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					health (Goal 5) the incidence of malaria and other diseases (Goal 7) and
environmental sustainability (Goal 7).

1.2. Statement of the research problem
The problem under investigation in this study is the worsening solid waste situation
found in urban settlements in Ghana. The concentration of population and business
activities in Ghanaian cities is being accompanied by a rapid increase in the volume of
solid waste generated from production and consumption activities. Against this
situation of mounting waste production, municipal authorities in the country seem
unable to organise adequate collection and safe disposal of waste within their
jurisdictions. As a result, urban settlements in the country are saddled with a
worsening solid waste situation which proves to be intractable and threatens public
health and the environment. A cursory observation within the cities shows visible
aspects of the solid waste problem including accumulation of garbage, heavy street
litter, waste-clogged drains and water bodies and stinking gutters (Figure 1.1).

Figure 1.1: Aspects of the urban solid waste problem in Ghana

(a) Roadside waste accumulation in Accra        (b) A choked drain in Accra
Source: Photos taken during field work

In spite of the concerns frequently raised by concerned groups, institutions and
individuals among the populace, the solid waste situation in the cities continues to
worsen, thereby posing serious threats to public health and the environment. Besides,
the environmental burdens associated with the worsening solid waste situation
appears to fall more heavily on the poor even though waste removal and disposal are
public funded and regulated. This study was therefore undertaken in order to gain

understanding of the challenges and issues involved in solid waste management in
Ghanaian cities to pave the way towards finding a solution to the waste menace.

1.3. Purpose of the study
The purpose of this study was to examine the solid waste situation in Accra and
Sekondi-Takoradi, two of the large cities in Ghana, with the aim of enhancing
understandings of the problem and the key issues affecting urban solid waste disposal
in the country, and also to identify possible solutions to the problem. In other words,
this research was an attempt to answer the question ‘why are urban authorities in
Ghana unable to organise adequate and equitable waste management within their
jurisdictions?’ In line with this, the specific objectives that guided the study were:

   •   To describe the urban solid waste situation in Accra and Sekondi-Takoradi
   •   To identify the factors that militate against solid waste management efforts in
       the two cities
   •   To explore how the concerns for social and environmental justice are being
       addressed in the organisation of solid waste disposal in the study areas
   •   To identify ways to improve solid waste disposal in Ghanaian cities.

1.4. Justification for the study
The worsening solid waste disposal situation in Ghanaian cities has attracted attention
among the populace. High profile government officials including Ministers of State,
parliamentarians and even the presidency have expressed concern about the
deplorable solid waste situation in cities in the country. The solid waste problem is
also receiving a lot of media attention shown by the frequent featuring of waste
disposal issues in newspapers, TV and radio discussions. Additionally, several
Environmental     Non-Governmental       Organisations     (ENGOs),     institutions     and
individuals have expressed concerns about the deplorable solid waste situation in the
cities while communities keep complaining to the authorities about waste that is
engulfing their neighbourhoods and the health implications for their members. Even
political parties and their presidential candidates for the recent election in December
2008 made waste disposal an issue for their electioneering campaigns. Moreover, the
perpetuation of social and environmental injustice in the organisation of waste

management in Ghanaian cities seems to attract no attention in the country. It is,
therefore, obvious that the solid waste situation in Ghanaian cities requires research
attention to shed more light on the issue and pave the way for a solution.

In this regard, the media seems to be playing a pioneering role in drawing attention to
the poor waste disposal practices of Ghanaians and the worsening environmental
conditions that result from the practice. Academic research in the area include an MSc
thesis (Anomanyo, 2004) submitted to Lund University in 2004 which considered the
possibility of using ‘bioreactor treatment technology’ as an integral part of the waste
management process in the country; and an undergraduate long essay by Freduah
(2008), submitted to the University of Ghana, which examined the problems of solid
waste management in Nima, one of the slum communities in Accra. Apart from these,
there are a number of studies that have investigated issues related to the urban solid
waste problem in Ghana including Songsore et al.’s (2005) report on the “State of
Environmental Health in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area”; Aryee and Crook’s
(2003) article titled “Toilet Wars: Urban Sanitation Services and the Politics of
Public-Private Participation in Ghana”; Songsore and McGranahan’s (1996) work
on “Women and Household Environmental Care in the Greater Accra Metropolitan
Area”, and Benneh et al.’s (1993) study of “Environmental Problems and the Urban
Household in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area. Devas and Korboe’s (2000) study
of City Governance and Poverty in Kumasi (Ghana’s second largest city) also
included an analysis of public services available to the population including solid
waste disposal, water and sanitation. In 2001, the Department of Geography at Royal
Holloway, University of London and the Institute of Renewable Natural Resources
(IRNR) at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in
Kumasi, Ghana began a joint DFID-funded study of Peri-Urban Natural Resources
Management at the Watershed Level in Kumasi. In this on-going study, the pollution
of ground water and other natural resources by waste disposal and other human
activities are being investigated in the context of the Millennium Ecosystems

The above-mentioned studies have examined a wide range of environmental issues
including sanitation, water use and pollution, air pollution, the disease burdens
associated with poor environmental conditions and the effects of waste disposal and


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