Friday, January 13, 2012

Environmental Health Officer calls for incentives for sanitation workers

Mr. Adu Nkumsah delivering his lecture on sanitation to the gathering at Suhum

The Environmental Health Officer in charge of the Eastern Region of Ghana, Mr. Adu Nkumsah, has called on government and other major stakeholders in the environmental sanitation industry to consider instituting special award schemes for sanitation workers.
This he says will boost their morale, make the industry attractive to all manner of people as well as help surmount the problem of stigmatisation of sanitary workers, while enhancing the nation’s chances of achieving its environmental sanitation goals.
Mr. Nkumsah was speaking at an environmental sanitation durbar organised by Zoomlion Ghana Limited at Suhum in the Eastern Region last Wednesday, as part of a series of community-based environmental sanitation durbars rolled out by Zoomlion in its effort to bring sanitation education to the grassroots.
The key objective of the programme is to reach many more Ghanaians with the message of good sanitation and bring about radical and visible change in sanitary behaviour of the people and the Ghanaian society in general.
In his address, Mr. Nkumsah called for the strict enforcement of sanitation by-laws without fear or favour. “When people commit environmental sanitation offenses, the law must be allowed to take its due course irrespective of the person’s socio-political affiliations and economic status. In such a manner, every Ghanaian, whoever he or she may be, will learn to respect the environment”, Mr. Nkumsah said.
For his part, the Omanhene of the Suhum Traditional Area, Osabarima Ayekofi II, thanked Zoomlion for the good work it is doing in the area and urged the company to continue the fight until Ghana attains acceptable levels of environmental cleanliness. The Omanhene further commended the company for also educating the people on sound environmental practices.
Speaking on behalf of the Zoomlion team from Accra, Mr. Solomon Agyemang Duah, Communications Officer, was full of praise for the Chief and his subjects for their cooperation, support and warm reception that made the programme a huge success. Mr. Agyemang Duah called on the gathering to assist in the propagation of the message of good sanitation in their respective homes and neighbourhoods so that Ghanaian communities will be clean and healthy to live in.
Meanwhile, at a similar programme held at the Sekondi Zongo in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis, officials of Zoomlion Ghana Limited interacted with community leaders and residents to find lasting solutions to teething sanitation problems being faced by the community. The programme also afforded people of Sekondi Zongo, the opportunity to express not only their appreciation but also worries and concerns about the company’s operations in the community.
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Edward Keteku, deputy Western Regional Manager of Zoomlion, reiterated the company’s commitment to ensure that all communities in the region benefit from the clean Ghana agenda which the company embarked on since its inception in 2006.
He also assured the community that his office will do well to address all the concerns expressed by people in the shortest possible time.
Adding his voice, the Public Relations Officer of Zoomlion, Mr. Oscar Provencal, entreated the community leadership not to hesitate to bring to the notice of company officials any untoward developments in the operations and conduct of Zoomlion workers in the area. “In such manner, we can foster good relationships between the service provider and the beneficiary for greater results”, he explained.
The Second Deputy Chief Imam of Sekondi, Malam Zulkifli, who represented the Chief Imam, was full of praise for Zoomlion’s hard work and provision of employment for the youth. Adding his voice to the call for a harmonious relationship between sanitation workers and the general public, he said, “Let us learn to respect and appreciate the hard work our brothers and sisters in the sanitation industry are doing so that they can feel motivated to work even harder.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dumase, Twigyaa communities facing extinction from water stress

