Time to Protect our Beaches from Pollution In the Fight against Climate change – Kwabena Adu Koranteng Writes

One of the factors that could increase Ghana’s Tourism and propel development in tourism is the ability to have clean and neat beaches and shores across the country.

all over the world, countries that have maximized revenue and economic growth through tourism are countries that have developed, protected and maintained their beaches and tourist sites .

For instance, a country like Gambia has been acknowledged worldwide for its nice and beautiful beaches hence the name “smiling coast of Africa. I must say that I really enjoyed my stay in Banjul when I visited some time ago. The beaches in Banjul attract thousands of tourists and holiday makers, mostly from Europe, The United states of America and Asia. In Ghana, I have visited many beaches in several coastal areas and must indicate that though some are in good conditions, others are in deplorable conditions.

The conditions of some of our beaches are appalling. Places like Aboadze in the shama district in Takoradi in the Western Region. Chokor, Jamestown, Prampram Teshie, and Nungua beaches in the Greater Accra region are in highly deplorable conditions. These beaches have been polluted with toxic wastes, plastic wastes, human excreta, sachet water covers , used clothing and other unwanted materials. Sandals, empty water sachets, plastic bottles, toys, glass bottles, polythene bags, and disposable cups, coconut husks, and styrofoam are among the common waste materials found along the beach.

Sometimes these materials are directly dumped into the sea but are reversed by the sea waves and then end up on the beaches. Other homes have also connected their liquid wastes from manholes and toilet wells directly into the sea.
These unhygienic beaches continue to serve as a working field for canoe and artisanal fishermen, who repair their fishing nets, and sometimes cook and eat there . These areas have been identified by health analysts as hotspots for some communicable diseases like cholera, Diarrhoea among others

Some of these waste materials return to the sea whenever it rains or when high tides draw the sea .The close proximity of the open defecation to fishing activities also raises serious health concerns as fishermen pull out their harvest through the polluted coast.

Climate change as a globally recognized multiplier of health risks has the potential of exposing many Ghanaians, especially those who have some form of contact with such highly polluted beaches, to preventable disease associated with poor sanitation.

The World Bank Group’s new Country Climate and Development Report (CCDR) for Ghana estimates that at least one million more people could fall into poverty due to climate shocks, if urgent climate actions are not taken. Income could reduce by up to 40% for poor households by 2050. The analysis calls for pursuing a development pathway that builds resilience to climate change and fosters a transition to low-carbon growth through a combination of policies and public and private investments.

Ghana’s economic and human development is vulnerable to climate change. On average, flooding affects around 45,000 Ghanaians every year, and half of Ghana’s coastline is vulnerable to erosion and flooding as a result of sea-level rise. Without prompt actions, higher temperatures and heat stress will affect crop and labor productivity, and more erratic rainfall patterns will damage buildings and infrastructure. Land degradation, water insecurity and local air pollution will also hamper human capital and productivity.

The West African country has achieved major development gains over the past three decades, but progress has slowed down. The report highlights that the country has not fully managed to convert its natural wealth into sufficient infrastructure, human, and institutional capital for sustained growth.

“The report demonstrates that Ghana can simultaneously pursue its long-term development and climate goals,” said Pierre Laporte, World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. “Ghana’s contribution to global greenhouse gases emissions is small, with emissions on a per capita basis at 24% of the global average. The country can take a more resilient development pathway, avoiding costly lock-ins, leapfrogging to cutting-edge technologies, and starting to mobilize climate finance.”

The report identifies six priority areas for a Climate Resilient and Low Carbon Development pathway that will foster more green, resilient, and inclusive growth in the country:

1. adopting an integrated approach to agriculture and environmental management by fostering integrated landscape management, promoting climate-smart agriculture, and supporting adaptation of coastal communities;

2. building sustainable cities and resilient infrastructure systems through better urban development, enhancements in resilient mobility infrastructure and services, and improved waste management;

3. boosting disaster risk preparedness through early warning systems, better national financial preparedness against climate shocks, and adaptive health and social protection systems;

4. realizing new opportunities for managing forest resource as an asset for climate resilience, including for carbon sinks focusing on reversing deforestation and promoting cleaner cooking;

5. promoting a transition to clean energy by scaling up renewable energy sources and strengthening regional energy markets; and

6. modernizing transport systems by, among others, improving public transportation and updating vehicle standards.

In the context of high debt and tight fiscal constraints, Ghana will need to carefully prioritize investments starting from no-regret actions that maximize resilience benefits at an affordable cost. The country will need to take an urgent action to restore macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability and improve business enabling environment to mobilize funds from various sources, including private and development finance. The report estimates the cost of climate action at around $2 billion per year (in present term value) until 2050, equivalent to 2% to 3% of cumulative GDP over the same period.

“The report shows that the private sector can lead Ghana’s green growth through areas such as green building, renewable energy, climate-smart agriculture and energy efficiency improvements which IFC is supporting by increasing investment and advisory services to such ventures,” says Kyle F. Kelhofer, IFC’s Senior Regional Manager based in Ghana.

In addition, the authors highlight the role that the financial sector can play to leverage opportunities for green and blue bonds, insurance, and other financial protection mechanisms that can help address climate and disaster risks. Concessional finance and overseas development assistance will also be critical to support public goods measures.

To reduce the impact on the poor, Ghana will need to focus on improving responsive social protection systems and safety nets for vulnerable groups, strengthening financial inclusion, and building skills for new green jobs and livelihoods.

The report shows that taking a climate resilient and low-carbon pathway could turn challenges into opportunities: It delivers more than $26 billion in economic benefits by 2040.

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