Sanitation has become a major challenge confronting our nation Ghana. It is time “we brighten the corner where we are”.
Gone are the days when information vans moved around communities and cities educating the people on their civic rights and responsibilities.
Officers from the Town Council popularly known then as ‘Tankasi’ moved around houses and communities to check on the neatness of surroundings.
Any landlord found wanting was summoned, ‘sama’ by the sanitation courts and fined. How and why did we stop this practice?
1978 Year Group
The 1978 Year Group of St Monica’s Secondary School, Mampong Ashanti, chose sanitation as its main project in celebrating 40 years after completion of their ‘Ordinary Level’ education.
In a year-long 40th anniversary celebration which culminated in a speech and prize-giving day recently, the group, supported by sponsors, planted 40 saplings of the ‘tree of life’, to symbolically mark its 40 years and make the compound very eco-friendly.
On two occasions, the year group brought in professionals to sensitise the entire school community, including staff and students to waste management.
They also organised a sanitation week in the school to educate the community on how to practicalise waste management, refurbished 68 broken down water closets in all the seven houses and constructed a new septic tank.
In addition, they provided bins to be placed at vantage points in the school to encourage waste segregation, demolished inappropriate structures which did not promote sanitation and cleared an open dumpsite which had been used by the school for over 30 years.
Furthermore, the year group built a compost shed with immense support by the Chief of Staff at the Jubilee House, Mrs Akosua Frema Osei Opare, who is also a past student of the school.
To crown their efforts, the 1978 year group sponsored the school’s 72nd speech and prize-giving day.
The 1978 Year Group consulted African Environment Sanitation Consult (AfESConsult) on the best way forward.
Through the consultation process, Mr Israel Boakye Acheampong, Engineering Design and Project consultant at AfESConsult, advised an open windrow composting system with a low tech operational technology.
According to him, the technology is good for populations of about 3,000 persons and can handle waste of about one to three tonnes a day which is applicable to St Monica’s Senior High School and any Senior High School if they desire to go into composting.
The compost facility has a concrete floor with roofing supported by metal poles.
The floor is designed with a leachate collection system from PVC pipes.
The roofing is also designed to collect rainwater for use in the operations.
Simple tools such as shovels, pick axes and watering cans are used for the process.
The compost process takes approximately 12 weeks to complete a cycle. This consists of six weeks of active composting and another six weeks of maturation.
The first step of the process is to sort out the incoming waste.
Composting involves the breakdown of the organic component of the incoming waste.
The incoming waste will be sorted at source but due to inconsistencies in separation efficiency, further sorting will be done to remove contaminants.
Very simple equipment such as rakes and shovels will be used.
For optimum composting, technical parameters such as moisture, temperature, Carbon/Nitrogen ratio will have to be assessed.
These can be easily operated by the students with training and also serve as practicals for some theories in science.
After on-site sorting, the compost will be piled into heaps. The number of heaps will depend on the daily input.
At least up to two heaps will be constructed every two to three days. The heaps are to stay on the composting area for about 60 days (three months) after which they will be moved into the maturation stage for another month.
In windrow composting process, there is breakdown of the biodegradable material by several types of micro-organisms which populate the heap over time. The process ends when the activity of these organisms cease.
Processing parameters include a temperature of at least 55-65°C for all sections of the heap for at least seven days. With this it can be said that the material is sanitised and all disease-causing organisms are actually inactivated.
After that, the compost is left to mature to enable it to break down further for use as a soil amendment product.
Oxygen is also a needed parameter for optimised processing. These are achieved through turning of the compost pile during the composting phase.
The activity of the micro-organisms is highest at the beginning and declines over time. The moisture content of the pile during this stage ranges between 40-60 per cent.
The project is primarily to sensitise the students to good environmental management and to build in them a practical culture that can be extended to their own communities.
It was also to promote sustainable source separation on campus and demonstrate its applicability, and to recover reusable materials from the waste stream for use as secondary material through reuse and recycling.
Another benefit of the project is that it will promote a clean and healthy environment on campus which stimulates academic work and also ensure food security and reduce the use of inorganic fertilisers in vegetable growth.
Aside from these, it will serve as a practical example to explain some theories relating to science, agriculture, business management and research.
In an interview, Mr Emmanuel Buasilenu - the head of the Science Department of the school, who doubles as an Agricultural Science teacher and the newly rewarded 2017/2018 Best Teacher of the school - said plastics were separated and sold to recycling companies and the compost would be used for citrus and oil palm plantations to supplement feeding for the students and the excess sold to the general public.
The compost shed was inaugurated by Mrs Osei Opare, in the company of the Ashanti Regional Minister; Mr Simon Osei Mensah, the Primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa; the Archbishop of the Internal Province of Ghana and the Bishop of Kumasi, the Most Reverend Dr Daniel Yinkah Sarfo; the Diocesan Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Asante-Mampong, the Rt Rev. Dr Cyril Ben-Smith; Nana Obugyei, Krontihene of Ejura, and his elders representing the Mamponghene, past students, management, staff and students of the school.