Tag Archives: PEF

Ghana oil industry impacts environment and tourism at Axim Beach Resort

[pullquote]“We are removing all the buildings, making them more attractive, building new ones. This is the future plan. We believe we can also catch the eye of investors,”[/pullquote]

Axim Beach Resort hasn’t seen an increase in tourists yet, but like many resorts along the coast of Western Region, they are preparing to draw in more visitors, as oil is drawing more people to the region.

“We’re expecting that people will be coming more, since people will be exploring,” says Solomon Alloteuy, the assistant manager of the resort.

The emerging oil sector is creating many opportunities for the region’s entrepreneurs. He says they have already started expanding to accommodate more guests.

“We are removing all the buildings, making them more attractive, building new ones. This is the future plan. We believe we can also catch the eye of investors,” he says.

This new development, however, comes after an oil spill in February, which threatened the coastline, as well as marine life. Alloteuy says the resort is still facing a number of environmental problems he fears may be associated with the offshore activities.

“There’s this oil residue and then some rubbish that comes, some weeds we have been experiencing that people are saying is because of the thing – it floats around the coast and becomes a heap rubbish.”

Paramount Chief of Western Nzema, Awulae Annor-Adjeye the third is one person who has been speaking out about environmental issues affecting the coast since oil was discovered three years ago.

[pullquote]“If for instance, a fisherman went to see and just by his simple knowledge he found some oil spill, where is he going to communicate this information to?”[/pullquote]

“We are not only looking at what happens downstream. We are looking at the environment within which the activity is taking place, where the exploration is taking place and that is offshore. What happens with the drill mud? What happens with the ballast water?”

Annor-Adjeye is launching a forum called the Platform for Coastal Communities of Western Region, to address environmental concerns of people living on the coast. The biggest problem, he says, is not having a place to report incidents when they occur.

“If for instance, a fisherman went to see and just by his simple knowledge he found some oil spill, where is he going to communicate this information to?”

Ballast water, which ships carry and often discharge at ports contain many biological organisms, some of them harmful to the local ecosystems. Programs co-ordinator Kyei Kwaco Yamoah of Friends of the Nation, a local NGO, says ballast water is also one of his concerns about the environmental impact of the emerging oil industry.

“The issue of ballast water has come up and ballast water has the potential to pollute marine waters to the extent that fisheries will be affected. It could even affect the whole extent of the coastal environment – all of these, we think there are not adequate measures as we speak to deal with them,” says Yamoah.

Developers and entrepreneurs want to make the coastline appealing to an influx of visitors to the area, but are worried about the environmental impact of offshore oil activities.

He says right now the focus is on revenue when it should be on the environment and Ghana needs to toughen its laws when it comes to conservation.

He says, “For now, we are concerned with the kind of loose laws we have relative to the oil and gas. The industry has started, but the laws we have are inadequate to handle the various challenges the oil and gas sector presents.”

That’s a problem Western Region can’t afford to ignore.

Ghana Bar Association Educates Children on Their Rights

The rows of children that came to hear about their rights

Knowing what rights you do have is the first way to recognizing when someone is abusing them.

The Ghana Bar Association recognizes this fact and has set up workshops centered on teaching school children about their rights and responsibilities.

“I think that the program is good because I want to be educated about my rights,” one child said. This child was one of hundreds that filled room, all in different colours representing their different schools.

The children were asked to prepare questions about their social and economic rights to ask several lawyers who volunteered to visit children. One by one, the children would stand up and ask their question to the lawyers.

Many of their questions were about their rights as children, specifically when looking at child labour. Many school age children work for their parents after school, selling the market or streets. They asked about hours and what are appropriate jobs for them to be helping out with.

One child asked about helping at his parents restaurant business because it serves alcohol as well as food. The lawyers told him that as long as it is before eight o’clock and he does not serve the alcohol, it is okay for him to help his parents out.

Child labour is defined through law as a person under 18 who is deprived of health, education or development. It also prohibits children from working after eight o’clock at night.

Other questions were based around the family. One boy stood up and asked, “if my parents get divorced, do I have the right to choose who I live with?”

