Printer Friendly

Culture of waste handling: experience of a rural community.


WASTE(1) HANDLING is one of the greatest challenges facing humankind in modern times in spite of the numerous technological achievements that have been well documented. Technology alone has not been able to effectively control waste generated in communities worldwide. Rather, it appears that new technologies bring new types of waste into the environment to add on to the complex waste accumulation puzzle.

Attempts to reduce waste accumulation in First World countries have relied mostly on landfill which seems to be relatively less expensive than other options in disposing greater proportions of waste produced. Recent experiences of issues associated with landfill however, raise doubt whether the extent landfill has been relied on may provide a solution to waste accumulation control in rapidly growing communities.

Landfill space competes with sites for development, and the recent slogan "Not in my back yard" used by communities add on to unfavourable pressures on designation of landfill sites for waste disposal in First World countries. Sites, where available, are now procured far away from human dwellings, and invariably, expensive to operate. In addition to the cost of construction and managing landfill sites, is transportation cost for carting garbage to disposal sites. For instance, it was reported in 1987 (International Environment Reporter, 10 September 1986) that by 1996, half of the 15 million tonnes of waste generated annually in the greater London area would be transported more than 64 kilometres to be dumped as all dumping sites near London would be full by then. This development when effected would invariably affect transportation cost, among other costs, substantially and consequently, waste disposal cost.

There has also been ever increasing warning that countries like the United States of America (USA) may run out of landfill space in the near future because of the number of landfills that are closed resulting from ever mounting refuse that is generated. The United States of America produces about 180 million tonnes of solid waste of which 70% goes into landfill. But this 70%, according to Lodge and Rayport (1991: 132), has already exhausted more than two-thirds of the landfill spaces, and New York only, in four years, closed two hundred of its five hundred landfills.

Mounting accumulation of waste is not limited to the First World alone. Third World countries of which West African countries are no exception, are equally baffled with effective control of waste in the urban centres that have chronic rapid growth in population. The rate of growth of Lagos metropolis for instance is about 9.6 percent per annum (Adedibu and Okekunle, 1989: 93). Of course the 9.6 percent per annum may not be for rural-urban migration alone yet rural-urban migration plays a vital role in the rapid growth in population in the urban centres. This rapid growth in population in the urban cities has been influenced greatly by deterioration in the economy of these countries, coupled with the fact that social amenities are non-existent in the rural areas. The few social amenities available to these countries are concentrated in the urban centres. People move from rural areas to urban centres with the assumption of improving their social and economic situations. Obviously, continuous increase in population density without effective means for waste handling inevitably goes with uncontrolled waste accumulation.

The "Not in my back yard" slogan used in many First World countries has not caught up in West Africa. Members of communities in the region, in many situations, do not show sharp negative attitudes when refuse disposal sites are sited near to their houses as is observed in Accra, Ghana, where immediate outskirts of residential areas have been used formally for the disposal of waste. Again, in the same Accra, the city council burns domestic waste openly without proper incinerators but members of the community accept it unquestionably. Therefore, site allocation for landfill space may not be a major hindrance to improvement in waste handling in many of the urban centres in Ghana for instance. One of the problems cited by reports for waste accumulation appear to be lack of structures to move the waste to the "designated disposal sites." Where government has means of transportation to carry waste to disposal sites, more often than not, it proves to be grossly inadequate and inefficient. This does not mean that efforts are not made by even international bodies to help improve the insanitary situation. Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly received equipment worth 1.22m[pounds] between 1991 and 1992 under a British government grant towards the re-organization of the metropolis' solid waste management (West Africa, 7-13 January 1991: 3162). Tambacounda region in Senegal, received CFA200bn from the French government in 1990 for the improvement of sanitation (West Africa, 20-26 August 1990: 2323) just to mention two cases.

Urbanization as stated earlier is said to have made sites for waste disposal found distances away from the city centres. The distance covered per trip to dispose waste reduces the number of trips a vehicle could undertake. And since these vehicles are few in Lagos for instance, the effective operation in the city is generally adversely affected. The refuse in the city then accumulates faster than it is removed. Adedibu and Okekunle (1989: 91) describe Lagos city as perhaps the "dirtiest" capital in the world and they explain that it

... is because in most parts of the city streets are partially or wholly

blocked by solid waste. Similarly, open spaces, market places, car parks

and many other public places are littered with solid waste. In most cases

drains are clogged or totally blocked and many compounds are

hemmed in by solid waste.

