Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Ghana again to follow up on environmental initiatives we are working on at Centric, the research organisation I founded. During my time there, I witnessed the devastating impact of environmental issues, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, plus the effects of historical colonial legacies. However, amidst the challenges, I also witnessed the resilience of the Ghanaian people and the transformative power of collaboration and partnerships.
Colonialism, Environmental Challenges and the Impact of COVID-19
When exploring the environmental issues in Ghana, it's clearly evident the legacy of colonialism played an even more significant role than what most realise. The historical exploitation of Ghana's natural resources during the colonial period left a lasting impact on the country's environment. The extraction-focused approach, often devoid of sustainable practices, led to deforestation, soil erosion and pollution of water bodies. Additionally, the colonial infrastructure neglected local communities, resulting in inadequate waste management systems that continue to pose challenges today.
Ghana, like many other countries, has been grappling with these environmental challenges that have far-reaching consequences for public health and the overall well-being of communities. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic only intensified these challenges, exacerbating air pollution and straining waste management systems as healthcare facilities and individuals had to deal with increased medical waste. It was disheartening to see how the already vulnerable environmental conditions in Ghana were further deteriorated due to the pandemic.
Research-Driven Activities and Partnerships for Environmental and Social Impact
At Centric, we are driven by an action-based approach, operating with a spirit of generosity and leading by example to inspire individuals and other organisations to address environmental and social issues impacting communities. Our activities are informed by our disruptive approach to research, which aims to create impactful positive change in society. Through our work, we strive to empower individuals, foster collaboration and contribute to a more sustainable and equitable future.
This kind of action-based approach led us to the beach cleanup initiative in Ghana. By collaborating with local community leaders and businesses, we were able to make a tangible impact. During my trip, the provision of meals to 60 workers engaged in various projects not only helped sustain their efforts but, also fostered a sense of solidarity and appreciation for their invaluable work. Distributing T-shirts to community leaders served as a symbol of recognition, creating a stronger bond and reinforcing their commitment to environmental stewardship.
The support and partnerships we cultivated during the trip were truly remarkable. Local businesses, inspired by our collective efforts, stepped forward to offer additional support, recognising the importance of environmental preservation. One notable collaboration emerged with the Swedish Chamber of Commerce, an exciting development that opens doors for future initiatives. These partnerships, and increased community support, provide a solid foundation for the expansion of environmental and social projects like the community cleaning of beaches in exchange for rewards, and the use of emerging technologies like Web3 to do so.
Hope, Building a Global Movement and the Power of Incentives
This recent trip to Ghana was both inspiring and educational. I was moved by the unwavering positive outlook and hope for a better life and improved living conditions among the local community. Despite the environmental challenges they face, there is a strong belief that change is possible and this hope serves as a powerful driving force for transformation.
This realisation reinforces the need to build a global movement around the intersections of research extraction, environmentalism and equity. Centric, my organisation, has already initiated impactful efforts in South London and the Global South, employing community researchers in various regions. However, it has become apparent that more extensive support and collaboration are necessary to address these complex challenges effectively.
Initiatives like the community beach cleaning in exchange for rewards resonate deeply within locals and find support from government officials, schools and other stakeholders. The promotion of job and wealth creation through incentives strikes a chord, as it provides tangible benefits to individuals and communities. Reward schemes, not necessarily limited to cash, have proven to be effective motivators for active participation and engagement.
Furthermore, my trip allowed me to test aspects of Web3 technology for community organisations specifically related to waste collection. This validated key hypotheses of the clean beaches project, indicating the potential of utilising emerging technologies to enhance community-driven initiatives. However, it also highlighted the importance of further education and awareness around cryptocurrencies and the deployment of new technologies in Ghana. Building a solid understanding and knowledge base in these areas will be crucial for successful implementation and widespread adoption.
My journey to Ghana was an eye-opening experience that highlighted the urgent need to address environmental challenges and the resilience of the Ghanaian people in the face of adversity. While the devastating impact of environmental issues and colonial legacies persists, the power of collaboration and partnerships demonstrated its potential to effect positive change.
By nurturing these partnerships and harnessing the support of local communities and businesses, we can create more initiatives that empower individuals to actively participate in environmental preservation. By engaging local communities and businesses, collaborating with external partners, and leveraging innovative approaches and technologies, we can pave the way for a sustainable future.
May 19th 2023
Dr Shaun Danquah & Paul Addae -Read More
May 19th 2023
DR SHAUN DANQUAH - DIRECTORRead More