News

IMPORTATION OF MERCURY TO BE BANNED IN GHANA

Professor Frimpong Boateng, minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, at a media briefing on responsible and regulated mining methods made known that the government of Ghana is currently strategizing to place a ban on the import of mercury by the end of the year. Mercury, which is a primary resource  used by illegal small scale gold miners, pose a lot of health threat to humans and the ecosystem at large as the substance is widely recognized to be carcinogenic.

The minister highlighted that, “the importation is under the ministry of Trade but inspection at the port is done by the EPA.” He added that discussions between his ministry and the ministry of Trade is underway.

The Minister is confident that implementing the ban will not take too long and this is because, Ghana has signed onto the Minamata protocol – a protocol that bans the use of mercury in the countries signed to it.

The fight against illegal mining has reduced the turbidity levels of the water which has translated into lower cost in treating water – something that needs to improve even better to ensure that Ghana doesn’t become a country with issues regarding water insecurity.

This a significant step in the right direction in the fight against galamsey. We at Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO) are happy with the progress of Ghana towards eliminating galamsey and saving our water bodies and forests.

ANGOLA: ILLIGAL WILDLIFE TRADE HIGHER THAN ARMS SMUGGLING

United Nation’s Environment Programme (UNEP) and Interpol has revealed through a report on Environmental Crime that inability to prevent and halt wildlife/environmental crime will make it impossible to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

During this year’s World Environmental Day, all strength and vigor was headed towards Angola – Africa’s biggest ivory and bush meat market, as stated by a recent report by Karren Alan from Angola.

On such a world recognized day, with the slogan ‘Go Wild for Life’, world’s environmentalists and conservationist were all in to develop strategies to fight illegal wildlife trade in the World. With Angola as the leading illegal wildlife trade country in Africa, UNEP celebrated World Environmental Day in Angola.

In phase of such celebration, Angola’s is putting up efforts to end illegal bush meat and wildlife trade to show their commitment towards the global goals. In Angola, it is literally a war between poachers and conservationist. A report by UNEP, shows that 100,000 African elephants were killed (by poachers) between 2010 and 2012 – this also tells how crucial it is for environmental and conservation investors to consider Africa as a top place to develop eco-tourism and other related initiatives that will enhance the closure and end of the poaching revolution.

According to Karren Allan, a reporter from Luanda, a project termed ‘Okavango Wilderness Project’ and Angola’s National Geographical Society expeditionary team have been studying the illegal trade of wildlife. The Okavango Wilderness Project is already proposing a reserve of about 175,000 kilometer square – a monitored but yet protected/reserved field where wildlife will have a better habitat to live and grow without being threatened by poachers. More so, such developments is accompanied with high infrastructural and administrative costs. The project also stated that there are existing wild regions with lots of wildlife which can be protected before it gets very late.

The leader of the National Geographical Society had mentioned that fighting the illegal wildlife trade is ideally a cause of conservation and sustainability. Additionally, he revealed the cost of some bush meat in the country. According to him, a monkey costs 6 USD while it costs 60 USD to purchase a cut of snake.

In recent times, through support from international agencies and the Government of Angola, commenced an initiative to recruit soldiers and military personnel as wildlife guards in an effort to end the wildlife trade while promoting conservation. Culprits found trading/smuggling ivory are to face a 3 years jail sentence which has been backed by law, however, the initiative is not yielding its full potential – citizens says.

According some citizens and history, bush meat became a favorite during the times of war in Angola. People will resort in bushes and feed on bush meat; after the war, they see no reason to restrain from consuming bush meat. The concept of conservation is not well understood by citizens and the income generated from trading bush meat is so lucrative such that it wouldn’t be easy to just end the era. Per UN and Interpol report, illegal wildlife trade is cumulatively functioning on a larger industrial scale and is possibly dominating arms smuggling.

Earth Day 2016 – No Coal; Our Goal.

On Earth Day, Ghana Youth Environmental Movement – led by Gideon Commey, and Green Africa Youth Organization – led by Tunza ambassador, Joshua Amponsem held a street press conference to educate the public on coal fired power plants, its associated health implications, and ecological impacts.

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For the first time, an environmental street campaign in Ghana attracted foreign journalists and local media houses. The press conference witnessed journalists from China Central Television (CCTV), SET TV from Taiwan, Pulse TV, TV3 in Ghana, Graphic Ghana, and many other local radio stations.

The event commenced with a welcome address from Joshua Amponsem (Tunza Eco-Generation Ambassador), Nat Martin (Canadian Environmental and Human Rights activists) and Gideon Commey (Founder, Ghana Youth Environmental Movement). A press release article on coal power was read out to the general public, following which we took questions from the media and public concerning their understanding and awareness on coal power plants.

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Nat Martin addressing audience at the street press conference on coal.

Most of the questions were geared towards economic stability which will arise if the country possess a constant power supply. However, this argument was disputed by Joshua. He iterated that, power generation from coal is not cheap as presented. Coal waste – particulate matter from the power plants causes health and ecological hazards that could cost the country twice the amount being spent on coal power generation. He also furthered to say, Ghanaians are hungry for constant power supply but the solution is not coal but #renewables.