Though the description above seems to be in contrast with reality at a farm camp, Asantan, near Ondo in Ondo State, Nigeria. There is only one street at Asantan with all the twenty houses lining it on both sides, but no domestic solid waste is found on the street let alone the street being blocked by rubbish. Domestic solid waste found on the street sometimes is oil palm kernel shells used to fill pot-holes by individuals who happen to crack some. Shells of oil palm kernels do not decay easily and so used as substitute for gravels. The domestic refuse is found at specific designated sites at the outskirts of the camp, though not properly organized like that of a rural community in Ghana which will be discussed later. At least once a year, the rubbish dumps at the outskirts are burnt by "bush fire."

Apparently, to waste managers in West Africa, waste management is synonymous with waste collection and disposal with disregard to other waste handling options. Attempts to improve sanitation in urban centres have all focused on waste collection and disposal. But history has shown that concentration on waste collection and disposal only in waste management has not helped any city or any dense population as urban centres in West Africa are. It is on record that when Paris, France, for instance, relied on waste collection and disposal only, it almost became choked with rubbish (Corbin, 1986: 114). This event remedied itself when Parisian society changed its perceptions and attitudes to waste. Refuse came to be regarded as useful and beneficial to society (Mille, in Corbin, 1986: 114) and so was treated and used to the benefit of the society. It is also on record that change in perceptions and attitudes to waste helped Melbourne, Australia, overcome its waste accumulation problem. At one stage, the City Council had to treat waste and sell it to residents (Cannon, 1975: 160). This measure helped to alleviate the waste accumulation problem and, at the same time, brought in revenue.

It need be appreciated at this point that outcry for proper sanitary conditions at urban centres in West Africa has not been in Nigeria and Ghana alone. All the countries in the region are equally affected.

This paper attempts to generate discussion on waste handling in urban centres especially in West African regions where uncontrolled waste accumulation may have a deleterious effect on drinking water and health in general but where neither good quality potable water nor health facilities are accessible to many. Waste accumulation in file urban centres as stated earlier has, to a large extent, been attributed to rural-urban migration and to throw a ray of light on the issue for further research and discussion, the paper looks into the question of whether rural dwellers have waste handling culture. The paper therefore describes waste handling in a rural community in Ghana where unlike urban centres, there were no local government staff or private agency to collect and dispose waste generated in the community; 1950-1964 covers the period under discussion. The process of study has been through participation, observation and interviews. No written records on waste handling in the community are available. The time period is significant in three ways:

1. It represents 7 years before Ghana gained its independence and 7 years after independence.

2. It also represents the time before mass rural-urban migration in Ghana so all age groups were properly represented in the community.

3. It again represents parts of the rule of two successive chiefs in the town.

The reasons that led to the promulgation of the Health Act (1848) of Britain would be briefly discussed because Health Inspectors from District Head Office (by then Wenchi) visited the community at least once a month for inspection purposes. The inspectors had access to houses to conduct inspection so the Health Act had influence on waste handling in the community but extent of influence will not be assessed by this paper.

The Health Act (1848) of Britain

The Health Act (1848) implemented in Britain to control insanitary conditions has undoubtedly played an influential role in shaping waste management as it currently exists in many urban centres as well as rural areas in a country like Ghana.

