Even Our Energy Poverty Does Not Make Ghana’s Coal Discussion Easier

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An earlier article discussed how a proposed coal-fired generation plays into the policy direction of the Government of Ghana (or what we thought was the policy direction). Basically, we sought to understand if the actions of the government were in tandem with the directions they had told us they were committing to.

A few weeks later, the Government of Ghana published the Ghana Climate Change Policy and the Ghana Environment Policy both of which seem to support directives enumerated in the Ghana Energy Policy. Basically, the government wants to protect the environment and in situations where environmentally-friendly options were available, there will be no second guessing.

In the absence of information suggesting otherwise, it is safe to assume that a coal power plant will be built in Ghana. Progress, much to the excitement of those decrying the state of the power situation, is being made to construct and operate this plant. Opening up a discussion on the project is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about climate change and to help Ghanaians be honest about their respective and collective roles. It is only when we understand our personal responsibilities that we can begin to truly appreciate the weight of collective responsibility we must bear as a society if we are to leave a better earth for posterity.

We must begin to appreciate the role we play in the climate-related increase in flooding, drought and other natural disasters. Look out for more about personal responsibility in future posts.

For now, let us return to the issue of the disconnection between policy and actions on the ground.

Recent pronouncements by the World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim, has supported earlier claims by others including the global investment banking powerhouse, Goldman Sachs, that to solve energy poverty and for sustainable economic growth, Sub-Saharan Africa has no choice but to consider coal. In other words, the “best” way to increase access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa is to build coal-fired plants.

Yes, it is a well-known fact that climate change is not the only risk facing Africa. Even though the risk of climate change is not well understood by the ordinary African, the risk of hunger, power outages among others are quiet self-evident. The power situation in Ghana is of great concern. However, the role of the environment in providing for and protecting human lives is of utmost importance.

Even more importantly, Ghana is in in a unique position – made possible by past efforts – to solve the energy situation without adding too much to the country’s carbon footprint. This unique position can allow Ghana to do something wonderful, something amazing, something Green! Here are the reasons why:

1. Ghana has natural gas. Over 5 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves. The rate at which power plants consume fuel (gas, etc) depends on several factors including the efficiency of the plant. However, on average, a gas-fired power plant will consume 0.00786 million cubic feet of natural gas to generate a kilowatt-hour of electricity. This means that even if Ghana increases its gas-powered generating capacity to 3,000MW, it will take more than 20 years to consume all of Ghana’s reserves. Ghana currently has a total installed capacity of 2846.5MW of which 1,042MW is capable of being powered with natural gas.

2.Ghana has invested $1 billion of BORROWED MONEY in setting up a gas company – Ghana Gas. This gas processing facility has the capacity to generate about 140 million cubic feet of natural gas a day. That is enough gas to power a 700MW plant reliably. This is the simplest and most conservative estimate. And this is just shy of the 1,000MW coal powered plant proposed but more than the WHAT IS NEEDED NOW to meet the shortfall in the nation’s generation capacity. Ghana is currently grappling with a power generation deficit of between 550MW and 600MW.

3. Coal fired power plants are not necessary the cheapest to build, even if you exclude the cost of emission tax. The US Energy Information Administration, estimates that if you include everything from initial investment to the cost of fuel and the expense to operate, maintain and decommission old plants, Coal plants cost 1.5 times more than natural gas plants. Most people making the argument for coal only consider the initial investment cost and possibly cost of fuel.

4. Coal is Dirtier than natural gas. The direct emission from coal is twice as much as that of gas. Even when you consider the overall emission equivalent (it takes into consideration both the direct and indirect emissions), gas is still better than coal. And the direct effect is clear when it comes to health statistics.

5. The health burden of coal is higher than that of gas. In a study of the health effect of energy in Europe by primary energy source, it was found out that 735.8 persons suffered air pollution related effects (deaths, major and minor illness) per terawatt-hour (TWh) of electricity generated from gas compared to 9,730.4 persons for electricity generated from coal sources.

This is just a small portion of the overwhelming evidence in favour of natural gas powered generation in Ghana and for an environmentally-conscious approach to reducing energy poverty and increasing economic wellbeing of the people of Ghana.

