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CNN – Ghana bags a handy new way to tackle plastic waste

June 1, 2010 Leave a comment

London, England (CNN) — In Ghana’s capital, Accra, the streets are choked with trash and littered with plastic waste that blocks gutters and clogs storm drains.

Drinking water comes in sachets that cost a few cents. Cheap and convenient, they are sold in shops and by street hawkers. But once they have been drunk they are often simply dropped on the ground.

When British entrepreneur Stuart Gold saw Accra’s plastic problem he recognized an opportunity for a business venture — an NGO that could clean up the streets and create jobs in the community.

His idea was to collect discarded sachets, clean them up and stitch them together to make brightly colored, fashionable bags.

Two-and-a-half years later, Trashy Bags makes around 250 items a week and produces 350 different designs of bags, wallets and raincoats.

And crucially, its network of collectors has gathered some 15 million plastic sachets that might otherwise be on the streets of Accra.

“One of the problems in Ghana is the amount of plastic littering the streets,” Gold told CNN. “There isn’t a proper way of collecting waste and people aren’t educated as to the problems of plastic waste.

“The pure-water sachet is ubiquitous. When anyone wants water they can’t drink tap water so they buy these sachets, even for their home.

“Once they’ve drunk the water they drop it in the street. You can see people drop them from their cars,” he said.

Gold said that while waste collection is slowly improving in Accra, recycling is still in its infancy and landfills are inadequate.

Plastic dumped in the streets ends up blocking drains, which Gold said can cause seasonal flooding. Other waste makes it into the sea, with unsightly tangles of plastic bags washing up on the beaches to the east of Accra, he said.

Trashy Bags encourages people to bring them empty sachets, paying about 20 cents for each kilogram of water sachets (about 100 sachets) they deliver. It pays more for ice cream, fruit drink and yogurt sachets, which are harder to come by.

The sachets are sorted, hand washed, disinfected and dried in the sun, before being flattened by hand and stitched into sheets.

The sheets are then cut according to templates and assembled as finished bags, wallets and even rain jackets.

It’s a labor-intensive process that means Trashy Bags products are more expensive than mass-produced items, according to Gold.

Prices range from $1 for a wallet to $26 for sports bags and Gold said most of his products are bought by expats and tourists, or exported to countries including Japan, Germany and Denmark.

But he added that Trashy Bag’s reusable shopping bag, which costs about $4.30, is proving a hit with Ghanaians.

And the labor-intensive manufacture does mean jobs for locals. Trashy Bags currently employs 60 Ghanaians in its workshops and around 100 others collect sachets for the company

“For lots of people collecting sachets is their whole livelihood,” said Gold.

“One woman makes more money than any of our actual workers. She organizes other women to collect and she pays them and she brings the sachets in.”

The result, said Gold, is that instead of discarding sachets, some people are keeping them and selling them on to collectors.

He acknowledged that Trashy Bags’ efforts are only a drop in the ocean of waste, and that despite his goal of turning the NGO into a self-sustaining venture it is struggling to break even.

But he said an important part of the project is education. Whereas a number of clothing companies around the world use materials made from recycled plastic, Trashy Bags are visibly made from the original plastic packaging.

“We don’t melt it down, so it’s very obvious it’s made from recycled plastic trash. So, the Ghanaians love them, and they do appreciate the solution because it’s very graphic,” said Gold.

There are similar projects to Trashy Bags in other countries. “Bazura Bags” in the Philippines makes bags from offcuts left over by packaging companies, India’s “Thunk in India,” makes all kinds of recycled products, including pencil cases made from fruit juice cartons, and “Terracycle” in the United States makes a range of items, including backpacks made from cookie wrappers.

It’s a sign that attitudes to waste are changing around the world. And in Ghana too. The government has acknowledged there is a problem with plastic waste and has even talked about banning plastic.

While a ban may be unrealistic, the fact it has been considered is a sign the environment is a growing concern in the country.

“People in West Africa don’t take the environment particularly seriously, but more and more in Ghana they do,” said Gold.

“They are gradually seeing there are problems other than just disease, and [polluting] the environment is one of them.”

Source – CNN, June 1, 2010

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Ghana – Impact of insecticide-treated nets in urban Ghana

May 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2010 Apr 23.