The result of uncontrolled waste accumulation and its attended effect on health in communities in Britain during the industrial revolution era made the Health Act (1848), championed by Chadwick, pass in Parliament in Britain without much opposition. During the industrial revolution, people were attracted to industrial centres in the same manner as people currently drift to urban centres in Third World countries. In both cases, the people moved with a view of improving their social and economic situations. Populations in areas where factories were built grew tremendously and because there were no cheap means of transportation available for workers to commute to and from work, a majority of the people settled with their families near the premises of the factories where they worked. The situation inevitably brought huge numbers of people together. Since there were no adequate refuse handling structures in place to control the waste generated, refuse continuously accumulated. Waterways, among other places, were choked with rubbish. The dwellers were from rural areas and had been used to rural setting where waste was handled differently from what would have been required in the densely populated situation. At the countryside, individuals seemingly had had space to keep the waste, and because they resided on their own properties they might have been careful also about what was regarded as waste. At the industrial centres on the other hand, refuse was indiscriminately disposed of and since there were no boundaries to keep the refuse, as perhaps had occurred in the rural areas, the people had to live with the rubbish. High proportions of the refuse were compostable but were not separated from the bulk refuse so it rotted with resultant problems like offensive odors, vermin infestation, and creation of atmosphere for disease causing organisms. Pests, like rodents became common in the communities and some acted as vectors of diseases. "Bubonic plague" for instance was recorded during that period (Cartwright, 1977: 61) and it claimed several lives. Diseases like cholera and typhoid that are associated with insanitary conditions were frequently recorded. In those situations it was claimed that the diseases started from the densely populated areas where insanitary conditions existed and spread to the less insanitary dwellings -- in effect, both the rich and the poor were equal victims and died in their numbers (Cartwright, 1977: 95).

The direct relationship between uncontrolled refuse accumulation and diseases prompted the promulgation of the Health Act (1848) (Cartwright, 1977: 105; Redlich and Hirst, 1970: 144) to control refuse that kept on building up, and hence reduce high incidence of diseases. The success of the Health Act in improving sanitation in communities in Britain, and consequently reducing the incidence of infectious and preventable diseases was tremendous and has been well documented. This success coupled with advancement in waste disposal techniques like refuse disposal trucks and incinerators, greatly influenced waste management in Britain and many other places in the world.

At this point, it need be noted that the Health Act laid emphasis on waste disposal and was considered as the only way to control waste accumulation and hence infectious and preventable diseases. Waste disposal in waste management has therefore remained the main focus of waste management as it exists currently in many urban centres. At the same time, a place like Melbourne after adoption of the Act has in certain circumstances, modified it enabling other waste handling options tried as discussed earlier elsewhere. The Health Act can also be said to have placed much responsibility on local governments who are supposed to clear refuse in communities, and less responsibility on the producers of waste themselves. Apparently, the producer of waste is made to believe that any amount and nature of refuse produced would be collected and disposed of by local government provided a "flat rate of money" is paid. The amount of money paid in this regard does not seem to place direct responsibility on the payer. Unlike the urban areas, in a rural community called Nchiraa in Ghana, between 1950 and 1964, producers of waste were removers of waste. The more waste produced the more load to carry to the disposal site.

Rural Community Waste Handling (1950-1964)

Description of Study Area

The rural community studied is Nchiraa(2) (Figure 1), a small town about 23 kilometres from Wenchi (Administrative District capital) in Brong Ahafo Region, Ghana. It is on a plateau not very high above sea level so the climatic conditions are not much different from the neighbouring towns and villages. The population was about eight hundred and this increased significantly during festive seasons. Appreciable number of people with various ailments frequented the town to consult herbalists. At the time under discussion, rural-urban migration was not intense, so a high proportion of the economically active group remained in the town to engage in farming. All were peasant farmers concentrating on crop production. Even traders residing in the town were part-time farmers.

Only few couples stayed together in the same house, the others stayed separately in extended family Ashanti-type compound houses(3). Children were usually with their mothers but at a certain age, the male associated more with the father.

The layout of Nchiraa town was as shown in Figure 2. There were mainly four wards namely: Dwomour with 42 Ashanti-type compound houses; Interma 27; Pramaso 38; and Twiesinase 27. The main streets that separated the wards were about t3 metres wide with "neem" trees planted in the middle giving the appearance of a dual carriageway. Within the wards were streets of about 3 metres wide that separated one Ashanti-type compound house from the other.

There were two market places (only separated by the main north-south street) on the east-west main street. No permanent market stalls were at the market places. Tables and chairs used in the market were carried to the place by individuals from their houses to display their wares. Dwomour and Interma sellers occupied the eastern market place whilst Pramaso and Twiesinase occupied the western one. Potential sellers were restricted to the allocated sites but potential buyers were free to move from one market place to the other for the best bargain. People from Wenchi and nearby villages came to the town regularly to buy and sell.