It is noteworthy that this discussion of coal is happening when Ghana is already considering proposals from General Electric for a 1,000MW natural gas power plant and a Swedish firm for 1,000MW renewable generation from tidal waves. Perhaps there is more to the story of why Ghana needs coal. Whatever that is, it safe to say it is not for the good of the environment.

[1] Energy poverty is a lack of access to modern energy services. These services are defined as household access to electricity and clean cooking facilities (e.g. and stoves that do not cause air pollution).

[2]Markandya A., Wilkinson P., “Energy and Health 2: Electricity Generation and health”, Lancet 2007, Volume 370, Pages 979-90.

Creating Green Ghanaians: The Chale Wote Experience

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The Green Ghanaian Initiative exists to create ‘green’ Ghanaians. Our efforts have been found at various events that are youth focused and resonating with our spirit of innovation. One of such events in August was the Chale Wote Street Art Festival in Jamestown in the heart of Accra. This was the 4th installation of the festival and definitely the greatest yet. There was art on the streets and   on buildings, installations of artwork, and arts & crafts vendors. At the Mantse Agbona Park, food vendors sold local foods and snacks; also within the park were our sanitation stations.

Yes, while we enjoyed the art of Chale Wote, the Green Ghanaian Initiative recycled. We were privileged to have some of the Chale Wote artists help us recycle an old piece of wood into the ‘Sanitation Station’ sign post.   We were very proud of our work. The stations had bins for plastic bottles, plastic water sachets and non-recyclables. Budgetary constraints limited us to 2 stations with 3 bins each instead of the 11 we had envisioned across the entire stretch of the Atta Mills High Street.
A few things we gathered from the experience:

1. The waste ohhh, the waste!

We were essentially in the ‘food court’ of the festival and so the objective was to capture as much of the waste produced near the food as possible. And that we did. We carted away approximately 2640 litres (that’s about 3 tonnes) of waste!

2. Shock and Awe

Interestingly, people looked puzzled when they arrived at our bins. But the different colors stood out enough for them to realize that these weren’t ordinary bins and needed to be treated differently. As a rule, we always have an attendant by these bins at events to make sure that people use them properly when discarding their waste. So first there’s the surprise, then they pay attention, then they ask “where should I put this?” and then we show them. It was a learning curve for most and it was our pleasure to be the teachers.

3.Going the distance

Despite the two stations in the park, there were still areas in the park that could have been considered to be ‘far away’ from the bins, particularly near the stage where DJs and artistes performed. And in these places we noticed that people still littered. Periodically we would patrol the park and always found water sachets, plastic bags and/or plastic cups on the ground as people stood around. Even though we picked the most convenient positions for our bins (the entrances) and prevented a lot of littering with our bins, we realized that people would rather just litter than go the distance of walking to the bin when they felt it was just too far away. We’re working to entrench a new culture where people are willing to go the distance with their waste.

 

4.The newcomers

Some people have never seen recycling bins before. They don’t expect to be asked to think about the waste they are holding and decide where exactly it should go. These were the ones that had to be guided as to where to put what. These are the ones that asked why we were going through the trouble of segregating. These are the ones we came for. And it was our pleasure to be there for them.

5. Green Smiles 

Generally people appreciated being given the opportunity to recycle their waste. Many of the public had used them before and where delighted that Chale Wote was taking green steps to handle their waste. This drew interest in who we were and what our aim was. Overall, we created many green smiles and that was a big step to keeping Ghana moving in the green direction.

6. Overall we had fun and learned a lot 

Our 6 volunteers were Jamestown residents (affiliated with the festival) and they were  ALL women.  After the two supervisors explained the green bin system to them, they got their gloves and t-shirts on and we were an unstoppable team. We enjoyed all of the festivities including the music, food, artwork, fashion and lovely people. We danced, laughed, worked and had a lot of fun. We also learned the power of teamwork and saw what impact hardworking women could have when they have knowledge and tools to better their surroundings. We can’t wait to work with these ladies again!

Why I Don’t Believe in Clean Up Exercises

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In Ghana we have chronic sanitation challenges. We have no working sewers, no waste water treatment options, 60% garbage collection rate (in Accra, we generate 2800 metric tonnes but are only able to collect 2800 off the ground) and a current cholera outbreak that has infected thousands and killed hundreds.

