Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mining and manufacturing firms in Ghana operate below environmental standards

A 2009 study into the operations of 60 major mining and manufacturing firms in Ghana have revealed the low level of adherence to environmental standards in the country. The study, which was carried out from January to December by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rated the companies on a five-color coded scheme: red for poor performance up to gold for excellent. 

The companies were measured on how they met the legal requirements in hazardous waste management, toxic releases and non-toxic releases and monitoring and reporting. The rest are environmental best practice, community complaints and corporate social responsibility. Apart from Abosso Goldfields and Ghana Manganese, all other companies including AngloGold Ashanti, Coca Cola and Guinness Ghana Breweries were rated red. The two companies scored orange.

As I listened to Joy FM (99.7) I got a bit worried about this whole exercise. A representative of one of the mining companies which rated red challenged the outcomes, indicating that they have periodically submitted reports and liaised with the EPA on their operations and that if there were problems the EPA would have drawn their attention. So they cannot understand how that report can be true. However, one of the mining directors at the EPA insisted that the results of the study could not have been flawed given the fact that the companies themselves responded to assessment questions, which when compared to the standards fell short.

Another area of concern to me: The EPA says the initiative is aimed at naming and shaming the guilty companies so they would step up their game. What is the meaning of this? Residents in these mining communities have long been suffering from the effects of chemicals and hazardous waste which have been discharged into river bodies and on land surfaces. Many people have lost their livelihoods and sometimes lives, and the EPA is talking about naming and shaming. Is this enough?

I would always compare Ghana to the developed countries. When BP spilled oiled in the Gulf of Mexico, the company was not brought into the limelight to be shamed. Instead they were forced to pay for the damages and correct or mitigate the effects of the disaster. I believe those companies should be held accountable in one way or the other. The Minister of Environment, Ms. Sherry Ayittey, upon reading the report, has only threatened to withdraw the licences of companies that do not comply with the standards after sometime. We all know that may never happen. Think of this: does the minister really have the courage to withdraw the licence of a company like AngloGold Ashanti? The politicians and analysts will be quick to calculate how much Ghana will loose in taxes and royalties, and draw our attention to how the nation will be christened as an investor-Unfriendly country.

So the question is 'What do we do when these so called business giants hurt our environment'?
Over to you.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This is how it starts

Not very long ago, I wrote about Ghana's oil find and the dispute surrounding which company (ExxonMobil or Cnooc) the government should approve to acquire Kosmos' stake.

Bad news
This morning I rather heard very disturbing news again from Cape Three Point, one of the oil fields. A militant group calling itself CAPE MILITIA has already emerged.

Their mission
This group posing as the official mouthpiece of the unemployed youth in the area believe the majority of the proceeds from the oil should be used to develop the area first, before other parts of the country.

"You realize that already as the oil companies have started polluting our sea with toxic substances and the only way to demand justice is to resort to militancy because through their actions and inactions, the Kosmos group and the others are just like the usual multinational oil companies that do not factor local inhabitants in their scheme of operation," a group member told Today newspaper. 

The group also claims that resorting to militant action is the only way to mitigate these likely environmental hazards and other associated casualties that may befall residents. their actions will be geared toward.

Their strategy?
According to the leader, they hold their daily meetings at Agona Nkwanta, where they engage in the training and the use of fire arms at a village near the Ghana Rubber Estates Plantation at Nkwanta. 

The group leader disclosed that they have identified some pipelines under the seabed and will soon start attacking them and threatened to start targeting rig and non-oil facilities, like bridges, buildings belonging to oil companies in the area if they are not assured of equal opportunities.

One fisherman, Opanyin Mbere, was sure that his children had joined the group because they had seen and felt the atrocities meted out to them by the find of the Black Gold (oil). 

"Now when I go to sea I have no catch because all the fishes are attracted by the lights from the rigs; then we are told not to fish along the rigs, how should I feed my family, if the cause of my children can bring some hope, huh am in full support," Opanyin Mbere noted.

