IS GHANA MIGRATING FROM PARADISE TO HELL?
Asks - Mawutodzi Kodzo Abissath
|Burning of e-waste with its environmental pollution and health hazards in Ghana|
Once upon a time, Ghana was like the Garden of Eden! In fact, Ghana was Paradise, really! But now, it appears Ghana is slowly but steadily migrating from Paradise to Hell itself.
On Wednesday, April 9, 2014, a fellow MA Student of the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of the Erasmus University Rotterdam, located here in The Hague, The Netherlands, posted a link a popular UK-based online newspaper - Mail Online on the Agrarian and Environmental Studies (AES) 2014 webpage). The headline of the link reads: "The Worlds largest e-waste dumping ground."
Because I was interested in ecological issues like other colleagues of AES, I did not hesitate at all to click on the link. Then the opening paragraph of the story reads: "Think your television is recycled when you get rid of it? This is where it is likely to end up...dumping grounds such as this one, dubbed the world's biggest e-waste site."
As a Ghanaian, I knew of a similar situation in my country so my heart jumped into my mouth at once. And I decided to read further. And true to my fears, the story was about that very place called Agbogloshie in Accra, the capital city of Ghana. The story was filed by one James Rush with heart-breaking pictures by Kevin McElvaney for illustration. And innocently, the youth who were involved in the venture with their very lives at stake posed for the photographer to snap them. I wonder how much was paid them anyway. But that is not the focus of my point here.
There is a saying that, "You don't wash your dirty linens in public." But because what I saw on the link has far more dangerous health implications for the people of my country, and the fact that the story has already been put not only in the public domain, but on global stage for the entire world to see, it could no longer be described 'washing dirty linens in public.'
What puzzles me is whether the environmental protection authorities in my country know of this global e-waste dumping grounds or not. But I know they know. Because our local media have been writing and talking about this particular "ecological tsunami" in our capital city. But who cares? We are waiting for 100 people to die at ago one day before we will start acting. That is Ghana for you!
The object of this article is not to try to cover up or sweep the gravity of this story under carpet. Rather to expose it the more for those who did not see it on the UK paper to see it on my blog and even send the story to other leading media houses in my country to make noise about it. After all that is one of the duties of the media - to expose the rut in society. There is also this Ghanaian proverb which says, "If your hear is dirty and you don't go to the barber, nobody will cut it for you."
But before I link this deadly story of the Mail Online let me say one or two unique thing about Ghana. Ghana is a magnificent small country on the West coast of Africa. It bathed by the Atlantic ocean with some nice beaches. About 95% of all slave castles in Africa can be found in Ghana. Ghana is approximately the center of the world one can fly easily from any parts of the globe to the country with ease. It has 25 million mouths to feed now.
Ghana is endowed with rich natural resources as well as human capital. It has gold - that is why it used to called the Gold Coast before independence. It has diamond, bauxite, cocoa, arable lands and now oil and gas just to mention a few. Ghana's human capital is epitomized by the Former UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan.
Besides the Queen of England who was represented at the time of dependence in 1957 and danced with our first President Osagyfo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, many, many Heads of States from Africa itself, Asia, the Americas, Europe and Australia, have trooped to Ghana to savour the proverbial hospitality of the people of Ghana. The most striking fact is that three Presidents of the only world super power on the face of the earth today - the United States of America, have visited Ghana between 1998 and 2011. This is not common phenomenon in Africa at all. Ghana was accorded this honour because the country is seen as the beacon of democracy in Africa.
If Ghana is seen to be doing so well diplomatically in global politics, why is the country faring so poorly in political economy and political ecology? At this threshold of the 21st century when global warming and climate change have become a focal point in global environmental politics, Ghana seems to be retrogressing terribly.
As I write this piece, there is an animal in Ghana called |”GALAMSEY.” Galamsey is not an animal at all. It is illegal small scale surface mining also known as ‘artisanal mining’. The phenomenon has virtually destroyed almost all forests; degraded all farmlands and polluted all rivers and water bodies in the country. The situation became so dire that in May 2013, the Ghanainan President Mr John Dramani Mahama had to set up an Inter-ministeral Committee dubbed “Anti-Galamsey Taskforce to find lasting solution the problem.
The American way
Ghana more or less sees America as a role model economically, politically and socially. In fact, most Ghanaians would want Ghana to be like America more than any other country on earth. So, I will also expect Ghanaians to ecologically imitate America.
The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was recently reported to have stated that climate change poses multiple threats to U.S. and global security. In his view, climate change is likely to exacerbate economic and social inequality, and increase competition and conflict over agricultural, marine, and water resources, he said. “It can result in the massive displacement of people, including those whose livelihoods depend on these resources,” Mr. John Kerry noted.
According to The Secretary of State, the case for climate action ‘is rooted’ in sound science and economics. Mr. John Kerry pointed out that The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has laid out clear and compelling scientific evidence of climate change and its link to human influence. And I totally agreed with him because the e-waste dumping in Ghana has nothing to do with natural disaster but purely human activity.
Other effects of climate change which the powerful man of America underscored which must engage the attention of the entire globe were that “Glaciers are melting, heat waves are more frequent and longer-lasting, and sea levels are rising more quickly than anticipated,” The U.S. Secretary of State disclosed.
If citizens of advanced nations and scientifically knowledgeable people of the world are talking about climate change and its effects on human life and nature like this, then the rest of the world, especially African countries with particular reference to Ghana must be environmentally conscious of what they do, how they do it and why.
Now, here is the ink to Mail Online News about environmental pollution in Ghana:
The author is MA Student (AES) at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam The Haughe, The Netherlands email@example.com