• Cordie Aziz

One of Africa’s most promising cities has a trash problem

Updated: Jan 29, 2019

Heavy burden.

Accra, Ghana

Ghana is the world’s fastest growing economy, with a government set on attracting investment and tourism. But residents of its biggest city, from taxi drivers to academics, are overwhelmed by its state.

Accra’s gutters are persistently clogged, despite pressure on government and promises in return. A common complaint through the city is that when people clean out the gutters, waste will sit in a pile nearby and eventually find its way back. Piles of rubbish sit on street corners, picked on by birds. After a storm, plastic bottles washed out with the rain return to line the beaches.

While waste management is a nationwide issue in Ghana, it’s most obvious in Accra, a fast-growing city of four million that generates about 3,000 metric tonnes of waste a day. In 2012, the World Bank estimated that poor sanitation was costing Ghana’s economy around 420 million Ghana cedis ($290 million) each year, equivalent to 1.6% of its GDP. The study found most of these costs come from the annual premature death of 19,000 Ghanaians, largely due to poor sanitation and hygiene.

Allowing fresh ideas into the sector would be key to meeting Akufo-Addo’s target, argues environmental educator and campaigner Cordie Aziz. While the local assembly and central government were taking the president’s pledge seriously, Aziz says more innovative ideas are needed to really affect change. There were other small, innovative startups in Ghana she wants to see working with the government.

Her non-profit, Environment 360, offers recycling education in schools in Ghana, funded through a recycling program, membership fees and partnerships with other programs. Educating children and making recycling compulsory in the hospitality sector should be key aspects in any cleanup plan, she said.

“The inability to sort out the waste issue in Ghana has huge impact, not only for our environment and our communities but also for our economic situation.” Aziz says. “We are at a critical point and it’s something that has to absolutely be done, not only by one player—but every player in the system.”

See here for more details on the trash problem of the world's fastest growing economy.

Rubbish washed out during flooding often finds its way back to Accra’s beaches.

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