Government has resorted to all sorts of stunts to make it look like they are handling the situation.

There has been the blaming on waste management companies. In its usual knee jerk reaction clean-up exercises have been organized all over the place and most recently the demolition of several homes in the Mensah Guinea area in Accra (behind but not within the Accra Art Center) rendering hundreds homeless because they suddenly remembered that the condition of the place was unsanitary. 

Needless to say that government’s attempts at stemming the outbreak have little scientific basis. A 3-year research project on the spread of fecal contamination (which is the source of cholera spread) can be found here. It’s very informative. You’d be shocked at what you’ll learn.

But that’s not why I’m ranting today. My issue is with the patchwork they call clean-up exercises. I don’t like them, I don’t believe in them (even though I’ve been forced to participate in one in my line of work). And here are my reasons why.

1.     Many at times the people responsible for the filth don’t initiate or participate in it

Many market places, lorry stations and other public centers within the cities have become the dwelling places of the urban poor. They sell there during the day and sleep there during the night. They also bath and ease themselves there. This many at times includes their young children. But when have you ever seen a group of kayaye’s or trotro mates organizing a clean-up exercise. Someone from outside the vicinity does it and they benefit. They might never have even thought the place really needed cleaning in the first place. Someone else did. Which leads me to my 2nd reason for hating clean-up exercises.

2.       Nothing actually stays clean

A clean-up exercise is a bunch of people getting shovels and cleaning tools and making some dirty area look clean. But the people who actually made the place as filthy as it is (and who usually don’t participate in the work) don’t change the dirty habits they have that got the place filthy in the first place. People still litter just as they did before, defecate in drains just as they did before and urinate in public just as they did before. One man did it right in front of our faces as we cleaned up a drain. I don’t see why we bother, after all..

3.      It never fixes the real problems

Ghana’s sanitation issues are chronic because they are infrastructural. You can’t have proper wastewater treatment without proper sewers or a wastewater treatment facility. That’s why lavender hill just can’t seem to disappear. You can’t have proper waste management (not waste collection) without proper city planning, navigable roads, engineered landfills that deal with waste appropriately and recycling to make the most of what we throw away before it ends up in the landfill. Clean-up exercises are patchwork. They are lazy attempts at solving chronic problems that are killing us. And you know why we really do them?

4.       Its helps us ease our consciences

No one wants to feel responsible for the filthy ‘millenium’ city called Accra. Not even the leaders. We all want to feel like at least we did something to make things better. Let’s go clean up the market. Let’s go clean up the beach. We’ll gather all our tools, take time away from work and do what a good citizen should. Clean up. And then we’ll all feel better. And the perpetrators of the filth will keep littering and defecating and urinating and spitting and all of the other nasty things that are seen as normal public behavior within this our acceptable culture of filth.

And by the time we are done we would have just danced around the circle and arrived right back at where we started.

A friend of mine swore that this time around cholera and sanitation would become an election issue and I told her not to bet on it. We’ve been over this year after year. The knee jerk reactions will get us to clean up the surface while leaving the real filth which is deep within our habits and out-of-order priorities. By the time its voting season again we will forget and stick to our parties and take the t-shirts and vote whichever way forgetting the issues. I think clean up exercises should be banned. We should drown in our filth till we fix what we REALLY need to fix. SOON. 

The First House That I Will Own Will Be Built From Trash

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When I was informed about The Green Ghanaian Initiative’s team visit to the Wheel Story House, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I had gotten prior information about the Wheel Story House from a colleague who told me this ‘magical house’ was built with trash from the ground-up. I had already painted mental pictures in my mind of how this supposed ‘borla house’ would look like. Trust me, these images were not palatable. I had pictured a shanty in Jamaica and favelas in Brazil.

On arrival at the Wheel Story House, I almost thought we had missed our location because the elaborate edifice we were met with didn’t look anything close to the pictures I had painted in my mind. What? A storey building built from trash? This is incredible, those were my first thoughts.

