The Zero Waste Strategy: Ghana

The waste management challenge in Ghana, like across many sub-Saharan African countries, remains uphill. Africa is the fastest urbanizing region in the world and this has come with many positives for the region in the shape of access to socio-economic opportunities including education, health care, and jobs. However, it is also clear to see the challenges that are emerging as a result of the uncontrolled nature of Africa’s urbanization. City authorities in Ghana are struggling to keep up with the pace of urban expansion. This is evident in the inability to render sustainable waste management services across cities, a challenge that has diverse implications for our population and natural environment. Waste management is an issue that traverses the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of the country and finding a lasting solution is critical now more than ever. 

A zero waste approach to waste management in Ghana at this moment is plausible in a lot of ways. Zero waste as a concept cannot be decoupled from sustainable development. It is at the center of job creation, climate action, and environmental justice. Zero waste opens up the waste management sector to jobs in waste collection, waste sorting, waste recycling, the production of green goods and services and many more. The fact that the concept is premised on reducing, reusing, and recycling waste implies that environmental conservation and sustainable resource exploitation could be deepened. Furthermore, sustainable development cannot be robust without equitability. This is why the inclusion of especially informal waste workers in Ghana, who despite their contribution, are seen as a nuisance, in the governance of waste management is important at this time. 

As a youth-led non-profit in the waste management and environmental sustainability sector in Ghana, Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO) has worked with several local assemblies and stakeholders in the sector over the past few years. This has enabled us to gain a thorough understanding of the waste management problem in the country as well as identify the many opportunities that exist in terms of job creation for youth and women and sound environmental management, among others. Our Sustainable Communities Project which was piloted in New Edubiase and has since been replicated in communities in Cape Coast, Kumasi, and Accra are key reference points in this regard.

It is therefore our pride to outdoor this document, The Zero Waste Strategy: Ghana. The document outlines what zero waste is, and demonstrates how it can be implemented in municipalities and communities across Ghana with many case studies of good practices and examples. This strategy document was developed through a painstaking process that involved the engagement of over 200 different stakeholders in the waste management sector from diverse levels and sectors in Ghana as well as a synthesis of literature on the topic. 

The document was developed with municipal officers, policymakers, community leaders, and waste management workers in mind. However, it is equally useful for anybody who wants to understand the waste management architecture in Ghana, the gaps that remain, and how the zero waste approach could help to achieve a sustainable waste management system. The document is easy to comprehend and use and is recommended for municipalities in Ghana and beyond in sub-Saharan Africa.

We are hopeful that The Zero Waste Strategy: Ghana strategy document will be useful for your community as you advance towards zero waste.