Archive for May, 2012

May 7, 2012

Water situation to get worse as population increases

The 2012 United Nations report on freshwater resources, the World Water Development Report, says about four billion people lack access to safe water.

It said the figure could get worse as the global population is likely to reach 9.1 billion in 2050 and 68 per cent of these 9 billion people would live in cities.

The report said in many countries, water availability for agriculture is already limited and it is set to worsen as agriculture needs to increase production to cater for 9 billion people.

It said these issues amongst others would substantially increase water and energy consumption, leading to increased competition for water resources.

The report further noted that as well as economic growth, the diets of many people are shifting from predominantly starch-based ones to meat and dairy and these require more water to produce.

It said the Asia-Pacific region is home to 60 percent of the world’s population but it has only 36 percent of its water resources. It further stated that the European and North American populations consume a considerable amount of virtual water embedded in imported food and other products.

It stated that each person in North America and Europe consumes at least 3000 litres per day of virtual water in imported food, compared to 1400 litres per day in Asia and 1100 litres per day in Africa.

The report also said various estimates suggests that approximately 3.5 earth-sized planets would be needed to sustain a global population to achieve the current lifestyle of the average European or North American.

It said nearly all Arab countries suffer from water scarcity with water consumption rates exceeding total renewable water supplies.

The report stated that India is growing maize, sugar cane, lentils and rice in countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Senegal and Mozambique to feed its domestic market, while Europeans are seeking 3.9 million hectares of African land to meet their 10 per cent biofuel target by 2015.

It said the amount of water required for biofuel plantations could be particularly devastating to regions such as West Africa, where water is already scarce, given that one litre of ethanol from sugarcane requires 18.4 litres of water and 1.52 square metres of land.

Source: Ghana, e-tv

May 7, 2012

POISON!… Solar Mining pollutes rivers with mercury

STORY: KORYEKPOR AWLESU FREEMAN, BACK FROM OSINO, Eastern region of Ghana.

Information reaching Today newspaper indicates that activities of Solar Mining Company, a local gold mining company operating within the Fanteakwa District of the Eastern Region have culminated in the pollution of the Anoma and Akusu rivers within the township.
This paper gathered that the usage of mercury by Solar Mining Company for its mining operations along the streams leading to the above rivers has resulted in the blockage to the livelihood of communities that depend on the said rivers.
The affected communities, about six in number, are therefore desperately appealing to government and stakeholders in the mining industry to quickly relocate them to forestall any eventuality.
According to the residents in these communities, namely Saaman, Juaso, Bunso, Nsutam, Nkawkwa and others dotted along the affected areas, they can no longer bear the numerous challenges they face as a result of the mining activities.
Solar Mining in recent times has been whirled in a lot of controversies after it used mercury and other dangerous chemicals to pollute Anoma and Akusu rivers, the two main sources of drinking water in the communities, which resulted in the death of the controversial “six fish.”
Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (Wacam), a mining advocacy non-governmental organization, recently issued a press statement, calling on the central government to take a second look at the mining activities of Solar Mining but to no avail.
According to Wacam, the people in the afore-mentioned communities are farmers who usually engage in the production of food crops such as maize, cocoyam, cassava and cocoa, but over the years the mining company has destroyed their natural resources and vast arable land making standard of living of the people in the area nothing to write home about.
But Solar Mining had insisted that it never used mercury or dangerous chemical in its mining operation.