We were welcomed by Cordie Aziz (a beautiful lady who took us on a guided tour of the house) beginning from the outside of the house where the wooden wheels which were the main material used in constructing the house were displayed. Upon entering the inner perimeter of the building, I noticed items such as ceramic teacups, cutlery, used car tires, old vehicle registration number plates, stones, bamboo, metal scraps, tiles, artefacts, tree stumps, logs etc which apparently had been discarded by certain individuals who had absolutely no use for them. It is amazing how these items were used decoratively as art pieces on the compound of the building. It blows my mind how anybody could hatch a thought of putting to use all these everyday household waste materials. I actually got a ‘Eureka moment’ when I remembered all the ‘waste materials’ sitting  in my garage waiting to be received by the landfill. I have seen the light …lol

When we were taken inside the main building, I just lit up with awe and excitement. What? Impeccable master-class finishing from floors, ceilings, walls, seats, tables, artifacts and paneling all made from junk. The rooms had a modern yet antique cool ambience. In spite of the nature  of the building materials used, The Wheel Story House is still in touch with contemporary cutting edge technology. Rooms are fully loaded with air conditions, televisions, water heaters etc. I know you might be thinking this is an exaggeration but it really isn’t.

As untenable as this blog you are currently reading is, it is only for your eyes to see. Indeed, seeing is Believing.

 We were fortunate enough to meet the architect whose brain child The Wheel Story House is. Sammy, as he’s popularly called, had a very insightful chat with the Green Ghanaian Team and we were glad to have  such an interaction with a ‘green genius’. In fact Mr. Samuel Ansah’s attempt at building a junk house in Ghana is a courageous move which can only be likened  to hugging an Ebola patient without any protective clothing.

The crux of this article is just to hammer home the fact that these days, there is hardly any such thing as waste (except when it is hazardous). In fact the experts have decided to refer to waste as Materials in Transition (MINT), meaning that there is always use for discarded material until it has completed the entire value chain of recycling and re-use. There is absolutely use for the organic waste we produce in our kitchen, for the paper we discard in our offices, for water sachets and plastic bottles and even use for our feces.

As part of our “Devising Green Innovations” mantra we should all strive to achieve a Greener Ghana by taking a cue from the Wheel Story House by recovering, re-using and recycling waste in our own little ways as much as possible. After this visit, I have been truly inspired, so inspired that the first house I will own will be built from trash.


The team from the Green Ghanaian Initiative that visited the Wheel Story House.

Greening Ghana’s Energy Generation: Is Coal A Step In The Wrong Direction?

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Smog from coal generation plants posing a health threat to residents of India.
Photo Credit: Sanjeev Verma/Getty

On July 17, 2014, an article by The Wall Street Journal said Australia has become the world’s first developed nation to repeal carbon laws that put a price on greenhouse gas emissions. Australia, the world’s 12th largest economy, is one of the world’s largest per capita greenhouse gas emitters due to its reliance on coal-burning power stations to power homes and industry. The same article highlighted a World Bank Report in May 2014 which singled out the repeal plans in Australia as one of the biggest international threats to the rollout of similar programs elsewhere. While this may seem like an intellectual contest happening in the developed world, Ghana is right in the middle of it, well, kind of.

The Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum has announced the receipt of a proposal from Shenzhen Energy Group (SEG) for the construction of a 750MW coal-fired power plant in Ghana. On the face of it, this is fantastic news, Ghana is in the middle of an energy crisis popularly called “dumsor” and the impact on the economy and cost of living is all around us. So why is a Green Ghanaian not overly impressed.  Simple, in the 2010 Energy Policy document, the government stated that “…the use of fossil-based fuels contributes to carbon dioxide emissions.” That is a climate change fact. After the release of this policy document, it seemed the Ghana of today was interested in the long term impact of its quest to meet today’s needs.So now that government seem to have expressed enthusiasm in receiving a proposal on a coal power plant that will also come with a coal berth to accommodate imports from South Africa, Green Ghanaian is rightly baffled.

The first two policy directions of Ghana’s energy policy states that, government will:
1.    Promote  the use of environmentally-friendly energy supply sources,  such as renewable energy (solar, wind, waste), in energy supply mix of the country;
2.    Encourage a shift from oil to gas wherever gas is a technically feasible alternative.

