Environmental effects of sand winning activities in the Ahanta West District: a case study of Adjua and Funkoe

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Environmental issues are now high on the agenda of all governments worldwide. This is the result of the realization that development and the environment are inseparable and that utilization of resources to satisfy man’s needs should not be done without ecological considerations. However in two settlements - Adjua and Funkoe in the Ahanta West District, the inhabitants have subjected the coastline to very intensive and unprecedented sand winning activities. This has resulted in serious environmental damage to the coastline. This study examines the whole sand winning industry by examining the operations of the industry, identifying the costs and benefits as well as the beneficiaries of the activity. It also examines the perception of the inhabitants on adverse environmental effects of sand winning in the two settlements. To achieve the above objectives, data were assembled from both documentary sources and interviews with representative sample of individual sand winners, Chiefs and Elders, Town Development committees (TDC5) of Adjua and Funkoe. Data were also gathered through interview guides from the Environmental Protection Council at Takoradi, the Mines Department and the Ahanta West District Assembly. The study revealed that sand winning is an important economic activity which gives sustenance to over 40 percent of the inhabitants at Adjua and Funkoe. In addition, proceeds from sand winning activities are used to finance community projects. However 73.4 percent of the income earned from sand winning activities goes to contractors whilst the Community gets only 26.6%. Pronounced coastal erosion and the washing away of buildings and coconut trees were seen as a direct effect of the sand winning activities. The study also revealed that the rate of replenishment of sand from the sea is less than the rate of extraction, the difference manifesting itself in pronounced coastal erosion. In response to both the positive and negative effects of sand winning, it is proposed that the activity should be continued but with ecological considerations. It is proposed that awareness campaigns be instituted now whilst alternative sites are found for the activity. Another proposal is the alternation of the Sand winning activities along the coast to minimize damage and allow the sea to replenish the lost sand. It is also proposed that the whole sand winning industry be institutionalized with the District Assembly at the centre of operation. In the long run, it is proposed that District Environmental Committees be set up to streamline all activities on the environment whilst making efforts with other bodies to reclaim and rehabilitate the Adjua and Funkoe Beaches. The study concludes that if the recommendations are acted upon, maximum benefits would be obtained from Sand winning which will become sustainable in the long run with ecological considerations at the background.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Post Graduate studies, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management,1993.