Sociology Project Topics

A Critical Assessment of the Sociological Study on Solid Waste Management Practices in the Birim North District, Ghana





Waste has become a global problem owing to growth in its generation, risk it poses to the environment, human life and cost of its treatment. United Nations Environment Programmes (UNEP, 2009) projected worldwide trash output in 2006 at 2.02 billion tonnes indicating seven percent growth of total global waste created in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Currently, an estimated 11.2 billion tonnes of solid garbage is collected yearly (UNEP, 2014). This massive growth in trash output is attributable to modernization of the world economy (UNEP, 2014). If this statistic is anything to go by, then it is five times the figure the same group provided approximately eight to nine years ago and because experts place trash creation rate above collection rate waste created globally can be predicted above this figure. In terms of geographical distribution, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates that industrialized countries create from 500 to 750 kg of solid trash yearly per person. For instance, Denmark and United States of America (USA) create 520 to 730 kilos of solid trash correspondingly per person per annum (OECD, 1997 quoted in Taylor & Allen, 2006). Asia produces an estimated 760,000 tonnes of municipal solid garbage everyday (World Bank, 1999). Sub-Saharan African nations create roughly 62 million tonnes of trash each year (World Bank, 2012). Comparisons of the above mentioned figures without recourse to differences in time even make Africa the lowest waste generator among the other continents and one of the reasons responsible for this phenomenon could be attributed to the continent’s [Africa] low resource consumption even though many of the raw materials are extracted from the continent. In Ghana, the five major cities such as; Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, Tamale and Tema produce about 3,200 tonnes of solid waste per day (Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate, 2010) and other 105 urban towns generate about 5,000 tonnes of waste daily. Accra with estimated population of 3,900,000 produces about 2,000 tonnes of solid garbage every day (Annepu & Themelis, 2013).

Approximately, 75 percent of this garbage is collected and disposed of in the Achimota dumpsite whereas 25 percent is left uncollected (Annepu & Themelis, 2013). A research done by Puopiel (2010) in Tamale Metropolitan Area (TAMA) found that daily trash output in the metropolis amounted to 810 tonnes of which 216 tonnes is collected and 594 tonnes is left uncollected.

Once trash is a function of urbanization, population expansion and economic activities waste generation in Ghana is anticipated to increase since population in cities in Ghana is rising and also more and more communities are rapidly becoming urbanized.

Globally, the expense of garbage disposal is having a tremendous toll on public wallets. For instance, local authorities spend about 205.4 billion dollars annually on trash management (World Bank, 2012). This amount is projected to rise to around 375.5 billion USD in the coming decade (World Bank, 2012). Asian countries create around 760,000 tonnes of trash everyday and spend about 25 billion dollars yearly to handle it (World Bank, 1999). By the year 2025 the amount of money spent on waste management in Asia will have exceeded 50 billion dollars since by that time daily garbage output in the region would have reached over 1.8 billion tonnes (World Bank, 1999). Locally, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) spent around 82 percent of its 2008 annual budget on trash management and in 2013 waste management cost it about 3.45 million dollars (Annepu & Themelis, 2013). Also, in 2009 the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly (TAMA) spent 42.8 percent of its total revenue on trash management (Puopiel, 2010).


One would have thought that with these efforts in waste management the waste issue would be significantly decreased if not eliminated and cities in Ghana should have been cleaner for other metropolitan areas and villages to follow their examples to limit the harmful effect of trash. However, the reality is that filth has engulfed Ghana, especially poor and densely populated areas and one of the consequences is the June 2014 cholera outbreak in the country which killed 110 people out of the 12,622 cases recorded (the Ghana Health Service, Disease Surveillance Department, 2014). Once trash management has proven to be a daunting challenge in the country in spite of efforts to contain it, identification of certain traditional waste management techniques may aid in our efforts to solve the problem. In many traditional Ghanaian societies, especially places without electricity, bedrooms are not swept in the night and even if they are swept the waste is not disposed of till morning because it is believed that one may sweep his or her valuable or expensive personal belongings in addition to the waste.

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Sight of uncollected garbage overflowing huge containers at central community waste collection sites waiting to be transferred to landfills or dumpsite is quite prevalent in impoverished urban areas (Kwame, 2010). Not only do flies hover around these wastes but also an overwhelming odor emerges from them causing difficulties to residents and passers-by. Dumping of garbage indiscriminately into storm and sewage drains, open areas and uncontrolled burning are also widespread activities in many regions of Ghana (Alhassan, Gabby, Arguello & Boakye-Boaten, 2010; Kwame, 2010; Puopiel, 2010; Annepu & Themelis, 2013).

A research conducted by Spencer (2012) at Prampram, a peri-urban region of the Accra Metropolitan Area found that 61 percent of the people publicly defecate when nature calls and 50 percent were not satisfied about the sanitary status of their homes. Much of the literature examined refers to these facts and it seems conclusions of most environmental studies in Ghana write about the very same facts (Wienaah, 2007; Fredua, 2014; Yintii, Anim-Gyampo & Braimah, 2014) Residents’ inability to pay for user fees of door to door garbage collection services, substandard services provided by the entities responsible for trash management and insufficient financing and delay in payment by the assemblies to private trash contractors are some of the causes responsible for indiscriminate rubbish burning and dumping in various regions of urban Ghana (Puopiel, 2010; Annepu & Themelis, 2013). One of the issues that has worsened the situation is the spacing central common containers and some residences. Alhassan et al (2010) assessed the distance between certain residences and central containers in the Accra Metropolis at 450-500 meters. However, the highest restriction specified by AMA is 150 meters (Alhassan et al, 2010). (Alhassan et al, 2010). Thus it is a normal habit for some households to go great distances before reaching a nearby core container.


The main objective of this study is to explore factors resulting in poor domestic solid waste management practices in the Birim North District and suggest ways to resolve them. Thus, the following objectives;

1. To investigate the waste management practices of Birim North District.

2. To assess residents’ involvement in the Assembly’s waste management formulation and implementation policies.

3. To explore effects of indiscriminate waste dumping and burning practices on social relations in the study area.


The following questions guide this study;

1. What are the waste management practices of Birim North District?

2. What is the level of residents’ involvement in the Assembly’s waste management formulation and implementation policies?

3. What are the effects of indiscriminate waste dumping and burning practices on social relations in the study area?


The immigration into Birim North District, particularly the mining sector, has resulted in population growth since foreign corporations began gold prospecting in the area in 1997, as have the operations of local small-scale miners (especially in the mining communities). In terms of infrastructure development and indigenes’ lifestyle, the mining villages in the District are rapidly becoming urbanized. Local major banks, such as Ecobank and Barclays Bank, as well as some rural banks, have built branches in Akim Afosu and New Abirem In the region, there are hotels of different types (some with features such as a heliport, golf course, and swimming pool). Pubs, supermarkets and eateries have also proliferated.

Furthermore, the study will add to current information in the field of trash management, which will benefit other waste researchers and policymakers trying to cleanse our communities of filth.


This study will only cover the factors resulting in poor domestic solid waste management practices in the Birim North District. Only the Birim North district will be studied, all other districts are not included.


During the course of this study, the researcher was faced with insufficient funds and not enough time to delve deeper into this research.


1. WASTE: A material or substance regarded is being no longer useful after the completion of a process.

2. WASTE MANAGEMENT: The actions and dealings necessary to handle waste from its origin to its final dumping. In this study, it involves managing waste and ensuring its proper disposal from production to consumption.

3. SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT: Solid-waste management, the collecting, treating, and disposing of solid material that is discarded because it has served its purpose or is no longer useful



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