In the midst of these controversies, some inhabitants together with the Assemblyman of the area, Hon. Gyeatuo Kyenkyenku, have pointed accusing fingers at the Chief of Saaman, Barima Okuampa Agyemang, for being in supreme support of Solar Mining to pollute their rivers and destroy natural resources and vast arable lands.
But the Chief of Saaman, Barima Okuampa Agyemang, when contacted, confirmed the unacceptable mining activities of Solar Mining but flatly denied the allegation of his support to the company to pollute their rivers and destroyed natural resources and vast arable lands.
Nana Barima Okuampa Agyemang, 74, said though he did not stay in the area, at no time did he support unacceptable activities that could inflict poverty on his people.
But, a fact-finding mission embarked on by Today to the affected communities, tells a sordid story of a lot more affected fishes being killed and rivers being polluted as a result of the dangerous chemicals the company used in its operation.
Contrary to the assertions that the mining company does not use mercury in its operation, this paper can disclose signs of mercury or other suspected dangerous chemicals scattered along the incident areas where sources of drinking water were located.
And although Solar Mining has provided a poly tank to serve the water needs of the affected communities, a lot of questions could be raised about its safety.
The poly tank had been placed unguarded in a middle of a thick bush, about some 300 metres from the nearest communities.
Residents told Today that when the pollution of their rivers occurred, they suggested to the mining companies to provide each community a poly tank to guarantee the safety of their drinking water, but rather fell on deaf ears.
In an exclusive interview with the Assemblyman of the area, Hon. Gyeatuo Kyenkyenku, confirmed that since the operations of Solar Mining in Saaman and its adjacent communities use mercury or other dangerous chemicals for its operations which pollute Anoma and Akusu rivers.
“We the people in Saaman are farmers who usually engage in the production of food crops such as maize, cocoyam, cassava and cocoa, but over the years the company has destroyed our natural resources and vast arable land making standard of living nothing to write home about.”
He averred that since the company commenced its “irresponsible operations in December 2008, it has diverted River Akusu and Anoma and mined in it,” adding that the company put rusted narrow iron pipes in the two rivers, until 2010 when the Eastern Regional Director of EPA, Mr Addo- Okyere, ordered the company to remove the rusted pipes.
According to him, the company dug big man-holes along the two rivers which, he said, do not only serve as death traps to farmers but also serve as mosquito breeding grounds.
Contaminated water from the pits, he noted, discharge into the afore-mentioned river courses, thus polluting them and making them unsafe for drinking.
He noted that Mr Okyere upon realising in May 2010 that Solar Mining had no EPA permit and mining permit ordered for the shutdown of mining operations of the company but the company unfortunately still continued with its illegal operations.
He indicated that in a recent meeting organised by the Saaman chief and his elders including the opinion leaders, a consensus was reached that Solar Mining Company/Kibi Goldfields must evacuate their mining equipment from Saaman stressing that a letter to that effect is ready to be sent to the Managing Director of the company, Mr. Samuel Odalai Lamptey.
“In Saaman, cocoa farming is our business; we are able to finance our children’s education from the sales of cocoa and cash crops like oil palm. We are an agricultural community and we want to remain as farmers hence Saaman opposes surface gold alluvial mining even if Solar is issued with the necessary mining permit,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Wacam, Mr. Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, has rubbished allegations by a section of youth from Saaman-Juaso that he (Mr. Daniel Owusu-Koranteng) runs the operations of Wacam as a family business together with his wife, Mrs. Hannah Owusu-Koranteng.
He described the allegations as baseless and lacked credibility, saying that the allegation was a calculated ploy by some rented youth in the area to discredit him and his family.
“Wacam is a registered mining advocacy non-governmental organisation with its workers from different societies in the country,” he explained

May 3, 2012

NGO launches project to improve WASH services to Lagos slum

Bread of Life Development Foundation through its eWASH blog is today starting a media advocacy project to draw local and international attention to the deplorable living conditions, particularly poor access to safe water and sanitation services in Makoko (coordinates: Latitude : 6.496. Longitude : 3.388.), a slum in Lagos state, Nigeria.

http://assemblyonline.info/?p=16066

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May 2, 2012

SLUM IN THE CITY, A BREEDING GROUND FOR CHOLERAH

ImageCholera is one of the unpleasant diseases many Ghanaians today, wouldn’t want to come across, yet our surroundings still remains dirty. No one would want to be infected by this dreadful disease that has become a pandemic in this country in 2011 and most recently with some recorded deaths.

Following the cholera outbreak with an eagle’s eyes, just to try to figure out something right. Especially to investigate exactly where the pandemic came from, its causes as well as places it is making waves in the country and possibly ways to manage and prevent further outbreaks of cholera in Ghana.

According to the Ghana Health Service, more than 5,000 cases of cholera outbreak  have been recorded so far in the various health facilities in the country, with close to 69 deaths already recorded and may be still counting if swift measures are not taken to remedy  the situation.

Extra urgent attentions must be must be given to the cholera outbreak by the Government and the various stakeholders in the health sector including non-governmental organizations. (NGO). Though the Government has done immensely well and has so far committed GHC 5,000,000 (million) into the fight and management of the pandemic.

One may be sitting right in the cleanest place of the city or country and still may be knocked down by cholera. Because flies and other flying insects may carry the cholera bacterium or diseases from one place to another, thereby spreading the disease anywhere, “All cannot be safe anymore, and then all will be at risk, no matter where you live in the city or even at the cleanest environment.”

Not too much attention was given to the “Sodom and Gomorrah” (located at Old Fadama Accra, Ghana’s capital city) by the country’s media divide as we seek explore the causes of cholera in Ghana for a solution to be found

. “One may wonder why the name Sodom and Gomorrah in the 21 century, yes, it exists in Ghana in a different way”.

On 15 April, 2011, we took an exclusive investigate tour of the much acclaimed BIGGEST SLUM in Ghana “Sodom and Gomorrah” or Old Fadama.

The Slum, popularly known as “Sodom and Gomorrah”, is located in the heart of the city of Accra’s central business district, in the busy Market area of “Agbogbloshi”. It is few meters away from the “Abosay Okai Central Mosque”, and not too far from the “International Central Gospel Church (ICGC)”, all houses of The Proclaimed Most High God.

