Ghana’s beaches are under threat from its citizens that if nothing is done to salvage the situation, lives might be lost at the end. Sand winning activities combined with open defecation are compromising the pristine conditions of the country’s beaches.
The beaches that are supposed to serve as places of relaxation and reflection for tourists are replete with pollutants. You don’t need to strain during a visit to the country’s beaches in order to discover fecal matter and domestic waste. They sit ingloriously in their majesty on the beaches.
This points to one thing that the fight put up by government to save Ghana’s beaches from deliberate human activities is being lost because nothing is really happening.
Persons who live close to the beaches continue to defy all odds to defecate along the beaches. Parents and their children do that with glee and their behaviour is driving away hundreds of tourists yearly.
The reasons these residents cited for their behaviour such as enjoyment of the breeze and non-availability of facilities are despicable. And to think that we haven’t been able to stop them is disheartening. Nothing appears to be working in third world countries such as Ghana.
A report by UNICEF on open defecation in Ghana said it will take the country over 500 years to bring the behaviour under control. This means it will take more than 500 generations to end open defecation. The World Health Organisation (WHO) also said Ghana loses GHS1.13 billion every year to address the issue of open defecation. Aside from the monetary pressure on the country, over 3,600 Ghanaian children under five die annually from diarrhea.
A Demographic Health Survey (DHS) by the Ghana Statistical Service in 2014 revealed a staggering five million citizens continue to defecate in the open and our beaches haven’t been spared.
I was at the Dansoman beach over the weekend and the moment my feet touched the sand, I was hit by stench from fresh feces. When I tried to find a better place to stand, I ran into four men who were busily scooping sand into sacks. Astounded by their bravery and nonchalant attitude, I stood there for a while to find out what might have driven them into the activity. Minutes later a group of men numbering seven appeared on the scene to stop the sand winners. The men who identified themselves as residents said their lives are being endangered by sand winning activities.
But I was horrified when seconds away, I saw one of the residents loosening his belt to defecate. I was filled with angst and wondered how that man thinks.
If his life is being threatened by sand winning activities what about open defecation?
Anytime I think about the threats Ghana’s beaches have been exposed to, my mind swirl to 1996 when then President Jerry John Rawlings took a stand against residents who defecate along the beaches . He dispatched contingents of military personnel to protect the beaches from defecation and sand winning. I was young then but I still remember what several residents who defied the government’s directive were arrested. I didn’t find out what was done to them after their arrest but the pristine conditions of the beaches were restored as a result of the efforts.
We need to protect our beaches. This should not be the effort of only government. The people must join this fight.
Open defecation and sand winning are behavioral issues which must be tackled with a mixture of advocacy and punitive measures. Already more people are losing their family lands to the sea as a result of this unbridle destructive human activities.
If we need some ideas, I’ll suggest we fall on the strategies adopted by the former President to protect our beaches.
What we must know is that when our beaches are saved, we automatically save the lives of Ghanaians.
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The writer Austin Brakopowers works as a journalist at Joy99.7FM and could be reached via Brakomen@outlook.com or www.brakopowers.com. Views expressed here are the Author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of management of The Multimedia Group.
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