What do we do?
You know what I think?...I believe Opanyin Mbere is just one of the many people who has vividly described what they are going through. As much as these people do have a point, I absolutely condemn the resort to militant action. The fact is that the grievances of these people have been communicated to the government. We have all read about the Kosmos oil spill and other environmental issues. My question, and theirs I believe is "What has been done or what is being done?"

Look at the way British Petroleum (BP) was queried for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Two lessons here: It did not take militant action to "correct this error", and the US government was there to protect the interest of its citizens. 

I hope one the militants is reading this, as well as a member of our government.

God help Ghana!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Helping Villagers in Ghana Gain Access to Clean Water

Today, October 15 2010 is Blog Action Day, specially dedicated to Water. I decided to draw attention to some good efforts by two organisations to help rural Ghanaians access safe drinking water. The first is Water for Ghana, an organisation committed to providing clean water to villagers.  According to the organisation, they help villagers in Ghana build their own source of clean water. "Right now, the only water they have is dirty. Adults and children alike use this dirty water to drink, cook with and bathe in. They often get sick as a result.", their website reports. So far they have provided water tanks for some villagers in the Wester and Eastern regions, notably from the Adenya, Grumisa, Dekoto and Adanse communities. Watch a compilation of videos and photos from the organisation.

I also took note of some efforts by a group of MIT students who have helped a researcher build a factory that could provide water filters for 1 million people in northern Ghana. The news article reports that, "In January, Susan Murcott, four students, a factory consultant and local workers spent one month building the factory, as well as the kilns and other manufacturing equipment. The construction also involved testing the production capabilities of the site to ensure that the filters could be produced through an unusual technique that Murcott learned a decade ago while researching household filters made in Nicaragua by nonprofit Potters for Peace." 
UNICEF reports that nearly 1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water. The problem is particularly dire in Ghana, where diarrhea causes 25 percent of all deaths of children below the age of five each year.  In northern Ghana, the figure is even higher, where about half the population get its water from wells, ponds and streams that often contain disease-causing microorganisms. Part of the problem is that large, centralized water filtration and sanitation systems aren’t designed to reach remote areas like northern Ghana.
Hence we welcome the efforts of Susan and her colleagues who are doing this marvelous job of providing filters for the northern communities.
Again, today is Blog Action Day and as I leave you, remember that  you can help in your own small way by contributing via donations and volunteering to such laudable projects. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Environment Channel Airs on Ghana Television (GTV)

As the "green revolution" continues, more and more efforts are being poured in to make people more conscious of the need for sustainability.

The latest of these in Ghana, I guess, is a television programme dubbed "Environment Channel" aimed at informing citizens of the several environmental issues in the country. Starting September 27, 2010, the programme will air every Monday night at 21:00GMT (09:00pm). 

According to the Daily Graphic newspaper, some of the issues to be addressed on the programme include Ghana's Plastic Waste Menace, Climate Change, City Farmers & Food Security, Electronic Waste Menace, Sanitation and Guide to recycling. Others include the Volta Monkeys, Ada Sea Turtles, Bats of 37 and Accra Traffic Blues.

The programme, which will also have a  "One-on-one with the Minister" section, is produced by Creative Storm and supported by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Wienco Agriculture, ddp, Ministry of Environment Science & Technology, and iKasa Ghana. 

I encourage all Ghanaians to patronize this all-important programme and do our best to help save our environment.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

KOSMOS Spills Oil in Ghana

Districts of Western Ghana.
Image via Wikipedia
My last post was about an ongoing scuffle between KOSMOS and Cnooc over Ghana's oil. As matters seem to have died or or minimized and people have become hopeful of good fortune, a big environmental blow has struck.

The Spill
KOSMOS Energy is said to have spilled about 600 barrels of  low toxicity oil-based mudinto the oil fields. In March this year, the company is said to have again spilled more oil in the Jubilee fields in the Western Region.

Following this, the Minister of Environment and Science, Ms Sherry Ayittey set up a Committee consisting of her Deputy Dr. Omane Boamah, the chair, with other stakeholders like the Environmental Protection Agency. Their role was to determine the appropriate sanctions to be applied. In a preliminary report issued by the committee, KOSMOS admitted the offense, but fears are that with the current exploratory activities of the company, it could spill oil as much as six times in a year.