Ghana’s energy policy, seems to indicate an acute awareness of environmental implication of fuel source for power generation and a clear intent to reduce Ghana’s carbon footprint going forward. It is fair to conclude that coal was not in that picture.  Coal is responsible for 43.1% of global CO2 emissions.

With the discovery of gas reserves at Jubilee and other offshore fields in Ghana, opening the opportunity for Ghana to secure reliable supply of gas for power generation, the path towards a “greener” power generation was clear, a gradual move towards the use of gas. Now, it seems all may be about to change.

Beyond climate change, the operation of a coal power plant has direct serious health implications if emissions exceed required standard. In India, coal power plants kill 120,000 people a year, according to Greenpeace. The environmental group’s report on pollution in the country warns emissions may cause 20million new asthma cases a year. China’s notorious smog in Beijing and other 7 cities, now infamously called a “nuclear winter” has reached such dangerous levels that the Chinese government recommends that residents should wear masks and avoid outdoor activities.

 The coal consumption capacity of Ghana’s proposed plant is nowhere near levels in China and India. However, the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum was quick to indicate in its press release that,

coal as a fuel is cheap, abundant, widely used, efficient, safe and that there are modern technologies to minimize environmental pollution…. and desulfurization and electrostatic precipitator devices and technologies will be employed to increase the efficiency of the plant and minimise environmental pollution to the barest minimum.”

Despite this reassuring message, the proposed coal fired plant raised eyebrows within the environment and energy cycles.

Has the need to alleviate the impact of “dumsor” provided Ghana with necessary background to revisit the country’s energy policy goals? It is imperative to work towards a greener way forward now or else the proposed coal power plant will go a long way to dent the country’s ability to green its power generation activities.

Update: A recent report of a plan to embark on a nuclear power project has expanded the context of this article and created a more urgent need to state a clearer policy towards greening Ghana’s energy generation as the country does it national quota in contributing to carbon emission and eventually slowing and reversing the impact of climate change.

Ghana vs Climate Change: How Prepared Are We?

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(Flood surges on Ghana’s beach roads as a result of Climate Change culminating in rise in sea levels)

For a global phenomenon as complicated as Climate Change, there is the need to expedite action in building a firm, legal and institutional framework in addressing challenges of adaptation and mitigation. Has our national government been alacritous and proactive in ratifying policies and passing bills concerning climate change? This article seeks to  highlight the strides we have made as a country and ask the critical questions in this regard.
The lethargy with which such pressing environmental concerns are dealt with leaves much to be desired, considering the fact that Ghana in particular is very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Why is Ghana vulnerable to the impacts of climate change?

  • Our location on the West African Coast makes us susceptible to sea level rise as a result of climate change.

  • There is heavy reliance on climate as a vehicle to drive our agricultural sector which employs about 60% of the entire populace.
  • Our status as a developing country does not provide us with adequate technology and infrastructure to mitigate or adapt to climate change.
  • Also, sensitization and educational campaigns on the issues of climate change are very few. The average Ghanaian is bereft of any knowledge of climate change and global warming.
  • There has been staggering evidence in Ghana of climate change impact in several parts of this country over the years.From the perennial floods,to wild bush fires and sea defense projects on our coasts.There is therefore the need for concerted global and regional efforts to be made by all nations in addressing this problem because of its Transboundary Nature (One nation’s action or inaction affects the other). This is why nations come together at the international level to sign various agreements amongst themselves in order for them to act as checks on one another and ensure compliance.
      

    What has been done so far?     

    •  The two major international conventions with regards to climate change are the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Kyoto Protocol. Ghana is a signatory to both. Ghana ratified the UNFCCC on 6th Sept. 1995 and Kyoto Protocol on 30th May 2008.
    • A National Climate Change Policy has been formulated and approved by parliament.  
    • Climate Change has been mainstreamed in various sectors of the economy in Ghana (Agriculture, Energy, Forestry etc)
    • UNFCCC National Communications and Sector specific greenhouse gas inventories are prepared in yearly in compliance of UNFCCC regulations.
    • Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) and National Climate Change Adaptation strategy (NCCAS) have been developed by Ghana.
       
