Even though the proverb which has become so cliche due to its constant usage is not in the bible like most people think, it has become so relatable to the bible that people do not seem to know.
The proverb “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” implies that the one who is clean is the one who is nearest to God.
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Here, cleanliness refers to a clean and neat physical state; though, some may contest that it also refers to being in a clean mental state.
There is one thing that the phrase very clearly refers to –one can only get spiritually connected with God if one seeks the same in a neat and clean state
For a country that is so conscious about the ways of God and how the intervention of God will help change the fortunes of the country, most Ghanaians are not putting in much effort to ensure sanitation in the country.
It is sad to know that even with all the high hopes President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has of making Accra the cleanest city in Africa, it looks like an unachievable feat.
In a World Bank report filed in 2012, it was stated that Ghana’s economy loses 420 million Ghana cedis each year (US$290 million, 1.6 percent of GDP) due to the poor sanitation.
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 surprising to know that, in a report filed by Ghanaweb.com in 2017, the Director of Waste Management at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Anthony Mensah, disclosed that the city of Accra generates 3,000 metric tonnes of waste daily.
It is worthy to note that these waste are mostly domestic waste created from the homes just and also a fair percentage of the waste from the streets as well.
Even though the AMA has systems in place for waste management, like the door-to-door collection service for households and communal collection system offering a central point for refuse collection in certain communities, the battle against filth and proper sanitation has to be properly looked at, as to what causes it and how well it can be managed.
Improving sanitation in Accra: A collective effort by allilth.
According to him, logistics have been put in place in every assembly to help tackle the issue of filth.
He added that legislations are also in place to punish offenders who litter and dispose rubbish indiscriminately.
Causes of filth
The causes of the poor sanitary conditions in the country, especially in Accra, leaves a lot to be worried about. The cause of filth ranges from human activities to excessive plastic usage as well as improper disposal of waste.
The lockdown announced by President Akufo-Addo during the period when the COVID-19 was rife saw the streets of Accra looking very clean.
The clean streets was evident that human activities played a great role in the amount of filth that is seen on the streets.
The human activities here mainly includes the impunity with which people litter without any sense of responsibility.
This has always been an issue even though government and the AMA have provided litter bins across the city.
The excessive usage of plastic bags and bottles by most Ghanaians is also a contributing factor to the quantum of waste being generated in the city.
Most of these plastics someway somehow, find their way into the gutters causing them to choke the drains an leaving the streets filled with filth anytime it rains.
Improper disposal of waste
A common complaint that most people make is that when people clean out the gutters, waste will sit in a pile nearby and eventually find its way back.
Piles of rubbish sit on street corners, picked on by birds. After a storm, plastic bottles washed out with the rain return to line the beaches.
It is such an eyesore to see how beaches are littered with plastics waste after the tides wash them ashore.
Also one thing that is very typical of Ghanaians is how they take delight in disposing off domestic waste in the gutters anytime it rains. This has been an age long practice by most women. Fortunately for those who practice it, it saves them money but unfortunately it chokes the drains after sometime and leaves their homes flooded anytime it rains.
The activities of traders in the markets is also another contributing factor of the amount of waste generated. Most of the waste generated by the market women is degradable and if managed properly would not cause a problem. But unfortunately, these degradable materials are left to mix up with the degradable ones making it difficult to manage.
Suggestions on how to tackle sanitation challenges
In a bid to solve the issue of filth and sanitation in the county, it is a collective effort by the government of Ghana and citizens to tackle the issue of filth to the core. These suggestions would go a long way to tackle the issue of sanitation.
The government through the AMA, has a system in place for waste management where designated trucks visit houses from door-to-door to collect domestic waste.
Also, there is a communal collection system offering a central point for refuse collection in certain communities, at a fee.
If these waste management interventions by the government operate effectively, in no time the issue of filth and improper sanitary practices will be a thing of the past.
Sense of responsibility
Aside the Zoomlion workers cleaning the streets of Accra, individuals should adopt a more responsible attitude of proper waste disposal.
With a great sense of responsibility, individuals would know when not to litter and where exactly to drop their rubbish if they make them.
Also it is imperative that individuals learn the art of waste segregation.
This way, degradable waste materials and non-degradable waste a separated from each other.
This would go along way to reduce the quantum of waste generated in the homes.
Even though along the line government instituted a system to rid the city of filth by organising a nationwide cleaning on the first Saturdays in every month, the initiative which started off on a good not has clearly died down.
It would be a good idea if members in a particular community come together as a group and decide to clean their streets, desilt choked drains and gutters to make it more safer for living.
This sense of communal work will go a long way to help the country achieve the target of fighting filth and bracing sanitation.
Communal work for offenders
Perpetrators of crimes related to filth should not just be named and shamed but should be also made to undergo community service like is being done in other countries under the watch of the media to deter other people from engaging in such an activity.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
It is obvious that most institutions do Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in way to give back to the society where they find themselves.
Most of these CSR programmes or projects are not tailored towards sanitation but rather donations and other interventions like health.
I believe there should be some sort of legislation tasking all corporate bodies to at least undertake sanitation related CSRs in their communities on a quarterly basis.
This goes a long way to teach the people ion the community that even the corporate bodies are concerned about the sanitation and they would definitely learn from it.
In conclusion, even though our mere existence cannot do without waste generation and waste management, a conscious effort by individuals backed by strict legislation by government and various interventions, the issue of sanitation would be tackled.
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