Unfortunately for us, Ghana has no mechanisms in place to curtail the effects of the spill. Quite recently oil spillage in the Mexican Gulf has been linked to the death of young turtles and dolphins. It may not  be long until we get news of the death of many sea species. 

I find it quite interesting that the Committee is meeting with agencies like the Ghana National Petroleum Agency to determine the penalties for KOSMOS. At this stage the greatest concern for me is the  environmental disaster that the spill could bring. I cannot think of a better penalty than forcing KOSMOS to siphon the oil from the sea. I do not think any monetary levy can be measured up to the effects on marine species and humans, which should be our greatest concern. I can only hope that the protracted dispute between KOSMOS and the government of Ghana, over the sale of shares to Exxon-Mobil, is not called in on this matter.

With KOSMOS executives already in the country and holding discussions with various stakeholders, 
let's hope that something good comes out.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Is this where the oil disputes begin?

DALLAS - MAY 28: ExxonMobil Chairman Rex Tille... ExxonMobil Chairman Rex Tillerson
Once again the fight for oil and gas has began, this time in my peaceful country Ghana.

A quick recap
As you recall, Kosmos Energy, along with Anadarko Petroleum and Tullow Oil, have been particularly successful in Ghana where they have found oil in all of the eight wells they drilled in recent years. The partners have found four major fields — Jubilee, Odum, Tweneboa and Mahogany — and have identified four more potential prospects.

Jubilee, which was discovered in 2007, should start producing oil by the end of 2010, and is expected to eventually pump about 120,000 barrels a day. Kosmos Energy has estimated that Jubilee could hold recoverable oil and gas reserves of as much as two billion barrels. That puts the field in the same class of discoveries that have been recorded in the Gulf of Mexico in recent years, proving out the entire region as a world-class hydrocarbons basin.

Hopes and Issues
Now since these dicoveries Ghanaians in particular have hopes raised higher than ever before, about how much development the nation will witness over the next few years. Some unfortunate uninformed ones can even be heard sometimes making comments like "They (refering to the government) should share the physical money for each citizen to have their share". (Some of these guys are joking, anyway).

According to a news source, Ghanaians should not be over optimistic as our "enthusiastic efforts to become a major oil industry player in Africa would be short lived, because the country would only mine the Black Gold for just 20 years". Amidst all these, Ghana is particularly aware of the troubles of oil rich nations in Africa like Nigeria, Angola and Sudan, where disputes have led to several loss of lives, destruction of property and underdevelopment. The governement is taking frantic efforts to ensure that the nation does not plunge into the curses that have been associated with the other oil-rich African nations.

The fight

One big issue which is rearing its ugly head up, is how giant multinationals are interested in the oil fields. News from various sources confirm that energy giant ExxonMobil has been negotiating a $4 billion deal, amounting to an acquisition of 23.49 percent of the Jubilee oil field, if the deal goes through. The challenge however, is that Ghana is now being lobbied hard to force the sale of Kosmos to China's state-controlled international oil company Cnooc.

Ghana's headache

As you read this the government of Ghana is now in a fix for two reasons, and maybe many more.

One: it is quite clear that it has regretted the kingly terms granted to the explorers and is looking for avenues to renegotiate or "re-engage" (as they usually put it), the deal. Following from this, there have been several raging misunderstandings between Kosmos and the government.

The government claims that even though letters were sent to them concerning the Exxon-Kosmos deal, their response did not come before Kosmos went ahead and consummated the deal with the U.S. oil giant. However, no clause in the contractual deal with Ghana suggests that under such arrangements Kosmos should give preferential treatment to the country, a catch which could open a chapter on a protracted legal battle. Further compounding Ghana's is that the deal entered into with Exxon Mobil is irrevocable and steeped in international law.

