The critical environmental and sustainability issues of Ghana:
- Water Quality
While some African countries suffer from a lack of water, Ghana suffers from too much polluted water. One of the leading diseases affecting the people of Ghana is cholera. It spreads primarily through the use of faulty toilets and plumbing. A flash flood further exacerbated the situation in 2014 when copious amounts of polluted water mixed with water supplies, affecting 30,000 people. 73% of the population, or about 23 million people, use water that may not follow sanitary standards. This would mean that only 3.9 million people in Ghana can access water that is safe. Everyone else has to sift through contaminated water.
- Waste Management
While waste management is a nationwide issue in Ghana, it’s most obvious in Accra, a fast-growing city of four million that generates about 3,000 metric tonnes of waste a day. In 2012, the World Bank estimated that poor sanitation was costing Ghana’s economy around 420 million Ghana cedis ($290 million) each year, equivalent to 1.6% of its GDP. The study found most of these costs come from the annual premature death of 19,000 Ghanaians, largely due to poor sanitation and hygiene.
It is estimated that over 90 percent of Ghana’s high forest have been logged since the late 1940s. The rate of deforestation is 5 percent in off-reserves and 2 percent in on-reserves. The off-reserves have been seriously degraded and fragmented to less than 5 percent of the forested area of 83,489 sq. km. The current deforestation rate is about 22,000 hectares (ha) per annum. Ghana, therefore, may face future export deficits and there is the likelihood that the country’s forestry sector will die out.
- Poverty and Inequality
The poverty rate in urban areas at 10.6 % is nothing compared to 37.9 % in rural areas. Almost 4 million children continue to live below the poverty line. By 2006, the richest 20 % of the country held more than half of the country’s income. A Ghanaian child is about 40 % more likely to be impoverished than a Ghanaian adult, a staggering 15 % rise from the 1990s.
The substantial inequality gap between the richest 10 percent in the country versus the poorest 10 percent continues to grow. The wealthiest make up about one-third of national consumption and the poorest consume only 1.7 percent. By 2006, the richest 20 percent of the country held more than half of the country’s income. In studies between 2013 and 2016, economic growth for the richest percentile was more than 1.4 times greater than the poorest.
Mining accounts for about 9.1% of Ghana’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs almost 300,000 people. Notwithstanding the role played by mining to the socioeconomic development of Ghana, the adverse impacts of mining activities are increasing.
Mercury affects the renal system, nervous system, gastrointestinal tract and respiratory system, 5 tons of mercury is released from small-scale mining operations in Ghana each year. Diseases due to mining; Malaria (42%), Respiratory diseases (27%), Skin diseases (17.7%) in Ghana.
Mining also affects freshwater through the heavy use of water in processing ore, and through water pollution from discharged mining waste and seepage from tailings and waste rock impoundments. Studies have shown that water resources in the Obuasi Municipality have been greatly compromised. Most streams, rivers and other water bodies are either polluted with chemicals or dried up. According to the Obuasi municipal development report, all the major streams and rivers (Kwabrafo, Pompo, Nyam, Jimi, Akapori, Wheaseammo and Kunka) have been polluted by mining and other human activities.