A river and two springs were the main sources of water for domestic use. The river in the east was about 2 kilometres away from the town whilst the two springs, one situated in the south and the other in the west, were about 1 1/2 kilometres each from the town.

The town was ruled by Ohene (Chief chosen from the royal family. He was assisted by Ohemaa (queen mother), subchiefs and elders of the town. Ohemaa, the head of the women is the mother (through extended family relations) of Ohene and though Ohene regards her as the mother, he has control over her. Just like Ohene the Ohemaa has divisional authorities under her in the wards.

At Nchiraa, residential area was a distance away from the farms and it was here that all the people stayed. Farms were found in all directions. Despite spaces around houses, there were no weeds or ornamental plants around the houses. Households weeded and swept around their houses. Refuse generated within the community could not be dumped illegally without being caught.

Waste Separation

Materials considered as waste and sent to the refuse disposal site at that time were mostly putrescibles and items like metal or wooden structures considered to have no potential use again.

Though there were no fences to separate grounds used by women living in the same Ashanti-type compound house, some of which housed four married women with their children, each woman knew her refuse. It should be noted at this stage that one who produced refuse at a public place like the "market place" was responsible for the waste. During the period under discussion, plastics were virtually non-existent in the community so specific leaves of plants were utilized for wrapping items like meat, kenkey and "take aways" in general. There were members in the community who dealt in the "leaves" and derived their living from selling the leaves to sellers of items that required their use. However, it became the responsibility of sellers of items that made use of the "leaves" to warn their customers not to litter. In a situation where the item was consumed immediately, the leaves were collected back for safe disposal. On the other hand, if the leaves were littered, sellers of items that made use of the leaves were held responsible for the litter.

Obviously, the term "waste" is relative because an item may be regarded as "waste" to one person but not the other. However, an individual who sent an item not regarded by many as waste to the disposal site was strongly criticized. Therefore, before an item was sent to the disposal site, it was apparently scrutinized by many.

Waste separation occured at two levels:

(i) Waste separation by children: Up to the late 1960s, only few children in the locality owned materials (toys) that could be played with bought from shops. Children depended on their ingenuity, that of older brothers and sisters, and playmates in general for the materials (toys) they played with so any item to be thrown away from a house was critically assessed by the children in the house for its potential for making a "play object." Children sometimes consulted other children for their views before an item (putrescibles included) was finally released into the waste bin. An item removed by a child was supposed to be used within about three days after which, unless a child hid it properly from view, it was considered as having no potential use and so be thrown away. Children were not allowed to retain items suspected of posing danger or nuisance to society. Such items were buried from view, burnt, or made harmless and disposed off at the disposal site immediately.

(ii) Waste separation by adults: At adult level, peelings from some fresh foodstuffs for instance were not added to the bulk refuse. Peelings from cassava were separated from the bulk refuse and sent back to farm to develop "mushroom farm." Plantain peelings were separated, dried and used to produce soap for washing and bathing purposes.

The blacksmith in the town was good at mending materials and making new items from metal scraps so any metallic substance to be thrown away was critically assessed by individuals for its potential use by the blacksmith. Some of the scraps sent to the blacksmith were paid for not in cash but the blacksmith made one or two items for the person and sold the rest. Or, sold the produced item(s) to the person who brought the scrap at a reduced price. The blacksmith again received shells of oil palm kernels from members of the community to use as fuel.

In general, it was not uncommon to find a member of the community collecting material from another so that a particular item did not get to the waste disposal site.

Paper and paper products in the refuse were limited and had their use and were separated from the bulk refuse wherever they were found. In some cases, the paper products were finally used as toilet paper.

Bottles also were not many and were separated and used for preservation of honey, palmoil, palm kernel oil, preparations from herbal medicines, and seeds of certain plants like rice (preserved for cultivation), just to mention a few.

Footwear for farming purposes was made from rubber tire so when an old rubber tire was found, it was sent to the cobbler.

Refuse that finally reached the disposal site was therefore considered to be without potential use and need be allowed to rot away if putrescible, or corrode away.

