Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Traffic and street lights in Ghana - time to go solar

So are we letting all this sunlight go waste like we do for the rains? Plenty resources; gold, oil, diamond, bauxite...SUNLIGHT, yes sunlight! Among the many resources that have come to us naturally as a nation and also by virtue of our location on the planet, sunlight is one that's unlimited and constantly in abundant supply. Why haven't we tapped into this and come out with solar this and solar that? Ooops, I forgot, we use the sunlight to dry cassava for Kokonte, lol.  In 2007, this country was plunged into serious power crises arising from inadequate supply of rain to feed our only hydro-electric dam in Akosombo. Five years down the line, we haven't learnt anything. There are many engineers and what-have-you's in this country, but still..... If you can't innovate, can't you copy? Solar technology is not new, abi?

Traffic light
Living in the capital city of Accra comes with the annoying opportunity to experience all the crazy little hassles you can ever go through in Ghana; from long queues at dawn to board a trotro, to the never-ending vehicular traffic, the waist-breaking pot-holes, the filth, oh yes "efi paa", to systems that are simply broken down. There are some specific traffic lights in Accra that are constantly broken down. One of such is the one at 'Spanner junction, Tetteh Quarshie, the Accra Mall stop off the Madina Road. I have personally witnessed a situation where the traffic lights were not working. So we (pedestrians) had to group ourselves and attempt crossing the road with our hands raised, going up and down, signalling speeding on-coming vehicles to stop for us. Are we policemen or traffic assistants? While watching from the other side of the road at another time, I saw the driver of a new Toyota Corolla trying to slow down for people to cross the road. The driver of the truck behind him couldn't apply his brakes and rammed into the car. So at such traffic lights, you either help a pedestrian or get your car rammed into.

For the past two weeks, power supply has been very erratic in Accra, why? We don't know. In the past eight days, I have had power for just one day!. ECG always tells me their usual crappy "we are working on it" shit, working on it my foot. In the evenings roads are dark and scary. No, street lights, no traffic lights. Just yesternight on the Abeka Lapaz section of the newly constructed MiDA N1 Highway, an articulated driver skidded off the road, turned and fell on the two commercial vehicles. Myjoyonline reported that according to an eyewitness the traffic light was not functioning apparently because the light was off and that he suspects partly contributed to the accident.

Simple question; why can't we have solar traffic lights? Is the implementation too expensive? No, it's proven to be less expensive and cost effective, even if it were, we had money for Woyome, so money no be problem! Is the technology futuristic? Nope, we have the know-how, this is proven and abundant mehn, even individuals have it in their homes. Maybe it's not the priority of the government. Maybe, we don't have a green and environmentally conscious government. Having tree-planting programmes alone doesn't turn you into an environmentally friendly being. Leadership. Leadership. Leadership.

My friend, Kwasi Yankera, wrote on Facebook this morning "In a country where solar energy is available almost 8hours a day, we still depend on unreliable external power to operate basic but important life saving equipment like a traffic light....why do we pay all these so-called Engineers for? why cant they be innovative?? r they appraised each year and how they do get promoted?". Right on the head.

The advantages in using solar lights far outweigh that of normal compact flourcescent lamps or lights. Most solar traffic lights use LED lamps as they are more reliable, more energy efficient, have a longer life span and turn on and turn off quickly. We don't need to care about inadequate rainfall, we are assured of power all year round. What more do we want than a system that's environmentally friendly and sustainable?

Somebody send this post to the president. Have a green sunny day!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Growing crops with waste water

Nuuna irrigating his vegetable farm
Where the water flows, 37 Military Hospital’s toxic run-off - Danny Kresnyak

Nuuna, works in one of the vegetable gardens growing in the shadow of the 37 Military Hospital. 

The tall, bearded, 24-year-old is the eldest of five children living in his mother’s house. He works hard to maintain a balance between family obligations, time in the field and pursuit of an education. 

He and his siblings struggle together earning their pay with the cuts and calluses tempering their hands. Each day, they pick, trim and prepare assorted greens for sale. They pluck crops from the soil, remove the small leaves, sever the stock and bind the individual sprigs together with lashings cut from the discarded end pieces. The bundles are put into corrugated boxes bound for markets both local and international. 

“Some stays here, but almost everything we pull up gets sent to the UK or Europe,” Nuuna explained, while slicing a fibrous strip from a handful of leaves. 

The land is irrigated with water drawn from both a well and a stream fed by run-off from city sewers. He said the property is government owned, but not on the supply grid. 

“I went to see them (the water and housing ministry) about pipes many times. They would never talk to me, always said to go and come (back later). I think they wanted a bribe or something. ” 

Without fresh water, farmers like Nuuna are forced to grow crops using the sources available. 

Accra's 37 Military Hospital was built during the Second World War and its obsolescence is becoming evident. About a year ago, the pipe carrying raw medical waste from the mortuary, maternity and surgical theaters to the treatment tank was damaged. 

