord Nelson

Climate change will impact future spatial patterns, growth and development worldwide. To reduce Ghana’s vulnerability and increase our adaptive capacity as a country, Ghana has taken various steps such as preparing the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NCCAS). It was developed on the basis that unless mechanisms are put in place to ensure resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change, national development will be hampered. The country is also addressing the socio-economic challenges climate change may present as it threatens secure livelihoods and social and economic development in Ghana.

As a tropical country with considerable forest reserves, it has been recognized that significant contribution that will improve policies and actions to reduce deforestation and degradation can play within both mitigation and adaptation. The Government of Ghana through the Forestry Commission (FC) is working to engage with both national and international actors in preparing Ghana’s national strategy for REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) and REDD+.

These steps are laudable! However, a ‘sleeping giant’ whose power if properly harnessed can bring untold benefits has been left to sleep. This sleeping ‘giant’ is WASTE and its management or is it mismanagement in Ghana.

As Economist, E.W. Zimmerman said in the 1930’s, “Resources are not, they become”. His assertion was that resources are not fixed things; instead their meaning and value come to light only as we appraise their worth and develop the technical and scientific knowledge to transform them into useful commodities. The importance of resources depends therefore upon "cultural appraisals," and the value of their distribution and use changes.
Waste is wealth!

If properly valued and appropriate mechanisms are devised to manage it, Ghana can reap bountifully from the waste which as of now threatens to engulf the nation. Not only will the health of the populace improve and Ghana look better; we could be our own Captain Planets! We could save our world and help reduce the likely impacts of climate change on generations yet unborn.

"Trash is cash"

To be continued….

The author, Afua S. Prempeh, is an environmentalist and writer. She studied Natural Resources Management at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and went on to pursue a post graduate degree in Environmental Policy and Management at the University of Gloucestershire, UK. She currently works at the Environmental Protection Agency, Ghana.


  1. Afua, so where has Ghana gone wrong? Right Policy? Implementation of policies? Enforceable egislation? Lack of foresight? Priority?

  2. Three things:
    - Absence of strong leadership with foresight and the will power to do what is right or to implement legislation for fear of losing favor with the populace
    - Indiscipline – people want to be able to do whatever they like, when and where they want it without answering to anyone. People make flimsy excuses to get away with what they know is wrong
    - Unwillingness to change, change is not pleasant but it is important and behavioral change is paramount in waste management in particular and for the cause of environmental management

  3. Anticipating the next instalment. What's important to me is how we the readers take action on how we can manage waste better. Hope you can share more insight on that.

  4. Wonderful introduction. We are waiting for the next episode of this series. I hope you will touch on both liquid and solid waste and not just solid waste.

  5. Afua,
    The next and what you said would be the final episode may be very loaded judging from the suggestions that are coming up from Clue and Theodore.

    1. Thankfully, we will not have to wait too long to find out. ;-)


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