Refuse Handling: Female Duty

Handling of refuse was strictly for the female. Even boys seldom touched the broom used for sweeping the compound. A broom is a collection of midribs of leaflets of oil palm fronds. A woman may have one to three brooms in various stages of usage. Boys were made to believe that if the tip of a broom, especially one that had been used for some period of time, touched any of them, that boy was likely to become impotent. Impotency was a dread in the society. A boy who was accidentally touched with a broom had to step on it immediately to neutralize its effect. Generally girls were assumed not to be physically strong as boys so they could be bullied by their brothers. In such situations a girl could use the broom as a defence. Once a girl held a broom, no boy ventured to disturb her.

There have been several arguments advanced for female refuse handling exclusivity some of which are as follows:

(i) The institution of marriage was respected and encouraged and division of labour between the sexes in daily economic and social activities seemed to be one way of enforcing marriage. Daring activities and, especially activities thought to involve much risk of hurting oneself or leading to death, were assigned to male whilst activities considered to carry less risk were for the female. Domestic activities like cooking, fetching water from the stream, and keeping the compound clean were assumed to carry less risk and so for the female. Activities like hunting for game for the family, felling of trees, clearing new plot for farming purposes, and construction of houses were assumed to involve a high amount of risk of hurting, or even dying in the process and so was for the male. A male who carried refuse was therefore scorned and his manhood questioned. The female therefore did not allow male participation in refuse disposal issues.

(ii) Type of food prepared, to some extent, determined quantity and type of refuse produced at home. Obviously, the female members controlled eating habits of families because male members were not allowed by society into the kitchen unless for specific momentary activity requiring strength. It was unethical for a man to prepare food in the kitchen. The kitchen was for the woman. Therefore the woman who produced the refuse found means of disposing it.

(iii) The man was most of the time out of the house and, in effect, produced the least amount of refuse as compared to other members of the family and so was not bothered with its disposal. The society placed much value on a man who could feed his immediate family and had excess to give to members of the extended family as well as sell. To achieve this, the man was supposed to be at farm before sunrise and return home at sunset.

(iv) Children in the house usually wanted to play with items that had potential of producing waste and since the woman who had to dispose refuse generated was almost always with the children she could control them and the waste they produced. Hence she could control the tidiness of the compound and the amount of refuse for disposal.

(v) The refuse disposal site was where the women used as a toilet place. Toilet was thrown on the refuse heap after a woman had released herself on a suitable material. Toilet was not left on the ground but on the refuse heap. It was considered unacceptable for male to see the nakedness of a woman who was not the wife so the male could not share the disposal site with the female.

Refuse Disposal Site and Refuse Disposal

Domestic refuse disposal was strictly for the female members of a household as stated earlier. When a need arose for a refuse disposal site, women in that particular ward met together and identified a site before informing the Ohemaa's divisional authority in that ward who in turn contacted the Ohemaa. Though Ohene was the trustee of all the land, each of the many "extended families" had its portion. So Ohemaa had to contact the head of the family that had the proposed disposal site on its land for its release before informing the Ohene for his final approval. A clearing was made at the site and a footpath of about two metres wide was constructed to the site. The refuse disposal sites in use at the time under discussion were about 150-200 metres away from the last residential building. A date was then set for the commencement of the use of the site. From that date onwards male were prohibited from going near the place.

Females saw to it that the house and immediate surroundings were clean and so had the right to question any member of the family or outsider who tended to produce unnecessary refuse in the compound. Creativity amongst children for instance was appreciated and encouraged. Children could go to the bush to collect stems, roots and leaves, and send these home for the production of various items like baskets some of which were sold to generate income for the family but refuse that resulted was questioned. Where it was possible, before the raw materials were sent home, they were processed up to some extent to reduce the amount of waste it generated in the house.