There have also been rumours of freezing of assets including those of the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Kosmos Ghana, George Owusu; the EO Group, the company that facilitated the entry of Kosmos to Ghana; and a minority shareholder in Kosmos Ghana, Kosmos LLC and other companies. Over the past few months Ghana's Attorney-General has commissioned investigations into the activities of the EO Group, citing issues such as the legality of the company. The government is also not comfortable with the abbreviation E.O. (Edusei and Owusu). It is interesting to note that when all hope had been lost about oil discovery in commercial quantities in Ghana, it was the E.O. Group which encouraged Kosmos to come in.

Without considering further information we are not privy, one is tempted to conclude that these are as a result of the government's regret over the terms of the agreement and that leads us to the second issue.

Two: For whom will Ghana approve the deal; ExxonMobil or Cnooc? As it stands now, the Exxon-Kosmos acquisition requires approval from the government of Ghana, but with Ghana's own issues with Kosmos, and the influencing hands behind Cnooc, it is not clear where the deal will go. If Ghana persist in its resolve to abrogate the Kosmos/Exxon Mobil deal, a diplomatic row could break out between the US and the country. The Ghanaian government is definitely not ready for the repercussions of such a diplomatic/business confrontation.

Interestingly, according to several sources, Cnooc has hired Neil Bush, brother of President George W. Bush, to work on its behalf. With Chinese oil companies having announced plans to spend at least $16 billion to gain access to African energy assets since 2006, one can imagine the extent to which they will go to snatch this deal from Kosmos.

News has it already that the government is in favour of the Cnooc deal, but is only afraid to go ahead because of the legal issues, while it also finds several ways to manouvre around its relationship with the US and investors at large.

Ghana is definitely in a fix because, this unfolding legal drama could also be presenting the nation as an investor-unfriendly nation.

Well, the war has began at the top, and I hope it ends there and ends well.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Saving Ghana's Environment

Ghana: Kakum National Park
For the first time, I decided to re blog a whole piece from Joseph Philip L Ziem, the author of this insightful article who is a journalist by profession.  Read on.......

There is growing consensus by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and even ordinary Ghanaians that improved governance in the natural resource and environment sector of Ghana could translate into more unbiased resource distribution and poverty reduction. 

This move could be attributed to the increasing spate of vigorous campaigns being mounted by CSOs like KASA-Ghana, Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM Ghana) and the Media Advocates for Sustainable Environment (MASE) in recent times; drawing the attention of the public to the fact that any form of mining activity, in or around natural habitats (forest or game reserves, water bodies, etc) is as venomous as the reptile, COBRA! 

There is no doubt that gold ranks among the most high-tech of metals, performing vital functions in many areas of everyday life. Its unique properties make it useful in medical applications, pollution control, air bags, mobile telephones, laptop computers, space travel, and many other things human beings consider essential to today's society. 

Almost all electronic consumer items contain a small amount of gold, which is important to the reliable and efficient functioning of the equipment. 

Besides, from its early historical use in ancient cultures, gold is becoming increasingly important in many modern medical treatments, ranging from drugs to precision implants. Gold has been used for many years to successfully treat rheumatoid arthritis. Many experts consider gold to be among the most effective drugs for reducing the inflammation in the joints and so reducing the symptoms of pain and stiffness. The economic significance of this mineral can’t therefore, be underestimated. 

However, the fact also remains that, the process of extracting gold from the mined ore uses poisonous chemicals which, if not treated properly, can contaminate water supplies and kill living things for miles. This is in addition to the local damage at the mining site itself, i.e., the hole in the mountain or the ground thereby making it impossible to grow our cocoa, coffee, rice, groundnuts, maize, millet, sorghum, etc, again. It is sad to note that mining companies in Ghana are ‘raping’ our natural resources with impunity regardless of all the environmental laws and fundamental human rights which our government is signatory to.

This is because, gold mining in Ghana has been seriously considered by the government of Ghana and international financial institutions as the path to economic development but it also has a long history of destruction. Besides, gold mining has been going on many years even before many Ghanaians in this 21st century were born, yet Ghana is still poor considering its per capita income, unemployment rate, poor health delivery, lack of health and educational facilities, unavailability of housing for some people like residents of Sodom and Gomorrah and many other places in the country, etc.

