Improving solid waste management practices in the Ashanti Akim North District of the Ashanti Region

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The generation of solid waste in urban environment in the developing world is becoming alarming making its management extremely difficult. In Ghana, solid waste generation has increased to such an extent that its attendant public, occupational and environmental health hazards have become a national issue. The Asante Akim North District is experiencing a similar problem hence this study. A descriptive cross- sectional study sought to examine the current waste management practices, which included generation, collection, transportation and disposal, and to make recommendation for the improvement of solid waste in the District. One hundred and one (101) households were randomly selected. The District Environmental officer, the twelve Environmental Health officers, the twelve Refuse collectors, some hawkers and GPRTU Officials in the main lorry stations were purposely interviewed. Questionnaire and interview guide were used to obtain the needed data. The data obtained were post coded and analysed using EPI- INFO Statistical Package. The study results revealed that solid waste management in the Asante Akim north District was very poor. The District Assembly was the sole organization responsible for Solid wastes management in the District. About 70% of the solid wastes were generated from households. Other areas where solid wastes were generated included lorry stations, market places, in front of stores and along the major streets. The district generated 23,360 tons of solid waste annually between 2001 and2003 with an average of 0.5 kg/person/day. The District Assembly spent about 550 million cedis annually in managing solid waste. In spite of the huge volume of solid waste generated the private sector had not been involved in solid waste management. Plastic waste was seen to be generated in large volumes and could be seen in almost all places posing environmental threat in the District. All the households (100%) interviewed maintained that solid waste management was a major problem in the district. The entire district has twelve (12) environmental health officers and twelve (12) refuse collectors. All the 12 refuse collectors in the district were untrained. Moreover, they lacked the basic protective clothings. Society also did not give them the needed respect. The entire District had only one refuse truck and two power tillers attached with a trailer responsible for public and household solid waste collection respectively. The district had approved 45 refuse dumps to cater for the large volume of solid waste. The study revealed that the refuse dumps were either too close to some households or too far away from them making disposal of waste very difficult. Poor solid waste management was the cause of some major diseases in the district. Typhoid, 41.7% diarrhea, 25.0°kmalaria 8.3%, choleral6.7% and worm infestation8.3% were readily identified. People’s attitude towards solid waste was seen to be very poor. Indiscriminate dumping of solid waste into drains and other public places was very common. Moreover, participation in communal labour in the district was very low. It was recommended that the private sector would be involved in solid waste management in the District. Organised bodies like the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) would be of great help. Unit areas should establish its own solid waste management committees and intensive house-to-house registration exercise carried out in order to cover all residents in the house- to- house collection exercise. Intensive education should also be carried out to sensitise the people on the need to maintain a clean environment.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Award of Master of Science Degree in Health Education and Promotion, 2005