         So, back to the question of ‘how prepared we are’
          1.Are the above mentioned interventions enough to cushion Ghana against climate change and its impacts? How effective has their operationalization been?
         2. Have we built the capacity of individuals and institutions to adequately plan for, deal with and adapt to climate change?
         3. Is there a comprehensive legal and institutional framework in place for climate change administration in Ghana?
         4. How prepared and resilient is our government/economy to mitigate and adapt to climate change?

    These are some of the unanswered critical questions that keep lingering in the minds of many Ghanaians. I’ll leave my readers to be the jury.
    We cannot continue as a country on this trajectory of leaving things to chance with regards to climate change since it affects us all in one way or the other. There is obviously a lot of work to be done in this arena.Aside the formulation and approval of the National Climate Change Policy, relevant laws to support the policy also need to be passed to give it a legal backing. There is also the need for the establishment of an institution eg. Ghana Climate Change Directorate to co-ordinate and oversee all climate change related issues in the country.

    As  World Environment Day 2014 was celebrated a few weeks back themed “Raise Your Voice, Not the Sea Level” this is a clarion call on all and sundry including our policy makers to raise their voices to the climate change debate and expedite action on the implementation of policies to ensure that the overall goal of sustainable development is achieved.

    How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

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    WHAT IS CARBON FOOTPRINT?

    I like to describe carbon footprint as the trail of carbon dioxide. We all produce a lot of greenhouse gases every minute during our daily activities from sitting under a tree to deforestation in a given time frame. According to the encyclopedia of the earth, the average North American generates about twenty tons of C02-eq each year. The global average carbon footprint is only about four tons of C02-eq per year.

    Usually your carbon footprint is calculated for the period of a year.

    WHY REDUCE OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT?

    We need to reduce our carbon footprint because the greenhouse gases we produce in our daily activities negatively impact the environment and its components in many ways. Activities we partake in such as buying a lot of water bottles and collecting plastic bags from our markets and supermarkets all contribute to the deformation of our environment. Deforestation which is a major crisis in Ghana has a heavy impact on the earth and her bodies because the trees that absorb the greenhouse gases we produce are being reduced. Greenhouse gases have a direct influence on the environment causing extreme weather changes; a global temperature increase, the loss of ecosystems and potentially hazardous health effects for people.


    Photo Credit: b4tea

    HOW DOES CARBON FOOTPRINT AFFECT US?

    It has become an established fact that simple life activities such as driving, using generators, constructing roads and using electricity all produce gases that keep heat in the earth’s atmosphere. This makes it easier for sunlight to enter the atmosphere causing harm to the earth, plants, human beings, minerals, and animals. Harm such as rising sea level, sunburn, and premature aging of the skin, suppression of the immune system, eye damage, and skin cancer.


    Photo Credit: Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

     

    HOW DO WE REDUCE OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT?

    There are many factors that contribute to carbon footprint. Energy use is the biggest contributor to the average home’s carbon footprint. I personally think the most effective way to reduce carbon footprint is to practice natural green living as much as possible. This can be as simple as eating meat-free meals from time to time, not wasting food, or even growing some of  your own food at home. A convenient practice of growing food at home is the undergraduate research in which I’m engaged, called the Oasis Sofa – Natuculture. The oasis sofa under this website is specifically what I encourage us all to practice.

    Many of us eat a lot of meat in our diets and yet we all strive to eat healthy. I personally stay away from red meat (cow, goat, etc) [maybe you could consider this] and switch that to chicken, seafood, vegetables and fruits. Having a well-balanced diet and eating a variety of foods can help a lot also reduce your carbon footprint.

     


    Photo Credit: Examiner.com

    Ghana, Its time to save our seas, AGAIN

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    ”Raise your voice, not the sea level” is the theme of this year’s world environment day and just in case you’re not exactly sure what that means, let me break it down for you. Our ocean is growing bigger and eating away at our shoreline. This is a crisis happening all over the world and Ghana is no exception. In parts of the Volta, Eastern and Greater Accra regions, there are houses and even whole communities that no longer exist.

    They have been eaten away, swallowed by the ever swelling sea. But we have made strides in the right direction, we have built sea defense walls to hold the sea back and this, I can testify, is making a difference.  But there are other issues to consider as well, there is coastal pollution and the washing up of strange sea weed. We only have one sea to treasure, we must act to save our sea yet another time. 