There are reported cases of massive destruction of towns, houses, farms, water bodies, etc, at Wassa, Prestea, Obuasi, Tarkwa, just to mention a few. And my understanding is that, mining companies are moving towards the North where residents like me are already suffering from the bad effects of desertification, climate change, lack of portable drinking water due to the extreme low levelness of the water table in most areas, erratic rainfall, etc. Any attempt to mine any part of the North, would make life unbearable for residents, and land, chieftaincy or ethnic disputes could increase. 

Besides, the area is already battling with efforts to combat deforestation or desertification through afforestation, land and chieftaincy disputes, among others and all the mining companies in Ghana which I learnt have bad records of human rights abuses and disregard for good environmental practices, are also radically yearning to come with their unending woes, to add to what is yet to be solved. It is unimaginable! 

Not too long ago, cyanide-contaminated waste spilled from the Ahafo mine operated by Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL) on October 8, 2009 into a river, killing hundreds of fishes and polluting the drinking water of several communities. This is gross human rights abuse even though they had been charged to compensate the affected people, communities and government with an amount of 4.9 million dollars or Gh¢7 million. 

Records showed that the first phase of the mine (Ahafo South) has displaced roughly 9,500 people, at least 95% of whom are subsistence farmers. A possible expansion of the mine (Ahafo North), would displace another 10,000 more. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank's private sector arm, approved $175 million in loans to Newmont for the development of the Ahafo project in spite of calls for the IFC to postpone the Ahafo loan and independent reviews highlighting the problems with the project.

Fellow Ghanaians, it would interest you to know that all the monies the mining companies get from their negative extractive activities are deposited in offshore accounts. Apart from that, our government receives not more than even 20% as its share of the gold or revenue from each of the mining companies you can think of. 

In Ghana now, there is more concern for the environment due to the consistent and vigorous campaigns by CSOs and the media, but there are still mining operations where little to no environmental consideration is given to the operations. Mining companies are doing things with impunity. 
It is undisputable that Ghana is Africa's second largest producer of gold after South Africa. Due to favorable investment climate created by our leaders (politicians), it is estimated that 70% to 90% of the large-scale mining industry is now foreign-owned. 

Records by WACAM-Ghana indicated that gold mining in Ghana started some 2000 years ago even before the arrival of Portuguese traders and other Europeans. Gold also accounts for about 96% of the total mineral revenue, and currently mining boom has attracted about US 6 billion dollars worth of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the extractive sector of the country as at 2005, representing about 60% of FDI inflows to the national economy. 

As at 2006, the government of Ghana had granted 166 new mining leases to companies to operate surface mining. This means; more environmental degradation, water, air and land pollution, deforestation, destruction of farmlands, in fact, a total destruction of our natural habitats right from the South to the North. …….

According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 35% of the total landmass of Ghana is under threat of desertification but current estimates and observations shows that 60% of the landmass is actually under threat. 

This is because, traces of desertification could be seen in neighbouring Bono Ahafo and Ashanti Regions and certain timber species that make up the vegetation of the forest in those areas are getting loss each day. Besides, the 35% given by the EPA was as a result of a research in the 70s and for that matter it should noted that there has been considerable changes over the years up to date. 

The three Northern Regions which occupy about 40% of the total landmass of the country is the worst affected by desertification. Why would our government sit down unconcern and allow a mining company like Newmont and the rest to mine in forest reserves, when common sense tells us that the more trees we cut down invariably affects our very existence on planet earth. 
Or is it because there are millions of ounces of gold in these forest reserves? If that is the case, then it means that Ghanaians are giving out their heads in exchange for hats that would have no place to reside. 

Our politicians are indeed killing us but because we don’t mostly see or know their secret deeds, we think they’re angels. But I think they’re next to hell! They take all the decisions including those that deprive us of our daily bread as a people, rob us of our birth rights as a nation without seeking our opinion. 

And I ask my self over and over again, are we still living in the Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana, which he together with other right thinking people fought to liberate from emancipation decades ago? In fact, I believe wherever he might be he would not have peace of mind because of the selfishness of those who have come after him.