Unable to fix the line, the hospital began dumping bio-hazardous material into the city’s open-gutters. Now, the sewers are overflowing and downstream the stench of contamination and concern is growing thick. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

CLIMATE CHANGE- GLOBAL WARMING - Ghana's inability to prevent increase in her environmental degradation - Samuel Donkor

Scientists and government officials around the world are now reporting, that the Earth's environment is changing in many dramatic and unexpected ways. Global warming, Climate Change, acidification of the Ocean and a growing scarcity of fresh water and the melting of the artiic icebergs are some of the problems being experienced and discussed in the news the world over.

Climate Change is the over all changes in the normal pattern of weather conditions , caused by Global warming, which is giving negative effects to the environment. And Global warming, which is man made is caused by environmental degradation, environmental pollution through the reckless use of natural resources and technological advancement.

Climate change effects are due to an increase in green house gases in the atmosphere. The main gases emitted are Carbon dioxide(co2), Methane and Nitrous oxide. The increase in Co2 is largely due to the burning of harmful Gases, Oil and Gas over the last two Centuries.

Today the Planet Earth is experiencing the serious effect of Climate Change caused by Humanity over the period of two Centuries. From the present weather disasters around the world , no country on this planet is spared. For the last three years, we hear of Tsuname here, Hurricane Cathrina there, Volcanic eruption here, Floods there, Floods everywhere and Heatwave everywhere.This Heatwave has caused vast tract of forest fires across the world.The ice berg in the Artic has also melted and is causing tidal waves of the Oceans, which in turn causes flooding after the least torrential rains anywhere.

God created the world, yet activities of humanity is making it deplorable to live in, hence the need for all governments, Civil society organizations and every human being to protect the environment. We are all part of the problem, therefore we we must all be part of the solution.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ghana hosts confab on reshaping agricultural research in Africa

Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - UK parliamentarians and civil servants will this week join African farmers, international donors and scientists in a policy dialogue that aims to reshape agricultural research to serve development goals and the public good.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, and the executive director of Oxfam-Novib, Farah Karimi, will chair the event, which the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is organising from 1-3 February in Ghana.

In a statement Monday, IIED said UK-based parliamentarians, the media and members of the international development community would participate through a live video link hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group of Agroecology in Westminster.

Baroness Miller, the Group’s co-chair said: “This is a unique event in that it will allow farmers from across West Africa direct access to the organisations which direct and fund research into the development of agriculture.

“We very much hope it will be productive and change the way in which research priorities are decided and implemented so that farmers become directly involved in the governance of agricultural research and development which affects them”.

Meanwhile, IIED Director Camilla Toulmin, said: “This is a valuable platform for smallholder farmers to get their voices heard. We’d like to see this constructive dialogue setting an agenda for future research priorities across the region.”

The meeting will bring staff from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) together with small-scale farmers and food processors from Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Senegal, as well as from East Africa, Asia and Latin America.

With a total budget of nearly US$ 400 million, AGRA is a major funder of agricultural research in Africa. The meeting will allow senior staff from the alliance to hear what small-scale farmers and food producers from a number of West African countries think agricultural research should focus on.

“Publicly funded research can make a huge contribution to eradicating hunger and poverty. But the way it is designed, managed and implemented rarely involves the people who produce, process and consume agricultural produce,” said Michel Pimbert of IIED.

“The lack of democracy in setting strategic priorities for research is not only unjust. It stifles the collective intelligence and abilities of farmers and scientists to solve the social and environmental crisis that undermines the right to food and human well-being,” he added.

In a briefing paper published for the meeting, Pimbert describes a series of “citizens’ juries” at which farmers in West Africa have called for changes to agricultural research in recent years.

The meeting in Ghana will enable such farmers, donors and senior scientists to identify areas of agreement and difference on what is needed in Africa to alleviate poverty and eradicate hunger.

Specific issues on the agenda include priorities for plant breeding and seed selection; options for managing soil fertility; options for developing accessible markets; ways of governing, organising, funding and practising research; and the types of policies needed to transform Africa’s agriculture, including changes to tenure, subsidies and investment.

“Mainstream agricultural research informs and influences food and agricultural policies, funding allocations and food security interventions of governments and donors,” said Farah Karimi, executive director of Oxfam-Novib.  

“As a rights-based organisation working against poverty, Oxfam-Novib supports the move to democratise agricultural research and let the voices of farmers be heard.  With the food crisis, now more than ever, we need to recognise and act with small-holder farming communities, as they are decisive actors in the local to global responses to the food and climate crisis.

“Agricultural research must respond to the needs and build on the knowledge and resilience of men and women farmers. Their right to food and land must steer the agenda of agricultural research.”

In the view of Toulmin, the challenges ahead are huge, if food security is to be achieved in a context of growing climate impacts, scarce water and increasing competition for land.

“Africa’s farmers bring much knowledge and many insights of great value to finding effective answers to these problems. Let’s find a better way of hearing from them in helping craft practical solutions,” Toulmin suggested.

The meeting in Ghana has been funded by Oxfam-Novib, The Christensen Fund, New Field Foundation, Biovision Foundation, and by IIED’s Joint Framework donors — Department for International Development, Danida, SIDA, NORAD and Irish Aid.

Pana 30/01/2012