Cohort trial reveals community impact of insecticide-treated nets on malariometric indices in urban Ghana.

Klinkenberg E, Onwona-Agyeman KA, McCall PJ, Wilson MD, Bates I, Verhoeff FH, Barnish G, Donnelly MJ.

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Pembroke Place, Liverpool L3 5QA, UK; International Water Management Institute, PMB CT 112, Cantonments, Accra, Ghana.

The efficacy of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) in prevention of malaria and anaemia has been shown in rural settings, but their impact in urban settings is unknown. We carried out an ITN intervention in two communities in urban Accra, Ghana, where local malaria transmission is known to occur.

There was evidence for a mass or community effect, despite ITN use by fewer than 35% of households. Children living within 300 m of a household with an ITN had higher haemoglobin concentrations (0.5g/dl higher, P=0.011) and less anaemia (odds ratio 2.21, 95% CI 1.08-4.52, P=0.031 at month 6), than children living more than 300 m away from a household with an ITN, although malaria parasitaemias were similar.

With urban populations growing rapidly across Africa, this study shows that ITNs will be an effective tool to assist African countries to achieve their Millennium Development Goals in urban settings. [Registered trial number ISRCTN42261314; http://www.controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN42261314%5D.

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USAID WASH-UP Project in Ghana

January 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Jan 15, 2009 – Ghana – Water Agency Rescues Slum Dwellers

Water supply and sanitation services remain inadequate in slum settlements, according to the Corporative Housing Foundation (CHF) International, an aid agency. The agency has therefore initiated a three-year program called the Water Access, Sanitation and Hygiene for Urban Poor (WASH -UP) Project.  It began on October 1, 2009 and is expected to end on September 30, 2012. According to Francis Ampadu, Water and Sanitation Specialist of CHF International, the WASH-UP program will increase household access to improved and sustainable drinking water supply, as well as, sanitation facilities.

The program, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is being executed under the African Urban Poor-Improved Water Supply and Sanitation Project. It is targeted at 156,000 people within communities including Nima, Avenor and Ayidiki in Accra, and New Takoradi and Kojokrom in Sekondi Takoradi.

These came to light at a three-day workshop organized for the Avenor, Nima and Ayidiki in Accra from Monday to Wednesday. It was under the theme – Upgrading Lives of Slums Dwellers through Improvements in Water and Sanitation. 

It is estimated that about 5.5million people in Ghana, representing more than half of the urban population live in slum settlement. The informal nature of these settlements hamper water supply to a large extent. The areas also have been identified to have limited access to toilets.  As a result, households in these areas spend significant amounts of time and money to access unhygienic toilets facilities and obtain water at inflated prices.

WASH-UP is therefore aimed at assisting slum communities to improve on their current water and sanitation situation. It seeks to provide equitable access to improved water supply and basic sanitation for residents living in Nima, Avenor and Ayidiki New Takoradi and Kojokrom. WASH-UP is also geared at improving infrastructure and governance and changing behaviours.

Mr Ampadu indicated that the WASH-UP will promote innovative economic enterprises in the areas of water and sanitation; improve hygiene and sanitation behaviours among the urban poor; and strengthen local governance for water supply, sanitation and hygiene services. 

The District Cleansing Officer of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Charles Sintim, told Public Agenda that the AMA was working assiduolosly to get rid of the use of pan latrines in every community by the end of the first quarter of this year.

According to him, the Assembly was ready to prosecute all individuals and households using pan latrines at the end of the quarter. He commended CHF for the project and pledged that the AMA would support the chosen communities with requisite technical know-how and tools to work with to help free the environment from filth.

Source – Public Agenda (Accra)

Categories: Ghana Tags: ,

Ghana: Accra Urban Profile 2009

October 7, 2009 Leave a comment

United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). 2009. Ghana: Accra Urban Profile. (pdf, 2.6MB) Nairobi, HABITAT.

The urban profiling is a rapid and action-oriented urban assessment of needs and capacity-building gaps at national and local levels. It is currently being implemented in over 20 countries in Africa and the Arab states. The urban profiling uses a structured approach where priority interventions are agreed upon through consultative processes.The urban profiling methodology consists of three phases: (1) a rapid participatory urban profiling at national and local levels, focusing on governance, informal settlements, gender and HIV/AIDS, environment, and proposed interventions; (2) detailed priority proposals; and (3) project implementation. The urban profiling in Ghana encompasses profiles of Accra, Tamale, and Ho, each published as a separate report.