    The Keta, Ada and Sakumono Sea Defense Projects

    Due to sea level rise, three sea defense projects have been started in Ghana, these are located in Keta (Volta Region), Ada (Greater Accra Region) and Sakumono (Greater Accra Region). There are others in the pipeline as well as these aren’t the only areas affected. The sea defense projects are at various stages and having various levels of impact. In Keta, for instance, the project is just about completed. Its been created to deal with flooding coming from two directions, both from the Keta Lagoon and the Atlantic ocean. 

    In Ada, the project is ongoing with 15 groynes (stretches of the wall) already in place. I paid a visit and it was remarkable to see the amount of land that has been recovered. You can easily see where the sea used to cover a cemetery and how it has been pushed back kilometers beyond that. Unfortunately it looks like some of the bodies were lost in the process. May they float in peace

    In Sakumono in the Tema municipality there is also a major sea defense project which has been constructed. Overall, it looks like Ghana is making a great effort to reduce the impact of sea level rise on our coastal communities but there looms another danger. 

    New Danger Ahead: Strange Sea Weed

    While we celebrate the success of the sea defence projects against sea level rise, we lament another problem: heaps and heaps of brown sea weed. Earlier this year I recognized the proliferation of complaints of a strange sea weed from residents and fishermen in the Western Region.  It is known as sargassum (free-floating seaweed) and has been wreaking havoc on the shores of the Western Region. Since then, the weeds have spread eastward and can be found even in Ada and the Volta region. Many have attributed it to the oil drilling at the Jubilee Fields. A local in Ada told me he heard it had floated to our shores from Caribbean. Everyone has their theory but no one really knows for sure.  EPA has issued a statement saying it would investigate the cause of the massive amounts of the weed but we are yet to hear of any updates. 

    Bernard Kwofie has done an excellent review on the topic and raises the necessary questions. This troublesome seaweed gets caught in fishermen nets, fishing boat engines and completely litters beaches, making them impossible to visit for any pleasure or recreation. When the weeds rot, they turn a blacking brown and give off a powerful stench attracting flies.  Coming into contact with the weeds while swimming in the ocean can cause skin rashes and as a result the the overall livelihood of our coastal communities are AGAIN, in danger.  As we raise our voices about sea level rise in Ghana, let us also raise our voices against this new and foreign danger to our coasts, sea weed. Along with sea weed littering our beaches is garbage. The combination is disgusting to the eyes and sickening to the stomach. Take a look in this video we recorded

    We saved our seas once before… Isn’t it time for us to do it again Ghana?

    World Environment Day Celebrations 2014: Ghana Style!

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    Many of us want to do something to make our environment better but not many of us have the chance to participate in something monumental. Well, your moment is here. Thursday, 5th June, 2014 is World Environment Day and we’ve made it a point to keep you in the know of what’s happening in Ghana to commemorate the day… Keep reading.  

    Greater Accra: 

    Beach Rally and Clean-Up at Korle Gonno Beach [Green Ghanaian Initiative and NShoreNa Project]

    Korle Gonno Beach has become one of the most polluted beaches in Africa. The unholy trinity of a) effluent from the Korle Lagoon, which is very pregnant with pollutants from Agbogbloshie and Sodom and Gomora , (recently reported as the most polluted spot in the world);, b) the plastic garbage from all major manufactures rejected by the sea and dumped on the beach front there, and recently described as having more plastic than sand;, and c) the Lavender Hill, also referred to as a big blot on Ghana’s image as a leading tourism destination in Africa and, makes an eyesore of one of Ghana’s originally most beautiful white sand beaches.

    This event will highlight the very pressing issues regarding our seas, oceans and beaches, which require immediate attention. We encourage each and every journalist, media house, musician, civil society (member?) and the general public to make time to attend. Confirm your attendance here!

    Come let’s raise our voices.
    Venue: Korle Gonno Beach (Near Lavender Hill)
    Date: Thursday, June 5, 2014 — Time: 9:30 A.M. Prompt

    Donation of Food, Clothes and Drinks to the  JayNii Beach Eco Playground and Orphanage at Jamestown Accra [Action Accra]

    Donate your old clothes to less fortunate children and donate to the only Eco Playground being built for the children of Accra. Read more about this great event here! 

