Ghana is faced with a lot of challenges, but among all poor sanitation has exposed this country to public ridicule. Unfortunately, most of the problems associated with environmental sanitation in this country are attitudinal in nature. Despite some actions taken by government, communities, individuals and some organizations to solve this problem, little to no results has been seen. Children are among the most vulnerable to environmental sanitation challenges yet they can be great change agents and should not be considered passive or helpless victims.
Through the environmental education program, “Little Green Hands (LGH)”organized by CA and partners, more than 600 school children in Air Force Basic School have gained knowledge on waste management. Launched in September, 2015, the program uses the Environmental Ambassadors approach to stimulate environmental care and ownership in children and youth.
Most children have shown eagerness to learn and influence positive behavioral changes in other children. The LGH initiative therefore nurtures and utilizes these natural traits in children. School children at the Air Force Basic School among other schools in Accra have been equipped with relevant education on sanitation in a child-friendly school environment. This has reduced their vulnerability to risk while contributing to sustainable development of their communities.
The children now separate their plastics from other waste materials and sell for cash. On a monthly basis, the children are able to generate 20 sacks of empty sachet water to be sold to recycling companies for money. Revenue generated from the sale of waste is to be deposited in a scholarship fund to support brilliant but needy students and also to undertake other school developmental activities. Today, the school has reduced their waste by 20% and can now boast of a clean a conducive environment for learning.
Empty sachet water packed into sacks and the currently tidy school compound of Airforce Basic School, Accra. (Photo credit: Henrietta Asiedu)
The Head Mistress of the school, Madam Josephine Asibi was grateful to Conservation Alliance for this initiative. She said before this initiative, some students were littering the compound with even though there were dustbins in the school. After they received the environmental training from the team at CA, they have had a good change in their bad attitudes of littering and police other children in this regard. The Headmistress is keen on ensuring this change in behavior is sustained. She has therefore allowed the school children to form a Little Green Hands Group where children continue to learn about being better stewards of the environment. The school children receive technical support from CA during their Environmental Hour, a meeting held on the Last Friday of every month. Justina Krampah, one of the Little Green Ambassadors for Air Force Basic School who spearheaded this activity with the training she received from Conservation Alliance advised other schools to practice this in other to protect the environment.
The program coordinator, Abigail Frimpong said that there is the need to continue with the “Little Green Hands” initiative since this initiative has proven to be a very viable way of engaging children to be responsible stewards of the environment. As CA continues to work on scaling up and mainstreaming environmental sanitation into the education sector, she called on government, donors, organizations, individuals and all other stakeholders to support the Little Green Hands initiative to ensure a cleaner and safer schools in all regions in the country.
Henrietta Asiedu Public Relations and Communications Officer