Shit

Sewage dumping site, Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana. Photo by Christiane Badgley

Shit.

That’s what this is and that’s all I could say when I saw it.

The “this” in question is the sewage of the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolitan area. Government trucks drive the stuff over here and dump it on to the beach just down the road from a fishing village.

Apparently kids in the village are getting all sorts of eye and ear infections and the fishmongers have to lie about where the fish comes from or no one will buy it. People say it smells like…shit.

View of village from dumping site. Photo by Christiane Badgley

Turns out there used to be a long tunnel that carried the sewage out to sea. Municipal workers sprayed the sewage with chemicals before pumping it down the pipes. One environmental activist in Takoradi told me that the system was not great, but it was better than nothing.

The pipes have long since corroded, however, and the system hasn’t worked for years. In the meantime the population of the Sekondi-Takoradi area has grown. The World Bank has provided some financing for a new sewage treatment system, but work hasn’t started yet (and when it will start is another story).

So for now this is the Sekondi-Takoradi sewage “treatment” system.

As I’ve said in other posts one of the things I’m looking at here in Ghana is the state of environmental regulation and oversight. Ghana’s drilling is offshore, in deep water, and in light of last year’s Deepwater Horizon disaster I want to find out more about oil industry regulation and emergency preparedness in Ghana and the Gulf of Guinea.

What I’ve been learning so far is not reassuring. In the coming months I will write more about this. For now I’m focused on information gathering and have been seeking examples – on land that I can document – of lax regulation or environmental regulation that exists on paper but is not implemented.

Sewage at shore's edge, Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana. Photo by Christiane Badgley

So here I am staring at a beach awash in raw sewage.

People here are fully aware of this situation and are organizing protests. I’ll write more about citizen actions here and elsewhere in the region soon.  For now, though, I leave you with a picture of environmental degradation – certainly not the image of “Oil City” that officials would like people to see.

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