This report constitutes a general background, a synthesis of the four themes: governance, informal settlements, gender and HIV/AIDS, and environment – and priority project proposals.

Table of Contents
Executive summary 6
background 8
GOVERNANCE 13
slums 15
GENDER AND HIV/AIDS 17
ENVIRONMENT 20
PROJECT PROPOSALS Governance 23
Slums 25
Gender and hiv/aids 27
urban Environment

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WEDC Conference 2008 – Selected papers on urban water/sanitation

July 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Indoor air quality impacts of an improved wood stove in Ghana and an ethanol stove in Ethiopia

June 30, 2009 Leave a comment

David Pennise, Simone Brant, Seth Mahu Agbeve, Wilhemina Quaye, Firehiwot Mengesha, Wubshet Tadele, Todd Wofchuck,

Indoor air quality impacts of an improved wood stove in Ghana and an ethanol stove in Ethiopia, IN: Energy for Sustainable Development, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 24 May 2009, ISSN 0973-0826, DOI: 10.1016/j.esd.2009.04.003.

This study was undertaken to assess the potential of two types of improved cookstoves to reduce indoor air pollution in African homes. An ethanol stove, the CleanCook, was tested in three locations in Ethiopia: the city of Addis Ababa and the Bonga and Kebribeyah Refugee Camps, while a wood-burning rocket stove, the Gyapa, was evaluated in Accra, Ghana.

In both countries, kitchen concentrations of PM2.5 and CO, the two pollutants responsible for the bulk of the ill-health associated with indoor smoke, were monitored in a before and after study design without controls. Baseline (`before’) measurements were made in households using a traditional stove or open fire. `After’ measurements were performed in the same households, once the improved stove had been introduced. PM2.5 was measured using UCB Particle Monitors, which have photoelectric detectors. CO was measured with Onset HOBO Loggers. In Ghana and Kebribeyah Camp, CO was also measured with Gastec diffusion tubes.

In Ghana, average 24-hour PM2.5 concentrations decreased 52% from 650 [mu]g/m3 in the ‘before’ phase to 320 [mu]g/m3 in the ‘after’ phase (p = 0.00), and average 24-hour kitchen CO concentrations decreased 40% from 12.3 ppm to 7.4 ppm (p = 0.01). Including all three subgroups in Ethiopia, average PM2.5 concentrations decreased 84% from 1 250 [mu]g/m3 to 200 [mu]g/m3 (p = 0.00) and average CO concentrations decreased 76% from 38.9 ppm to 9.2 ppm (p = 0.00). 24-hour average CO levels in households using both the Gyapa and CleanCook stoves met, or nearly met, the World Health Organization (WHO) 8-hour Air Quality Guideline. PM2.5 concentrations were well above both the WHO 24-hour Guideline and Interim Targets.

Therefore, despite the significant improvements associated with both of these stoves, further changes in stove or fuel type or household fuel mixing patterns would be required to bring PM to levels that are not considered harmful to health.

Ghana’s waste challenges: Veep hints at plastic ban

March 12, 2009 Leave a comment

ghanaVice President John Dramani Mahama has indicated that a ban on the use of non-degradable plastics could be on the cards for consideration as part of measures to stem Ghana’s increasing waste management difficulties.

In brief remarks to the first ever National Environmental Sanitation Forum underway at the Accra International Conference Centre, John Mahama said the nation is drowning in plastics and it is high time a decision is taken on what to do with the menace.

The forum under the theme, ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’ is part of the Government of Ghana’s Hundred Days’ Sanitation and Ghana Going Green Agenda, and will rise this afternoon with a communiqué and a blueprint on dealing with the sanitation challenges across the country.

The Vice President told the forum that banning plastics in the country may not be the best option and expressed the hope that the situation does not come to that, but he stressed that if the country failed to come out with an effective programme to deal with the danger, then the safety of the populace would have to take precedence and a ban imposed on the use of plastic bags

More – Ghana News

Categories: Ghana