    Bottle Up Accra: a bottle recycling competition at Labadi Beach [Hipsters of Nature]

    It’s a competition between schools to see who can collect the most plastic waste on the Labadi beach. It takes place from 12 to 2pm. The event will feature poetry, rap and dance competition among students from various Senior High Schools in Accra. They are also joining Yaya Toure’s WED Challenge 2014 campaign: ‘Purge Plastic’. Attend if you can! Read more here!

    A community clean-up exercise and a symposium at Tema Community 1 [Zerah Foundation]

    This will be happening on Saturday, 7th June, 2014. The symposium will be on theme "Our Environment, Our Home; Keep it Safe for All" 

    Time: Clean-up Exercise (6am-11am) 
    Time: Symposium (11:30am-12pm) 
    Venue: Tema Community 1, PADMON Electoral Area
    For more information visit their website email zerahfoundation@yahoo.com or contact mobile: +233244630532

    Tree planting exercise and Seminar at Tema Community 5 [Abibiman School Clubs]

    Venue: Tema Community 5, Number 2 JHS
    Time: 8am

    Eastern Region: 

    Tree Planting at Aburi Gardens [Ghana Youth Environment Movement]

    Aburi Gardens has come under some threat from the construction of office space for the district assembly. GYEM plans to probe further and raise more awareness for action. There would be a photo shoot and then a seedlings replanting activity. Residents from Accra will leave Madina at 8am in the morning and return by noon. 

    Western Region: 

    Tree Planting and Workshop at Tarkwa [Ghana Youth Climate Coalition]

    The Ghana Youth Climate Coalition (GYCC) is planning outreach campaigns at Tarkwa Senior High School and University of Mines Basic School. The outreach workshop will include a PowerPoint presentation highlighting environmental issues of concern and another phase and will be a tree planting exercise. Contact them here or here to get involved! 

    Green Living – Tips on Living a Green, Clean Life

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    The opportunity to write on green living really got me excited. I quickly opened a fresh word document to write down all the green ideas I have yearned to share with others – through this page I am going to see my ”Planeteer” dreams manifest (at least so I thought).

    Then I paused to first ask some colleagues in the office what living green meant to them. Read some of their responses below:
    ”…living in a manner which minimizes the adverse impacts of your activities on the environment and ecosystem…”
    ”…conservation of natural resources…”
    ”…living in a natural state, not disturbing the environment, consuming organic, fair-traded products, using biodegradable products, recycling and generally not polluting the environment…”
    ”…going almost natural, living in a sustainable way, ensuring healthy populations and biodiversity…”

    The small exercise made me realize that as in the case of sustainability, development and even freedom; living green is a concept a lot of people claim to understand. However there is no one way to define and achieve it. Living green has different meaning for different people depending on their exposure, socio – economic background, culture, to mention but a few.

    Searching the internet for answers only validated the outcome of the office opinion-seeking exercise. The definitions are endless and covers issues including but not limited to sustainability, eating more vegetables, drinking from local breweries, car sharing, bio-energy, waste management, green transportation, invasive species management, taking the stairs, reducing air travels, reuse, recycling….

    I am sure we get the picture. Green living cannot be boxed.

    Will there ever be a definition which fits all and defines green living in totality? Maybe not.

    One thing is for sure though – the aim and heart behind all the definitions is the same.

    -To protect mother Earth
    – To save the environment
    – To give posterity a chance at living and knowing that certain animals such as the Javan Rhinoceros which have fewer than 60 remaining worldwide are not fictional Disney character
    – To prevent pollution
    – To promote fairness

    Whatever your reasons are, we are in this together. We are open to learning and sharing.Together we can make this planet a better place.
    How are we going to do this?

    We propose letting our little lights shine in whichever corner we find ourselves in. Together our little efforts will generate a greater effect.

    Email the Green Ghanaian team about what green living means to you and how you are living it. Let us know which green issues are close to your heart and we will address each topic on this platform.

    In the mean time, whatever your definition of green living is, keep living it!
    Your Partner in Greenness,


    Photo Available at: http://www.habarbadi.com/classes/environment/solutions_lifestyle.html