As soon as one enters the slum, he or she was received and greeted by bad outdoors coupled with choked dug outs believed to be gutters, full of plastic, human and solid wastes of all kinds, just in front wooden structures (kiosk) they use as rooms. In fact there were stagnant water all over the area and tones of rubbish giving out stinking smells with flies all over the area.

What remains in my mind as I go through was to report myself to the nearest clinic for checkups as soon as I finished my work. I sucked all day whilst my stomach aches.

Just like me, the people living in the slum need serious medical attention, because “am 100 percent sure they are all ill and they don’t know it yet”.

Occupants of Sodom and Gomorrah do not have any good structures to be called rooms, let alone a house or home. They put up tiny wooden structures in form of rooms know as kiosks just to lay down their heads after a hard day’s work.

The kiosks ranges from small, medium, large and even wooden two-story structures all made with ply woods.

The area lacks all basic social amenities such as good drinking water, bath house, toilets, rubbish containers, schools and clinics to make life a little easier.

Vulnerable women and children made up of the majority of the residents.

 Cooking activities all over the area is appalling. Women can be seen cooking various kind of dishes in the fitly surroundings just near a rubbish damp and a toilet. And the delicacies would soon be ready to be sold to the outside innocent people.

One may never know where consumed meat is coming from. Young men trying to make a living dressed goats and cows in dirty surroundings. They use burning car tyres to remove the hairs from the animals which according to doctors have serious implication to the health of human beings.

 Livestock can be seen feeding on tones of rubbish as well as school going age children playing at the same places like no one’s business.

Just a stone throw away is a 17 sitter Pan Latrine; in fact the state of the latrine is nothing to write home about. Behind the latrine can be seen big bowls, put behind under each of them to collect the human waste. When it is full, the bowls are brought out and emptied into the Popular Korle-Lagoon.

The Korle-Lagoon was once a beautiful and productive lagoon which breads fishes such as tilapia for consumption, but now has turned a big gutter due to negative human activities going on near the lagoon.

There is no single refuse container, proper bath house or well-built toilet in this in the slum. Or is it because it’s a slum? We all need to answer the question.

Innocent children can be seen playing around tons of garbage.

It must be emphasized that it is against International Human Right to ignore people living in Slums to their faith without doing any concrete efforts to relocate or even built new low-cost house for them.

The slum has a population of more than eighty thousand (80,000) people, more than the population of many constituencies in the country Ghana.

As the crèche sings, all works and no play, makes jack a dull boy. It was such an amazing spectacle to see that the slum has also got various entertainment centers like bars, nightclubs and even video centers with MultiTV, DSTV and STRONG digital TV receiver dishes can be seen on roofs. It was such a complete community on its own.

Education they say is the key for national development, as there was no single government educational facility in the area. Therefore poor school structures has been put up by private dwellers in the Slum to cater for children whose parent go out to do business, they charge little amounts of moneys for a day’s care.

I believe and if you can help me take a critical look at the recent cholera outbreaks in Accra last year, coupled with the pathetic and unhygienic  situations at slum, then  it must be the not too talk about home of cholera in Capital city of Accra.

After making all my observations, I can concretely conclude that Sodom and Gomorrah was one of the homes where the cholera outbreak came in Accra “but no one is talking about it”.

Investigations also reveals that, when slum dwellers go to the hospital and are diagnosed with cholera, they never tell they live in the slum because everybody knows how Sodom and Gomorrah is, in terms of its unhygienic nature.

I therefore call on all well-meaning Ghanaians to go and witness for themselves first hand, how unclean the slum is and the threat it posed to the health of all. If necessary help find an alternative cleaner place for them and not forceful evictions, as it’s against international human right.

Where is the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, In its bid to make Accra a Millennium City, they must sit up, and first find a lasting solution to the  situations at Sodom and Gomorrah before thinking of  making Accra like New York or Berlin. As the adage goes “Charity they say begins at home”.

The Government through the Ministry of Health, Public Health Directorate and the Ghana Health Service including the Ministry of Environment Science and technology and other stakeholders must put in more efforts to give a proper plan for the slum by relocating to a more humane area without forceful evictions.

The government however, must be also commended for the stands to fight the cholera outbreak in four regions of the country and more also needs be done.

According to the UN Habitat and CHF Ghana, they are more than 5.500, 000 (million) Ghanaians living in Slums. And for Ghana to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 7 (MDG Goal 7) by 2015, then Ghana must to improve significantly the living standards of its people especially those living in slums and Ghanaians at large.

 

Report By: Murtala Mohammed Bako, Accra Ghana

Tel: +233 249314858

Email: murtalabako1995@yahoo.com

 

May 2, 2012

slum structures

slum structures

slum structures

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