A noble companion; a careless beneficiary

Heap of refuse on George Walker Bush Highway, Lapaz, on 9th July, 2018 in Accra.

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Nature provides some level of calmness, peace and refreshing atmosphere. A long stretch of pasture land bordered by beautiful ever smiling daffodils gives a smooth breathe to the soul. A hide and seek play in a green vegetation shielded by canopy of trees is so soothing and comforting.

The sight of a gentle river flow in the low quite place of an inviolate grove with varying aquatic organisms floating and sinking simply blows the mind with great excitement.

The environment, indeed is one of nature best gift to man, in it are all needs of man found. A good and healthy environment has many benefits for human society and the need to maintain that should not be compromised.

As the human populace increases, more pressure is put on the environment which often results in negative implications. The environment functions to support the life of man; good air for breathing, plants for food, land for building, water bodies for navigation and support to aquatic lives. Much is done by the environment in keeping man alive. However, man in the quest to attain satisfaction from the environment tends to abuse our noble companion.

Trees are being cut indiscriminately, quarrying and mining are been done without plans for refill, our water bodies are subjected to destructive activities such as deposit of plastic waste, farming along river banks and addition of poisonous chemicals to fishing. We may get what we need for today but our unkindness to the environment would definitely break it to a state of incapability.

For this reason, I personally find a sense of responsibility in the agenda 2030, particularly SDG #6: Clean Water and Sanitation. Our world must wake up to champion the course of saving our planet, until then, we may expect more but get less or none from the environment.

As a young Ghanaian, one thing I cannot be oblivious of is our apathetic public display of filth. Our drainage channels are now warehouses for plastic waste. No morals are restricting us and no law is reprimanding us, plastic waste is the most common item to behold on the streets of Ghana. The situation is worst even in our major cities, Kumasi and Accra especially.

It is worst how we are treating our water bodies. The normal healthy being needs 70% of water to form part of the total composition of the body; to serve as a medium to facilitate the process of excretion, digestion, and thermoregulation and keep a balanced internal environment. Plant equally cannot do without water, animals cannot do without water. Our domestic activities; cooking, washing, cleaning would come to a halt in the face of shortage of water supply. Our industrial activities would equally halt when all our water bodies are dried up.

Many of our people are dying and suffering from severe diseases which could have otherwise been prevented if we would change our way of life with regards to sanitation; most of our communities,. the only source of water, have their banks ploughed for farming activities, they are left to the mercies of cattle which will walk through the water sources as though they were in water baths and equally defect into it. Sanitation is the root of the several problems we are facing as individuals and a nation.

Deepak Chopra said, “Although we take it for granted, sanitation is a physical measure that has probably done more to increase human life span than any kind of drug or surgery.”

The huge sums of money we pay as health bills would have be used for something else if we would give much attention to keeping to proper sanitation.

As the focus is to have a world of clean water and sanitation (SDG #6), it is our ultimate task and concern to contribute towards its attainment.

Fig 2: Source of water supply for livelihood in the Dungu community in the Northern Region.

In the same community, a few distance away from the water source is an open refuse dump (Fig 1.2).

Fig 3: Open Refuse dump in the Dungu Community (few meters away from fig 2)

We have just a little over a decade more to achieve the SDGs and a lot can be done to save the situation. My best friend told me, you cannot teach an old dog a new style, thus we must employ both older and young people in our problem solving approach while focusing more on children at the early stages to get their minds trained and nurtured against poor sanitation practices.

Environmental ambassadorial clubs should be formed in all our institutions of learning, churches and communities with the task of educating the public on the benefit of good sanitation and its associated dangers.

We can adapt the use of articles, poetry, drama,and all kinds of arts and Public Speaking. These would use their given skills in writing, art making, and speaking to help the general mission of educating the public about the need for clean environment and water. When we are able to use all these approaches, great strides can be taken towards reaching safe, healthy and resilient environments.

By: Comfort Sabbath Adjei

Young Reporters for the Environment Ghana (University for Development Studies)

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