Incidentally, old abandoned baskets were used for the conveyance of refuse to the disposal site. Such baskets could not carry a heavy load, at the same time, no woman wanted to go to the disposal site twice in the morning for instance so they complained when much refuse was being produced in the house. Women avoided littering at the disposal site as much as possible though no fences were built around the refuse heap. The litter aspect was one of the reasons why children under about eight years of age were not sent to the site alone with refuse without supervision. Because the site was far away from the residential area, it was feared that a child sent with refuse to the site might not reach the disposal site as expected before dumping the waste, or not be strong enough to throw the refuse high up the heap. The women were obliged to keep the site tidy for Ohemaa took them to task if it was reported that the women kept the place untidy. Any woman who allowed her child under age to the site without proper supervision was also reprimanded by the Ohemaa. Girls of about eight years onwards could carry refuse to the site without supervision. In that situation, it was left to the mother to let the girl know the behaviour to be adopted at the site. Of course, a child at that age might have got the message clear of what to take to the site and that nothing was to be carried back home except the refuse disposal basket.

The site was isolated in such a way that any child who strayed to the area was easily detected and punished by the mother. Folklores that placed emphasis on the effects of food that grew on the rubbish heap on human body were usually told to the children. Generally, crops that grew on the rubbish heap developed faster and larger than those grown in the farms. This sort of plant growth was considered abnormal. It was felt that the plant in that situation lost or gained some vital ingredients which made it abnormal. There were some of the folklores which related how children who ate such crops developed abnormalities. There was also an accepted normal body growth rate to the community and a child who developed in body stature faster than what was considered normal was suspicious of being ill, or developing into an "idiot." The assumption was that the brain and body development needed be in harmony. If the body developed faster than what was considered normal, then, it was assumed it had occured perhaps at the expense of brain development resulting in underdeveloped brain.

Again, some of the folklores recounted series of symptoms of diseases that had attacked children who disobeyed their parents to play on rubbish heap. Fear of the diseases compelled children to report any playmate who attempted to visit the rubbish heap either in sheer curiosity or to pick an item for play. Also, children associated some items with rubbish heap and so would not like to play with such items.

Another point worthy of note is the time of the day when women visited the refuse disposal site. Actually, it was not compulsory for the women to visit the site at specific times but because of economic and social demands, their visits became routine. Women usually visited the site between 5:30 and 8:00 in the morning and between 5:00 and 7:30 in the evening. One seldom saw women on the path to the site after these hours. The short time intervals had many advantages amongst which are:

(i) the women could get together easily, hold discussions and make decisions over issues such as when to clear the path that led to the site. Or, to decide from time to time where exactly on the site was suitable for the rubbish heap so that when rain fell it did not carry it away;

(ii) it offered a way to check on one another for keeping the place tidy;

(iii) it prevented members from other areas in the community from using the site though it had no gate and so could not be put under lock and key. A woman visitor to the community was shown the disposal site by the host and any necessary information as regards how the place and path are kept given. Since most of-the women were peasant farmers, during periods of intense farming activities they met less frequently to tidy up the place other than that, at least every week, they met once to tidy the place.

Because of possible smoke disturbance to the community, the rubbish heap was not deliberately burnt. Usually, it was burnt about once a year by "bush fire."

Public Toilets

Unlike the female, the male had four public toilets (one in each ward) apart from five private ones. Three schools (two primary and one middle) each had its toilet facilities for both sexes. Walls were built around them and were also thatched. A public toilet was basically an excavation of about six metres long by two metres wide by ten metres deep. The hole was covered with planks of wood with small spaces left in between. It was thatched. Unlike toilets in the schools, the walls were not to roof level but about one metre tall. Male public toilet was constructed through "communal labour" by men in a ward. Tangible excuses were accepted for one to be absent other than that any person who absented himself was made to understand that he would not be allowed use of the place himself, his children or his visitors. Boys attended to tidiness of the toilet place every Sunday morning. By 5:30 in the morning they had gathered weeding and sweeping the place. They tried to finish before early users arrived. Boys who failed to report but were not ill were punished by the boys accordingly. Each ward had one young man put in charge of cleaning the toilet place. A boy who proved stubborn to the boys was reported to the young man for appropriate action.

In the early 1960s women drew the attention of the men to the unfairness in not providing them with toilet building. It took some years before the men could overcome their prejudices to provide them with toilets, in the late 1960s.