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Joshua responding to questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Media houses present at the event asked series of questions concerning the position of the country during COP21 and the current quest to introduce coal into the country. Climate advocate, Gideon Commey, responded that the country’s decision to bring coal to Ghana contradicts with the commitment of global leaders to fight against global warming and climate change.

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Gideon M. Commey answering questions from media.

He mentioned that the President of Ghana, HE John Dramani Mahama, should be mindful of his role as the Co-Chair of a group of 16 influential global figures supporting the UN in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

 

When asked by the media about the next step of action if government does not heed to the protagonism of environmental activists for solar instead of coal, Joshua Amponsem responded that, activists will travel to the proposed coal project community and educate the community on adverse effects of the project they about to receive. Joshua stressed that the ecological impacts of coal fired plants were so high and therefore, as passionate environmental activists, they will push to the limit until renewable energy is considered as the best alternative to fixing Ghana’s energy crisis.

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The event ended with a loud campaign song led by guitarist and environmental enthusiast, Seyram Gh, who composed the song during our walk for solar campaign last year.

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Activity Plan 2015

2014 was a great year. It was filled with ideas and visions for environmental prioritization in African communities. Our activities this year has therefore been designed to improve environmental education and youth empowerment in Ghana (West-Africa).

We will also appreciate your contribution to help us specific projects and youth education. Kindly send an email to gayoghana@gmail.com

GAYO ACTIVITY PLAN AND BUDGET FOR 2015

WATER SCARCITY- SECOND MILLENNIUM GLOBAL CHALLENGE.

Water, as every average kid globally knows a basic necessity of life, is one of humans most needed resources. The earth as a planet is 70% water. 97% of the water on the earth is salt water. Salt water is not edible, and humans cannot drink this water. 2% of the water on earth is glacier ice at the North and South Poles. This ice is fresh water and could be melted; however, it is too far away from most human residence to be usable. 1% of all the water on earth is fresh water that we can actually use, of that, about 0.505 is in rivers- mostly dammed and treated for drinking water. (American Water Works Association). This statistics demonstrate to us the challenge we face in securing water access for our consumption.

Water as a spatial resource is very abundant but its availability for human consumption and access can shrink. This shrinkage can really be identified and witness in most developing and underdeveloped countries in Africa, Latin America, and even developed countries like China. Due to this shrinkage and limitations which is actually caused by human activities, water scarcity was listed the 5th Global Challenge in 2010 and now the 2nd Millennium Global Challenge- second to Climate Change. Water scarcity represents a major political, economic and human rights issue driving vulnerability and conflict in many countries.

In Ghana, 7 million people in rural areas lack water as 2.5 million of urban population lack water. 80% of all diseases in Ghana are caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation as more than three million people don’t have access to safe drinking water. (www.water.org/country/ghana). Non-Governmental Organizations, Government agencies and Cooperate Individuals are therefore encouraged to undertake projects that helps improve water quality and extend water access to rural and other urban areas.

However, most of the threat could be campaigned on and minimized- if not stopped at all. Clean fresh water is vital to our lives and many of the plants and animals we depend on. Most people think water pollution comes directly from a factory or other known source, a type of pollution known as “point source pollution.” However, because of laws and efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A), most of those sources of pollution have cleaned up their act. Today, the biggest source of pollution is us – you and me. This type of pollution is known as “nonpoint source pollution” because it can’t be traced to one single source; we can’t tell how much pollution is coming from where.

Improper disposal of waste into rivers, defecating in rivers, small scale mining, and other activities has destroyed most of our rivers in Ghana. Their flow, ecological health, quality, rate of discharge and recharge has all been affected and therefore, they cannot serve their domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes anymore.

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In 2005, the United Nations launched the Water for Life Decade to help create a greater awareness of the need to better care for our water resources. Today, known as the World Rivers Day, is annually celebrated on the last Sunday of every September. World Rivers Day is a celebration that highlights the many values of rivers and strives to increase public awareness and encourages the improved stewardship of rivers around the world. Rivers in virtually every country face an array of threats, and only through our active involvement can we ensure their health in the years ahead. Surprisingly, despite the global threat of water scarcity and lack of access to clean water, not all countries are World Rivers Day activists.

The world faces water scarcity threat, so as it’s continents. More than one-third of Africa’s population lacks access to safe drinking water, More than 400 million Africans now live in water-scare countries and unless we change out attitude, two-thirds of the world’s population will face water scarcity.

I charge every youth; the safety of our future and the future of our children, grandchildren and unborn generations lies in our hands. Let us adopt conservational attitudes and volunteering spirits, let us take natural resource management as an individual responsibility before we suffer “tragedy of the common”. It my world, your world, and our world; let us keep it safe.

Author: Amponsem Joshua.- follow Joshua on twitter @AmponsemJoshua