Dumase's Demonstrating Women

One of the easiest and fastest ways to cut short the life of any living creature or being, is to deny it of water – potable water.
Apart from being the magical fluid that keeps humans of all races alive and indeed makes up 55 to 60% of the human body, 70% of the brain, as well as the skin, 82% of blood, and nearly 90% of the lungs, water has so many uses, without which life itself would become impossible.
But this is the dire straits two Ghanaian communities find themselves in, because six rivers they have depended on over time, have either been polluted or destroyed through mining activities.
The two communities located in the Western Region of Ghana, Dumase and Twigyaa near Bogoso, made up of over 5,000 people, now face severe water crisis, which they say, is because of the operations of a mining company – Golden Star Resources (GRS), which has led to the pollution and or destruction of rivers in the communities.
According to the indigenes and indeed incontrovertible information available, before the commencement of surface mining operations in the area, the Dumase community had six rivers, namely; Aprepre, Wurawura, Akyesua, Benya, Pram and Nana Nyabuo but mining operations have polluted and destroyed them all.
For instance on October 24, 2004 and June 17, 2006, the operations of GRS polluted River Aprepre through two cyanide spillages.
That notwithstanding, water from boreholes constructed by the company for the Dumase community turns purplish-blue immediately it comes into contact with plantain and cassava, suggesting the presence of heavy metals, thereby rendering it unwholesome and unusable by the community.
Unsustainable water supply:
To resolve the water crisis, the company has resorted to supplying water in tankers  to Dumase and other communities like Twigyaa and Brakwaline that are faced with similar water problems resulting from their operations.
However, that step has hit a snag, with the communities reeling under the inconsistent, unsustainable and unreliable nature of the supply of water.
According to the people of Dumase and Twigyaa, the company sometimes denies them access to potable water for days when the tanker that supplies water fails to supply water.
The major concern of the communities, nonetheless, is that the water supply system by the company would cease after the mine closes and that would lead to the death of their communities.
It is not surprising therefore, that the water crisis has become a constant source of conflict between the communities and the Golden Star Resources company.
Consequently, after going without water for four days, the communities could not take it anymore and on December 12, 2011, about 200 women in Dumase led by the Assemblywoman for Dumase, Honourable Joana Manu, embarked on a three-hour peaceful demonstration against Golden Star Resources, to protest against the unreliability of the alternative water supply system.
The Dumase community women also presented a petition signed on their behalf by Madam Mary Kisi, Women’s Leader in the community, to the management of Golden Star Resources.
The women in Dumase stated in the petition, the unreliability and unsustenability of the alternative water supply system provided by the company and requested Golden Star Resources to develop a sustainable and reliable potable water system for the Dumase community by February 2012.
Wacam’s reaction:
In its reaction to the plight of Dumase, Twigyaa and other communities, Wacam, a non-governmental organisation that assists communities affected by mining, said it supports the genuine struggle of the Dumase and Twigyaa people for the provision of sustainable and reliable potable water supply system to the people by Golden Star Resources.
“This support stems from the fact that a research by the Centre for Environmental Impact Assessment (CEIA) on the risk and health impacts of exposure to polluted rivers in the Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipality indicated that all the six rivers in the Dumase and Twigyaa communities and the boreholes that the company provides are polluted heavily with heavy metals.
“When the Dumase and Twigyaa communities do not have access to potable water, they would be compelled to use the polluted rivers and thus ingest the heavy metals. This would have serious health implications,” Wacam stressed in a statement issued January 4, 2012.
Signed by Mr. Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, Executive Director, the statement said Wacam is deeply worried about the water crisis of the Dumase and Twigyaa people, which would worsen when the company ends its mining operations.
“The mining communities in Kenyase, Obuasi, Tarkwa and Prestea areas are facing similar serious water stress due to mining activities and this requires urgent actions by the regulatory agencies such as Environmental Protection Agency and the Water Resources Commission in protecting the country’s water resources. Mining activities are contributing to the destruction of the country’s freshwater resources at a very fast rate because of the increasing high gold price,” he stated further.
Wacam has thus called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to act with urgency in putting pressure on Golden Star Resources to provide sustainable and reliable potable water system to Dumase and Twigyaa communities.
Response from Golden Star Resources:
Responding to the agitation and concerns of the mining communities in a telephone interview with January 9, 2012, Mrs. Ellen Kwami, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of GSR, disclosed that in early December 2011, there was a problem with the pumps, hence the inability of the company to supply water to the communities of Dumase and Twigyaa for a period.
“Two of the pumps got burnt simultaneously, so there was some interruption with the supply and that led to some agitation which has since been resolved,” she said.
Stating that it hadn’t come to her knowledge that there was still a problem with water supply to the communities, Mrs. Kwami intimated that the company has a consultative committee that works on such issues and it has not brought any existing problem to their notice.
Touching on the sustainability of the water supplied to the communities through the tanker services, she said “If they say it is not regular, that is not correct. I know that we are all looking at the possibility of getting a permanent solution, but that has not been determined yet.”
“But as I said, this is something that all the members of the consultative committee are aware of; we have a consultative committee for Twigyaa and for Dumase we have the resettlement committee – all these issues are discussed there,” the PRO said further.
Commenting on the unsuccessful sinking of some boreholes for the community, she stated that boreholes in mining areas are determined by the nature of the soil. “Sometimes it can be difficult. Sometimes the iron content is so high. So that’s why I am saying that all this is under discussion,” Mrs. Kwami added, assuring that neither side has relented in its efforts to find a permanent solution to the water problem in the communities.
However, in her response to the assertion by the mining communities that their operations were responsible for the pollution and destruction of their rivers and water bodies, the GRS PRO  stated;“If you put the shortage of water at the doorstep of one company, that is a bit difficult to swallow.”

GJA 2010 Award Winners

GJA 2010 Award Winners
Dzifa, Emelia and Gertrude

GJA 2011 Award Winners

GJA 2011 Award Winners
GWJN's 2011 GJA Award-Winning Team

New WASH-JN Executives

New WASH-JN Executives
They are from left - Edmund, Ghana, Aminata: Guinea, Alain: Benin, Paule: Senegal and Ousman: Niger

Celebrating Award

Celebrating Award
The benefits of Award Winning!

Hard Work Pays!

Hard Work Pays!
In a pose with my plaque