Mining advocacy groups, WACAM and CEIA have asked government and stakeholders in the environment sector to roll out immediate measures to arrest the fast degrading environment.
They particularly bemoaned the declining health in rural communities stemming from pollution through unsafe refining methods by illegal miners.
According to them, “over 40% of Ghanaians who live in rural, urban and peri-urban centres, especially children die each year from environmentally-related diseases”.
A joint statement released to mark the World Environment Day, the group said, “… issues of water quality and water availability are very crucial for sustainable development as well as meeting all the Sustainable Development Goals”.
They have consequently called on government to beef up efforts in fighting the trend which could severely impact the nation negatively.
“We wish to draw the attention of stakeholders such as government, civil society organisations and development partners to the plight of people living in communities such as mining communities who do not have access to potable and clean water and are thus compelled to drink from polluted rivers,” the statement said in part.
They also added that respective authorities who have been mandated to fish out perpetrators of environmentally degrading activities apply sanctions to deter others from repeating such practices.
Read full statement below
CEIA AND WACAM JOINT PRESS STATEMENT TO MARK WORLD
ENVIRONMENT DAY – 5
TH JUNE 2018
Sound and safe environment is a prerequisite for sustainable development. This is due to the fact that the environment provides a lot of services which are vital for the survival of human beings on our planet earth.
However, uncontrollable utilisation and extraction of environmental services by human beings in our quest to satisfy wants and enjoy life to its fullest, have created several products such as plastics, which have been found to cause numerous problems.
For instance, indiscriminate disposal of plastic products which have choked drains and river courses had resulted in catastrophic effects on mankind. The sad memories of the floods of June 3, 2015 are still fresh in the minds of Ghanaians.
Improving access to safe environment by every Ghanaian is critical not only to the reduction of poverty but also to achieving the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for health, food security, protection of ground water/surface water, protection of land, reducing the effects of climate change, reducing maternal and child mortality and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria among others.
More than 40% of Ghanaians who live in rural, urban and peri-urban centres, especially children die each year from environmentally-related diseases.
It is for the above reasons that the global theme for this year’s world environment day, ‘Beat Plastic Pollution.’ is very important. This year’s celebration of the World Environment Day focuses on the negative effects of plastic in the environment.
A study conducted by CEIA which was commissioned by Wacam in 2009 revealed that, most of the water bodies in Tarkwa and Obuasi mining areas are polluted with high levels of heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury, lead, etc. Another study by CEIA in 2010, found out that the overall mean whole blood concentrations of arsenic, cadmium and mercury of resident adults in Tarkwa are 55.7μg/L (As), 41.4μg/L (Cd) and 97.1μg/L (Hg) respectively. The World Health Organisation permissible guideline values for As, Cd and Hg in human whole blood are 2.0 μg/L, 0.3 μg/L and 2.0 μg/L respectively for arsenic, cadmium and mercury in whole blood.
A comparison of the concentrations of arsenic, cadmium and mercury in whole blood of resident adults in Tarkwa with the WHO permissible guideline values revealed that the concentrations of As, Cd and Hg exceeded the permissible guideline values by 770%, 6,700% and 3,600% respectively for arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd) and mercury (Hg). The implication is that continuous ingestion of water from polluted rivers increases the incidence of cancer.
CEIA and Wacam wishes to reiterate the need for all stakeholders’ particularly civil society, government and development partners to commit themselves to raising awareness on the effects of the plastic menace with the aim of reducing its increasing negative effects on our environment and health. Again, government should encourage reusing/recycling of plastic waste by organising competitive initiatives in the country to reduce the plastic waste in the environment.
We further wish to draw the attention of stakeholders such as government, civil society organisations and development partners to the plight of people living in communities such as mining communities who do not have access to potable and clean water and are thus compelled to drink from polluted rivers.
We believe that issues of water quality and water availability are very crucial for sustainable development as well as meeting all the Sustainable Development Goals.
We also call on the international communities to expand the mandate of the International Criminal Court to prosecute companies, individuals or governments who pollute the environment as having committed crimes against humanity.
Finally, we call on all Ghanaians, to respect Article 41 (k) of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, which states “It is the duty of every citizen to safeguard and protect theenvironment”. That is, we should refrain from activities that pollute our water bodies.
Jointly signed by:
Mrs. Hannah Owusu-Koranteng (Associate Executive Director – Wacam)
Ms. Mary Christmas Afful (Press and Communication Officer – CEIA)