Modern Reactions to Climate Change and Environmental Issues in Ghana

Posted: March 9, 2013 in All Posts, Ghana

by Jamin Shih

While environmental problems often seem distant to mainland Americans, countries in different parts of the world, especially those near coasts, have already started feeling the effects of climate change. Ghana, like many countries, has started a variety of programs and efforts to combat the environmental tragedies that threaten a coastal way of life. Some of the problems that Ghana faces in regards to the environment are rising sea levels, fishing problems, and tainted drinking water due to sea water flooding.

Several solutions for some of these problems include pushing back where to construct buildings, restoring wetland areas in order to reduce flooding risk, build and/or improve drainage systems in more populated settings, and protecting certain natural geographic features that will help offset some of the impacts of climate change. You can see some more information about some relief efforts here in this video:

There is also a trend towards solutions that work at a more governmental level. As this article from a website for Ghanaian news published just a month ago states, several well respected academic professors have been advocating for a national climate policy in order to systematically address and combat these issues. They have stated that Ghana needs written documentation to ensure that these issues actually get dealt with, and the benefits of such legislation would extend beyond environmental issues into economic and food justice territories as well.

Waste in Ghana

The professors have also expressed that while Ghana has traditionally had climate change proposals and solutions from other countries, as shown in the above video, it is becoming increasingly important to create legislation of their own. This is both to boost effectiveness of the legislation but also in order to take into account Ghana’s culture and specific needs as opposed to those of another nation.

An even more recent article from just a week ago talks about the environmental effects of mining and logging illegally and how it is effecting ecosystems across Ghana in increasingly harmful ways. Much of the natural land that Ghana is seeking to protect is being tainted by chemicals and metals as a direct result to the illegal mining. Poisonous chemicals such as cyanide and mercury are making their way into the water systems and soil that can easily ruin crops and render drinking water unsafe.

There have even been some reports of soldiers from the Ghana Armed Forces being killed so as not to intervene in the illegal harvesting business. Response to this has been swift, generating multiple ideas as to what is the best way to deal with such a problem. Ideas to reserve plots of land for environmental protection in areas that are ecologically and environmentally important as well as promoting awareness of the long-terms detriments that come along with the short-term benefits of illegal mining and logging have arisen. After all, while the minerals and lumber produced from these actions may help an economy now, the environmental effects will be much longer-lasting and lead to even greater issues.

A river in Ghana

Finally, an article released just the other day states a more governmental approach to these environmental problems. The Ministry of Environment, Science, and Technology received funding to help with research on the problems of climate change and biodiversity and its solutions. In regards to the lumber problems, a program will be implemented to increase the number of trees in sensitive areas and also to offset some of the effects of climate change.

The Ministry would also support the Environmental Protection Agency in its efforts to monitor the safety and quality of air in Ghana to ensure that citizens will not only be living on safe and sustainable land with safe and sustainable food, but will have clean air as well.

Environmental concerns are surely a growing issue for many countries and Ghana is no different. Many of these problems have no fast or easy solution, and only through the continued and inspirational efforts of a variety of people from a variety of different perspectives can these issues be rectified and Ghana see a cleaner and more sustainable future.

  1. Kourtney Doss says:

    Jamin, I really enjoyed reading your post about current environmental conditions in Ghana. While it is clear the illegal mining and logging industries are wreaking havoc on the country’s ecosystem, the Ministry’s new funding may provide some assistance to these problems. Thanks for all the great info about Ghana! It’s a beautiful country, for sure.

  2. I think it is a very good idea that Ghana creates written documentation to ensure their sustainability plan gets carried out. In most cases – to make something official – countries make legislation as a way to hold themselves accountable and ensure they follow-through with their initial plan. Ghana is no different and definitely realizes that their way of living needs to change significantly in order to improve their country’s future and the well-being of its citizens.

  3. Nathaniel Brose says:

    Ghana’s solution to dealing with the environment, as reported in your article is a very good idea. Although most of the solutions are reactive, they seem to be the most common and reasonable solutions, such as moving back buildings. I would not think that Ghana would have that much intervention from outside countries but, discussions from Polman point to another reality in which governments come in and help, especially the U.S. I find it very encouraging that they would begin seeking legislative solutions in Ghana as well, especially since most pollution is due to illegal mining and other illegal activities, enforcement would solve most problems. Very informative explanation of how environmental issues span across all areas of the country.

    Nathaniel Brose

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