This was one of two winning articles in our 2015 writing competition

Ghana is a fortunate country blessed with natural resources, fertile land, water bodies, minerals and the oil discovery which we boast of everyday. In a healthy environment, these form the bedrock for a country that doesn’t lack in natural produce. We are expected to live the healthiest and most comfortable lives ever! However our unhealthy environment constitutes the larger health implications which result in early death.

Where the problem lies

Health could be defined as a state of psychological, physical and social fitness of an individual whereas the environment is our surroundings, both natural and man-made. It is appalling to mention that we face poor sanitation challenges. It is very rare to walk on the street of Ghana and not see filthy and choked gutters. We dump all sort of waste into them leaving them to breed mosquitoes which causes malaria, it also causes cholera.

Last year there was an outbreak of cholera in places like Teshie, Labadi, Chorkor, Nima and other places in Accra. Aside all these, choked gutters emit pungent smell to pollute the air for humans to breathe.  When it rains, the gutters cannot flow but rather over flow into homes, destroying lives and properties. It is now so common that anytime there is a heavy rainfall we expect to see and hear news on televisions and radio stations reporting flooding in certain areas of our community.

An unhealthy environment causes flooding
Jomoro District submerged

To add to it, if waste are not properly disposed, where the little waste collected from homes and public places can be disposed without causing harms to the occupants of those environs then it would be like throwing a ball against the wall. Some places like the Patang-Abokobi area, Achimota and other places where general sewage are dumped and left to rot and pollute the environment of those living in the surroundings are doing no good to their health.

Creating a healthy environment

A stop must be put to this, ensuring that there are trash cans on communities where waste can be disposed off properly. There must be effective education and rules to stop dumping waste in our gutters aside sanctions for citizens who would flout the rules. Thanks to the National sanitation Programme which is active periodically to clean our neighborhood and surroundings.

Let us get permanent sewage dumps which will be properly covered and isolated to avoid it harming surrounding dwellers. Those materials that can be recycled should be appropriately recycled to reduce the waste and provide employment and more revenue for this country.

Beyond sanitation

Our first medicine to a healthy life as humans is the food we eat. Yet we have induced chemicals and poisoned our fertile lands which yield organic and healthy foods with fertilizers and other artificial food growing chemicals in the name of modernization, seeking bumper harvest and preserving food. Why not buy machines and employ requisite knowledge of those western countries that grow and feed their population with organic food largely enough to even export left overs to us? But rather destroy our naturally organic land and feed our nation with chemical-induced foods which are endangering our health by the day.

If the reason for speeding the maturity of food grown unnaturally is to meet the demands of an increasing population and generate income, have we met that goal? Don’t we still import unprocessed food to supplement what we grow here? Do we not still beg for donations? What then is our profit?

Some other practices as felling of trees indiscriminately are doing us more harm. After our environment is polluted we need the trees to absorb the carbon dioxides and refresh our air with oxygen. We need our trees to absorb direct sun effect on our water bodies to prevent draught. We need our forest to be maintained to forestall wildlife and vegetation which we are known for.

Yet the popular deforestation is taking all this away. How can we prevent this from happening? By replacing more than a plant when we fall down a tree. Let us avoid indiscriminate falling of trees and let the laws work to punish unauthorized deforestation by individuals for their own selfish gains.

Most vehicles on our roads suffocate us with toxic fumes; fumes from industries are emitted into the atmosphere without considering the effect on the living element on our societies. The police force must disallow such vehicles on our roads. Our government must put up effective checks on those industries which emit poisonous gases into the atmosphere including disposing of their waste chemicals into water bodies to pollute it for the use of all.

As we seek a healthy and safe environment for us all, our environment cannot be left unchecked. Let us remember that garbage in garbage out. What we give to nature will be given back to us. Let us sustain our environment the proper way, not only for our today’s benefit but that of our generations to come.

“He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything.”

Thomas Caryle
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