Last Friday marked a very important day in the history of the country, and, for that matter, Accra, because it was the day on which a blot on the conscience of Ghana was removed.
The blot was the discharge of untreated human waste into the Atlantic Ocean at Korle Gonno in Accra which had gone on for several years because Accra lacked a waste disposal and treatment plant.
The emergence of ‘Lavender Hill’, which stood for the nauseating smell from the beach where the unsightly activity took place, exposed the country to international ridicule.
Nobody could understand why, in the 21st century, a practice as crude as pouring faecal waste from cesspit tanks into the sea could be encouraged under whatever circumstance.
So at all international fora where Ghana was sometimes present, it was always listed as one of the countries where sanitation practices left much to be desired.
‘Lavender Hill’ may be gone now, with the coming on stream of the Mudor waste and faecal treatment plant, and we applaud all those who made that possible.
It has been long in coming — it took us over a century (110 years) to move from ‘Lavender Hill’ to Mudor, although the two places are just a few metres apart.
Although there has finally been a move from the crude and primitive way of liquid waste disposal, with the possibility of replication across the country, we remind all that our sanitation woes are not over.
There is still open defecation, with 19 out of every 100 people engaged in the despicable practice. Ghana has scored negatively globally for having a fifth of its population engage in the shameful act of open defecation. On the sanitation ladder, we are second from the bottom and earned the unenviable title of being the seventh dirtiest country in the world.
The Daily Graphic believes that the country’s sanitation headache would be worse had it not been for the collaborative work between the various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) and the waste management companies.
The sanitation problem is largely due to our poor attitude towards the environment and basic sanitation and hygiene practices. Therefore, behavioural change will play a key role to reverse the negative tag.
We, therefore, urge every Ghanaian to change his or her poor sanitation and hygiene habits for the better — littering with careless abandon, the neglect of our environment and the construction of houses without toilets must all stop, else we will not reap the gains from the waste plants.
The Daily Graphic also urges the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, especially its Environmental Health and Sanitation Department, to be up and doing to take us back to the era when the environmental health officer was both feared and revered, a situation which translated to best environmental practices.