a community voice from the zongo on sanitation [August 28, 2014]

The following journal entry about sanitation was composed by a Zongo community member and given to me for the purpose of posting online. He writes, 

"Sanitation is a major problem facing the whole wide world, but serious and dangerous in least developed countries which Ghana is no exception. The increasing population of industries that produces goods to meet human needs has met less measures to put in place for the proper disposal of waste which is the end product. By so doing, people dispose of their waste carelessly and are not concerned about the serious problems it could cause.

Also, the increasing population of the country saw no measures put in place by the government to tackle solid waste which led to people disposing of solid waste anywhere and anyhow. Most of the homes in Ghana have no toilets surprisingly and so there is a heavy burden on public toilets which sometimes in a whole community there would be none. So you can imagine how solid waste is disposed. As I write this journal, there is an outbreak of cholera in the capital town of Ghana which is Accra and about 4,000 are infected and a hundred have died so far.

Choked gutters are common in Ghana which the district, municipal, and the metropolitan assemblies are doing nothing to solve this problem and also residents who live close to these gutters are doing nothing to help themselves. Chocked gutters serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes which accounts for the high number of malaria cases recorded in the country. And, it is also the cause of cholera which is going on in the country’s capital and we are praying with our fingers crossed that it does not spread to other regions of the country.

All of these problems can also be found in a small community called the Kotokuraba Zongo which can be found in Cape Coast which is the former capital town of Ghana. This community is in the center of the town and is the heart of the town. Choked gutters, careless disposal of trash, and solid waste among others are friends of the people living in the Zongo. And, when residents like me who know the consequences of all these see what is going on in the Zongo, it’s like a sharp dagger being driven through our hearts slowly.

That is why I was excited and I beamed with hope when I learned about Emily and her project some years back. It was very good to know that someone cares and feels the same way I feel. I was happy and I said in my heart, “the almighty ALLAH has answered my prayers.”

Last year was a success with the distribution of rainwater collection systems and also a workshop whereby residents learned to make soap. Last year before Emily left, it was not certain whether she would come again or not and so when she told me that she will be coming, I was excited. This year when Emily came, we kicked off with some important meetings and also the opening ceremony which everybody was happy with the number of people present. After that, we went round to ask the beneficiaries of last year’s rainwater collection systems some questions to know what is working, what is not working, and whether there is the need for any form of modification or not.

There was also a workshop where residents learnt about how to make liquid soap and also there was a business workshop where they were taught how to get capital to start a soap business of their own. Last but not least, there was a clean-up exercise where residents came together to clean up the community. And I must say that is made me excited the most. At least, it reduced the amount of trash in the Zongo.

What really excites me the most about Emily’s project is that, she does not only help the community, but also she empowers the community to do something on their own. A great philosopher once said, “don’t give fish to someone, teach them how to fish.” And that is exactly what Emily is doing. Luckily, one of the committee members working with Emily is an assembly man and so after the clean-up exercise the item’s used were given to him and he has promised to organize the community to have a clean-up exercise at least once a month. If things continue this way, I can see a Zongo without trash and disease in the near future. Although a lot needs to be done, I am hopeful with the commitment of the committee members and the community we will achieve what we want in the near future. Thank you Emily and may the almighty ALLAH richly bless you."