The Urban Challenges Faced by Accra, The Biggest City in Ghana

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 882 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Sep 4, 2018

Words: 882|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Sep 4, 2018

Ghana has waste management difficulties that extend from the state to the local municipalities, and refuse of all shapes and sizes is a common sight in both urban and rural areas. These difficulties are concentrated and complicated by population pressures in the few heavily populated cities of which Accra is the most prominent. The capital and largest city of Ghana in Accra, which has an urban population of 2.27 million (Ghana Statistical Service, 2017) and keeps growing daily. The confluence of poor governance and human factors (such as indiscriminate dumping) has resulted in a city environment characterized by choked drains, clogged gutters, and garbage piles heaped in the open. Only 30% of all houses have toilets that actually flush. Only 1 in every 5 houses has functioning indoor plumbing. The public latrines that have been built to accommodate these disparities are overused and often shared by 10 or more people (AMA Report, 2016).

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Accra is currently divided into 16 waste collection zones each contracted to different waste management firm responsible for collecting and disposing of solid waste. Collection of solid waste from these zones has been delegated to the private sector. The AMA ….that is in charge of…concentrates on supervision of waste collection, monitoring of the public-private partnership, and management of final disposal points. Approximately 20% of the population receives weekly house-to-house collection. Accra generates between 1500-1800 tons of waste per day, but it has the capacity to collect only 1200 (66%) tons per day. At all the various levels of waste management, (sorting, collection, transportation, and disposal) there exist disruptions that pose a threat to the environment and public health. Outside of the home, health risks are no better. When disposal facilities are not accessible or have overflowed, residents will dispose of their waste in open spaces and surface drains. If drainage channels become blocked with solid waste, water cannot drain from the streets.

Blocked drains and standing water pools are a contributing factor in the endemic status of Malaria. Malaria accounted for 53 percent of all reported diseases at Ghana outpatient facilities in 2016 and is the leading cause of morbidity in Accra. Insufficient communal facilities have led to open defecation along beaches, drains, and open spaces. In this environment, there is a tendency for the fecal material to become intermixed with household refuse. Street runoffs also become a potential source for human infection when drains become contaminated with fecal matter. Poor sanitation practices are also a cause of cholera. Cholera, an acute intestinal infection caused by Vibrio cholera, infects humans through contaminated food and water. It is considered preventable disease persons perish needlessly. About 18% of households in the greater Accra region (mostly low-income households) burn their waste. This burning contributes to outdoor air pollution. Leachates from burned refuse enter the groundwater. Leaching of refuse into the water, particularly from household products like batteries, is a very pressing concern during the rainy season.

Many neighborhoods are situated in low-lying areas which are susceptible to floods. Contamination of surface water in these flood-prone areas raises the risk of exposure. This explains the statistically significant association between cholera prevalence and density of refuse dumps. The burning of domestic waste has been associated with respiratory illness. Households that are serviced inconsistently by waste collection companies sometimes burn their waste. In these households, respiratory diseases are more common in mothers and children.

Many approaches to waste management exist. Generally, solid waste in Accra is managed through economic instruments, landfills, incineration, recycling or reuse but has shown ineffective results. As an urban planner, I will address these issues in two ways:Recycling: Currently only 2% of Accra waste is recycled. Recycling is not promoted at the state or local executive branch reflecting the focus on waste collection and disposal. However, the success of other sub-Saharan recycling projects (Rwanda Solid Waste Collection and Biomass Recycling Project) suggests that it may be a realistic possibility for sustainable waste reduction.

Local plants complain that they have to clean and sort recyclable refuse – all of which add to the cost of recycling. If residents could be motivated (not simply educated) to sort goods before disposing of them, it could lower the cost of business and perhaps make recycling a more lucrative and effective industry worthy of more state support. Input Research: Labor is one of the most available inputs in Ghana’s waste management sector. It is certainly more readily available than capital stock and imported technologies. Historically, community participation in Accra municipal decisions has been low.

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Accra lacks the resources to organize dialogue sessions, and rarely employs facilitators to involve people in decision making. But no institute has responsibility for research into Accra’s major resource— its people. A major research effort on the economics of the waste management labor market is needed to determine if substantial gains in output, employment, and services can be had from the introduction of labor-intensive methods of waste collection and disposal (ex: the use of handcarts to retrieve garbage from collection points not reachable by trucks). It is possible that short-term efficiency gains could be had if waste companies used a higher ratio of labor to capital. These research demonstrations can help guide citywide policy and highlight how best to engage with the city’s poor communities.

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The Urban Challenges Faced by Accra, the Biggest City in Ghana. (2018, May 09). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from
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