I understand there is a gold bearing rock running from the South to the North and it is obvious that our government is prepared to allow mining companies cut down all economic trees including shea, mahogany, mango, cocoa, dawadawa, seal up our water bodies with waste, spoil the tarred roads we spent millions of dollars or cedis to built, etc. 

I am not exaggerating, but what am trying to explain is that if the aforementioned areas are not enough, our hospitals, schools would not be spared, because in other places cemeteries including what I have already mentioned have been destroyed by mining companies because of the ‘yellow rock’. 

I am reliably informed that most communities in the Bono Ahafo Region are sitting on gigantic gold deposit and for that matter plans are ongoing to relocate those settlements. People of Bono and Ahafo, are you hearing what I am hearing? And if yes, what are you doing? Please, you have to start crying out and make noise like that of KASA-Ghana, WACAM Ghana and MASE, else it will happen like hurricane Katrina and by then it will be too late for you all. 

Let me just explain this to you in clear words. The GH¢7million compensation by Newmont Ghana to the people of Ahafo is just pittance. To them (Newmont) it’s like money meant for buying food ingredients in any local Ghanaian market. 

This is so because, our leaders can’t bite or say no to certain decisions that threaten our lives for the reason that they have been induced with so many freebies by some of these mining companies or multinationals. Compensations like Newmont’s is just to sustain affected persons today and the next day, they perish. 

Just come to think of this; why would Newmont Ghana give 20,000 dollars to our (Alhaji) Collins Dauda, who is the Minister of Land and Mines to perform his mother’s funeral? This suggest that if any close relation of the President passes away, he would receive an amount that could build a six unit classroom block, fully furnished for the children of my hometown who are still sitting under trees to learn, if a minister could receive that much. 

Ghana is a signatory to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has initiated a number of policies and programmes to arrest the spread of land degradation and desertification. The implementation of the National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP), the Environmental Resources Management Project and others like the land use map, environmental information system, land suitability and capability maps, land and water management, Savannah Resource Management and the National Reforestation Programme are worthwhile. 

But the lack of political commitment on the part of our leaders will eventually send us all into our graves unless they change their ATITUDE. I declare that mining is not a panacea to the Ghana’s problems because it only contributes 46 million dollars to the nation whiles bush meat derives 300 million dollars. So, it would be unthinkable to allow Newmont and others to mine in forest reserves.

Folks, I will end hear but also write something to promote the good course I am championing, because; “The earth is a mother, and if we abide by her laws, she would care for us all”……..

....and that was it !.

Full credits to Joseph Philip L Ziem

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Accra: Power From Waste

Photo taken by myself
Image via Wikipedia
A waste management project, expected to clean up the Accra Metropolis (AMA) is set to commence in August 2010. According the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr. Alfred Vanderpuije, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has already been signed with a private company, EWS Ghana Pty, to set up a processing plant in Teshie - Accra. 

While this exercise is expected to clean up our filth-engulfed capital, it is also expected to generate about 45 megawatts of power, which will be fed into the national grid.

It is expected that the people of Accra will see some effects of this agreement within the next four to five months, with the provision of over 140 waste vehicles and refuse containers for waste collection.

My interest with this project however, lies more with the way it addresses the issue of waste dumping. In several communities where collected waste is dumped, the AMA has had to deal with legal issues which arise as a result of conflicts with the residents.

One cannot blame these residents considering the hazards waste dumping causes to their communities. Such communities are always an eyesore, with so many flies, stench, insects, land-water-air pollution and all its attendant diseases. With this project however, there has been another agreement with the Ledzokuku Krowor Municipal Assembly to use the site for plant, and the waste will not just be dumped but processed. This means the hitherto dumping communities can have their peace of mind, and we all enjoy a cleaner and safer environment to live in.

"Waste is gold and the nation can raise a substantial amount of money for her development, if it invests in it.....The developed nations have processed their waste into energy, and that has helped to address some environmental problems", he concluded.