Potential Dangers the Site Posed to Children

Community members, especially parents, did not want children to go to the disposal site without supervision because there were some potential dangers that refuse disposal sites were thought to pose to children in particular. Parents thought that:

(i) material, including human feces, in a state of decay might have served as a potential breeding place for disease causing organisms or vectors. Children playing in such environments or playing with articles from such a place could have exposed themselves to diseases. Also, children after playing with the articles might not have washed their hands properly before eating with their hands and this might have been dangerous to their health.

(ii) insects and rodents resided on the site because of the refuse. The site therefore served as a potential place for snakes that preyed on the rodents and insects. Some of the snakes might have been dangerous, and a child not knowing the difference between a snake and stick might have picked up the snake and got bitten. Or, a child might have taken a snake as a play object and went after it if there were no older persons around to warn them.

(iii) the heap might have had higher temperature than normal and also it might have been soft and penetrable. A child attracted by an object at the top of the heap in an attempt to reach it might have got drawn deep into the hot material. In such a situation, it would be very difficult for the child to get out if there were no older persons to assist.


The paper has shown that amongst people of Nchiraa (1950-1964) refuse disposal belonged solely to the female as a result the male had least to do with it. This was the development because the society had grouped social, economic and political activities under "female" and "male" activities. Male had least to do with refuse disposal not because of how he viewed refuse but that it happened to be under what was termed "female activities." Perceptions and attitudes ingrained in adults through folklores, and observations and participation from infancy, that refuse disposal was for the female made it difficult for the male to accept that he could help in refuse disposal. It was a demeaning chore that challenged one's manhood.

Though unwritten, there seemed to have been mutually agreed upon procedures for the handling of waste in the community. Litter for instance was avoided as much as possible on the streets, public places, and even at the disposal site. In the "bush" materials abound which if sent home served as "play objects" for children but few were sent to the residential area in order to limit refuse generated. Waste is a relative term so material considered by one individual as waste was transferred to another who had use for it.

Apparently, social, political and economic activities influenced waste handling in the community significantly.

In the ever increasing populations in West Africa, there is the need for much research to enable review of policies, and development of appropriate educational programmes which would involve community members in waste handling to help alleviate present levels of waste accumulation.


(1) Waste is interchangeable with Refuse and Rubbish in this context. (2) Nchiraa previously spelt Nkyeraa. (3) Ashanti-type compound house in this context is made up of about nine bedrooms with shared facilities like kitchen and bathroom.


Adedibu, A. A., and Okekunle, A. A. 1989 "Issues in the Environmental Sanitation of Lagos Mainland, Nigeria", The Environmentalist, Vol. 9, No. 2 (1989), p. 91-100.

Cannon, M. 1975 Life in the Cities: Australia in the Victorian Age: 3. Thomas Nelson Australia Ltd, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd, London, Ontario. p. 160.

Cartwright, F. F. 1977 A Social History of Medicine, Longman Inc. London, New York.

Corbin, A. 1986 The Foul and the Fragrant, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, p. 114.

Editor (20-26 August, 1990) 1990 "French Health Package," West Africa, 20-26 August, 1990, p. 2323.

Editor (7-13 January, 1991) 1991 "Managing Kumasi's Waste," West Africa, 7-13 January, 1991, p. 3162.

INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT REPORTER (10 September, 1986) 1987 "Garbage pile-up looms for London," in UNEP News, January/February, 1987, No. 13 Supplement 4.

Lodge, C. G., and Rayport, E.J. (September/October, 1991), "Knee-deep and rising: America's Recycling Crisis", Harvard Business Review, September/October, p. 132.

Mille, A. A. 1986 "Rapport sur le monde d'assainissement des villes en Anglettere et en Ecosse." Annales d'hygiene Publique et de Medecine Legale, 2nd ser., 4 (July-October 1855), 210, 209, in Corbin, A. The Foul and the Fragrant, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Redlich, J., and Hirst, W. F. 1970 The History of Local Government in England, Macmillan and Co. Ltd., London and Basingstoke. p. 144.
COPYRIGHT 1995 Sage Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Kwawe, Daniel B.
Publication:Journal of Asian and African Studies
Date:Jun 1, 1995
Previous Article:Reaching Across the Taiwan Strait: People-to-People Diplomacy.
Next Article:Family factors and knowledge: attitudes and efforts concerning exposure to environmental tobacco among Malaysian medical students.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters