Mr Akwasi Opong-Fosu, Minister of the Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), said MESTI was promoting the need to adopt environmentally sound technology, to capture and utilize the landfill gas on site, as the answer to the threat to public health and safety for residents in the cities.
He said the Ministry would also promote and encourage the polluter-pays principle, which requires all producers of waste to be legally and financially responsible for the safe and environmentally sound disposal of waste they produce.
Mr Opong-Fosu revealed this at the Eighth Week Launch and Public Lecture of the Geography Students Association of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi.
The theme for the occasion was: “Waste Management and Environmental Sustainability in Ghana”: The Role of the Geographers.”
He said waste management is a shared responsibility, and that geography students are no exception, and can apply their skills in diverse ways to solve waste management problems to create safe environment for the future generation.
Mr Opong-Fosu said the rapid increase in the number of people living in cities will create sanitation problems, and the rate of urbanization has outpaced the ability of governments to provide essential sanitation services.
He disclosed that MESTI has come up with a number of initiatives, in collaboration with its key stakeholders, and has started a process to develop standards to better manage the waste and sanitation sector, and that the standards will strengthen the enforcement function of most of the country institutions that deal with waste management.
Mr Opong-Fosu said the MESTI will implement a vigorous public accountability programme dubbed: “Citizens Driven Environmental Accountability,” to strengthen citizens' demand for better environmental management and service delivery.
Mr Opong-Fosu said Geographers can conduct research into viable ways of managing waste and discovery of new and better methods of handling waste, especially solid waste which will be a great benefit to the nation.
He said Geographers can also research adequately on how to adopt the use of Geographic Information Systems, Satellite imagery, and other remote sensing techniques on effective Collection, Transport and Disposal Facilities for waste, and also, the transition from the traditional system of non-compliant landfills to an integrated waste management system which is highly recommended.
Mr Opong-Fosu who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Amenfi East in the Western Region, entreated the Association to embark on a community sensitization on proper waste management practices.
“Education does not end in the classroom, as students, you must create awareness of the health and environmental impact of poor waste management practices at the community level,” he advised them.
The MP said the National Sanitation Day Campaign initiative which is a novelty under President John Dramani Mahama's Government, is another role students should participate actively.
He said the exercise is to help mobilize community members to take responsibility for creating a healthy environment, and awaken the spirit of communal labour among members and a sense of patriotism in Ghanaians.
Mr Opong-Fosu encouraged Ghanaians to come on board in finding solutions to Ghana’s waste problems for effective management and sustenance of Ghana’s environment and the world at large.
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