Like I always say, even this effort cannot do much if we do not change our attitudes towards the environment. You can do your part.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ghana Launches "Greening Ghana Project"

Campaign poster for {{w|John Atta-Mills}}

Image via Wikipedia

Ghana's President, Prof. John Evans Atta-Mills, yesterday launched a nationwide forest plantation programme dubbed "Greening the Environment for a Better Ghana". 

With the nation's forest resources reduced from 8.2 million hectares in 1900 to 1.2 million hectares currently, the project is aimed at halting deforestation. Within the next five years, the project also aims at creating over 51,000 jobs for the youth.

The deletion of the forests and its resources have been largely attributed to the activities of illegal chain saw operators over the years. The president noted that apart from the huge amounts of money lost in terms of revenues, the country's environment has also suffered significantly. Rainfall patterns seem to change every year and floods, massive erosions and destruction of some protected species have all been attributed to these misdeed.

According to the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr. Collins Dauda, Ghana loses about 65,000 hectares of forest resources annually to the activities of illegal loggers and chain saw operators. Now for any Ghanaian, this should be a disturbing trend. Though the president has urged the security agencies to beef up efforts to arrest these "anti-environmentalists", the onus lies on all Ghanaians to rise up to this challenge and be ambassadors of this project for our our sake and for posterity.

God bless our homeland Ghana.


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Friday, January 15, 2010

Green phone runs on Coca-Cola

Every innovation is worth mentioning, no matter how weird or fanciful it sounds. Just imagine powering your mobile handset by filling it with Coca-Cola, yes I mean the soft drink!

And even if Nokia thinks this is too futuristic, at least the prototype has been designed.

As part of her final university project, Ms Daizi Zheng, a Central Saint Martins graduate, developed this "greenphone" concept for Finnish phone giant Nokia. What makes this a green technology is the fact that it has the potential to be fully biodegradable. According to Ms Zheng, her prototype could last up to four times longer than the traditional lithium ion batteries currently powering most phones and gadgets.

The bio battery produces electricity by releasing enzymes that catalyse the sugar in the soft drink, leaving behind water and oxygen as the battery dies out.

Though Nokia is not considering a possibility of pursuing this concept in the near future, many electronics companies are developing bio batteries that could be on the market within the next five years, she added.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti in Crises: Earthquake Meets Deforestation

Haiti Earthquake 13.01.10

Image by caritasinternationalis via Flickr

Even before last Tuesday's devastating 7.0 earthquake in Haiti, the island nation had been going through several years of political strife, economic embargoes and natural disasters. There had been one disaster after the other in the past years, from diseases to mudslides, to floods. And the list grows taller and taller.

With a legacy of been the most deforested nation in the world (97% deforested), Haitians practically live a life of meal to meal and not even day to day. For most, survival means cutting down trees for charcoal, which they either sell or use for heating and cooking.

Massive floods have fueled erosion that has crippled the agricultural industry in Haiti, not leaving that of transportation. Many roads have been washed out and people usually develop cold feet when they have to travel. For even the brave travelers, one cannot consider closing his or her eyes to catch a quick nap, considering the many dangers associated with traveling on the devastated roads. Watch this.

And all this was before the breath-taking earthquake, which has left over a hundred thousand people dead. One wonders whether the nation can be able to recover from this hit, and even if it can, how long this will take. With several infrastructure completely wiped out, who will have the peace of mind to think of environmental sustainability when there is no place to lay one's head?.

In other related news, singer Wyclef Jean's YĆ©le Haiti Organisation has raised more than $400,000 to support restoration of victims. Donations of $5 are made by texting "Yele" to "501501" (Does this work in Africa? Someone tell me please). Similar efforts by Red Cross has raised over $800,000, and this is also by texting "Haiti" to the number "90999", which results in a $10 donation. Readers are however warned of people who will use this to promote several online scums to enrich themselves. Beware.

An Akan proverb says "If you see the beard of your friend in flames, you better fetch water and place it by yours". As we help restore Haitians in various ways, let's also remember to promote environmental sustainability in our own small ways.

Our consolations to the good people of Haiti.

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