Ghana�s Environmental Policy Document is deficient

Professor David Kofi Essumang of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) has said Ghana’s Environmental Policy document has failed to achieve its major targets because it lacks direction.

          The document, he said, also did not have clear objectives and specific guidelines to measure its achievement over a period of time, while there was no provision of funds and other resources to ensure its implementation.

          Prof. Essumang who was speaking on the topic: “An Environment in a Ditch” at an inaugural lecture organised by the UCC, on Thursday, therefore, asked policy makers to revisit the document and address the issues raised towards sustainably managing the complex environmental challenges of the country.

          He said successive governments had not showed commitment towards achieving the goals and objectives of the Policy document because issues of the Environment did not really matter to them.

            He called for environmental education to be properly integrated into the educational system as a core subject and the harmonization of the policy document with those of the relevant organisations. while assigning institutions specific roles to play for people to be very conscious of the Environment.

     Ghana, in November 2012, launched the National Environmental Policy Document to be implemented to ensure sustainable environment.   

The Chemistry Professor, criticised the tax system in the country, saying it was still cheaper to import old cars, which were more than 15 years, than to buy new ones, while the importation of scrap engines and old cars already at the garages, which caused the most pollution were not taxed.

He said various environmental risk factors with regards to the presence of chemicals in the soil, air, drinking water and foods that had hazardous effects on humans and the environment had been identified over the past years.

“ There is evidence that these environmental chemicals may be strongly linked to breast cancer incidences and other common chronic diseases and conditions such as asthma,  autism, other cancers, lung diseases ,obesity and reproductive health problems, “he stated.

Prof. Essumang said black people had higher body burden levels of many environmental chemicals.

 These include mercury, lead, hydrocarbons and polycyclic, he said, and black people also had relatively higher levels of pesticides such as Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), therefore, they should exercise moderation in their uses.

He said research had shown that there were cases of excessive chemical use in farming, while some pesticides used in farming were not registered in the country for the purposes they were being used for, and also they existed in high levels in the Ghanaian environment.

He said though DDT had been banned for years, its existence in the Ghanaian environment showed how porous the national borders were.

 “This behaviour continues to make pesticides an inevitable food additive in Ghana and this is very dangerous,” he cautioned.

As a solution to this, the Chemistry Professor proposed the re-activation of the Extension Services of the Agricultural Sector to ensure the proper use of agro-chemicals.

He said Ghanaians should realise that the Environment was completely being threatened by their actions and inactions and that it would take a changed attitude and mindsets to be able to create the desired conducive environment.

“All our water and lands have been destroyed and water security has become a problem,” he said. “People who are not born asthmatic become asthmatic patients in their old age because of the way we have treated the environment”.

He. therefore, urged the Government and other stakeholders to support interdisciplinary research activities to elaborate and optimise experimental modules towards assessing the possible relationships between xenobiotic exposure and human diseases.

Ghana has a number of legislations on the Environment, including the Environmental Protection Act (ACT 490) Environmental Assessment Regulations and a host of bye laws under the Local Government Assemblies.