31 Faecal treatment plants inoperable

BY: Edmund Smith-Asante
Prof. Rose Emma Mamaa Entsua-Mensah
Prof. Rose Emma Mamaa Entsua-Mensah

Out of the 35 institutional faecal treatment plants in the country, only four are currently operational.

“This implies that only one per cent of the sewage generated in Ghana is treated,” the Deputy Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Professor Rose Emma Entsua-Mensah, has said.

At a three-day Sustainable African Cities conference in Accra yesterday on the topic: “Sustainable Urban Ecological Management in Accra, Ghana: A Mirage or Reality?”, she said almost 97 per cent of all publicly owned and managed sewerage faecal plants were not functional, while 23 per cent of households in the country practised open defecation.

“In terms of basic sanitation, it is reported that 54 per cent of households use shared facilities which are generally unhygienic and 13 per cent have access to unimproved toilets.

“The result of this situation has been the intense increase in diarrhoeal diseases due to contaminated water and problems with food hygiene infections,” she stated.

Sanitation, flooding

Quoting the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Prof. Entsua-Mensah said sanitation issues also contributed to floods through the extension of tertiary and secondary drainage system as a result of urbanisation.

“The poor maintenance of existing drainage systems, the challenges of poor sanitation and siltation, planning deficiencies as well as the poor enforcement of building regulations and bye-laws are also contributory factors,” she stated.

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The CSIR deputy director-general also attributed the annual flooding of the city of Accra to too many paved areas which prevented water from seeping into the soil, while scarce and expensive spaces had forced people to build in vulnerable areas, leading to further loss of space for interventions.

Stakeholder engagement

For his part, a professor of Botany at the Department of Plant and Environmental Biology, University of Ghana, Prof. Alfred A. Oteng-Yeboah, said “Accra will be ready when opportunities exist for cross fertilisation of knowledge to optimise the use of technology and support coherence for the 2030 Global Agenda and the 2063 Africa We Want Agenda.”

He recommended that stakeholders should be properly engaged to properly understand the concept of a sustainable city or eco-city in order to effect a change in attitudes and behaviour.

“Many citizens are not aware that these come from actions that they engage in which cause the effects that are being witnessed now. Many are not aware that these can be addressed with their cooperation,” he said.