A child asking a question about his rights to the panel of lawyers

Joseph, 12, enjoyed the workshop and learned more about what makes a good citizen of Ghana, saying, “doing the program, I got to know my rights and learned that every right also goes with a responsibility.”

The Ghana Bar Association has chosen child rights as its theme for the month of July.

Funeral of Kumasi’s late Chief of Imam

The late Sheikh Imran Musah served as the Ashanti Regional Chief Imam for nine years before succumbing to diabetes at age 67. He was remembered for his dedication in promoting education as a means of fighting poverty and also his love for football. An official ceremony was held on July 3 at the Kumasi Central Mosque to honour his passing and to install his successor, the new Ashanti Regional Chief Imam Sheikh Abdul Mumin, formerly the deputy chief imam. Political and governmental dignitaries, both Muslim and Christian, were present to pay their respects. They include the Archbishop of the Kumasi Catholic Archdiocese His Grace Thomas Kwaku Mensah, former Vice President of Ghana Alhaji Aliu Mahama, current Vice President John Dramani Mahama and Ashanti Regional Minister Dr. Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah. Various tribal chiefs, chief imams and imams from mosques in Kumasi were also there in their regal traditional robes. The ceremony ended with the official installment of the late Chief Imam’s successor, Sheikh Abdul Mumin as the new Ashanti Regional Chief Imam.

Listen and watch to some of the eulogies honouring the Ashanti Regional Chief Imam.


KNUST Graduation and a brush with royalty

Leah Wong at the KNUST Graduation Ceremony, photo taken by graduation photographers

Just like students graduating from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology I shook the hand of the Ashanti King.

A week after our tour of the school, I attended the first day of graduation, held in the school’s great hall. Unlike the week before when exams were in session, the grounds were filled with people. All around graduates, their friends and families were snapping photos.

When I reached the venue I was seated inside with the former Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kwasi Adarkwa’s wife in the front row, giving me a clear view of the day’s festivities. Following the procession of both convocation, the university’s Chancellor and the University Council, I realized that I was going to be seated in front of the Ashanti King for the entire ceremony.

The valedictorian, Kwadwo Boakye Boadu, received the highest marks for students from the two colleges, provided the usual inspirational speech to his fellow classmates. He encouraged his fellow students to continue to work hard as his lecturers engrained in him that “only in the dictionary [does] success come before work,” reminding them that “it doesn’t happen in the real world.”

The motivational speaker for the event was Frank Tackie, the President of the Ghana Institute of Planners. Tackie encouraged the graduates to take hold of opportunities, even if it means leaving the country. In his 35 years as a planner, he has traveled to work in over 20 countries globally.

The graduation ceremony was for both the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the College of Architecture and Planning. Each graduating student shook the hand of the chancellor of the university, the Ashanti King, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.

Following the graduation ceremony, Prof. Adarkwa and his wife took me to a reception at the Vice-Chancellor’s house. There I sat in the same room as King and enjoyed refreshments. The King did not eat the same food as I did though, as he travels with a cooler of his own food wherever he goes. We sat waiting for the King to depart, and though I did not have my camera, Prof. Adarkwa said he would introduce me to the King.

After a brief introduction about how I was the daughter of one of his Canadian classmates, and that I was working at Kapital Radio in Kumasi, I was able to say hello and shake hands with the King. Shaking hands with the King is a great honour by Ghanaian standards, something I truly realized when I told the story to my coworkers later that week.

Do the Adowa!

Adowa is a traditional dance unique to the Ashanti region of Ghana. It’s common to see performances of Adowa at formal ceremonies with the accompaniment of Kete drummers. Adowa dancers perform shirtless, wrapped only in traditional Lapa cloths. Their movements are said to mimic the antelope, which is called adowa in Twi. An Adowa dancer customarily ends his performance by going around to collect tips from guests.

Watch the video to see how a young Adowa dancer entertained the crowd during the Neo-natal Survival Project’s end-of-pilot celebration at Suntreso Hospital in Kumasi.


Know Your Rights takes on gender and politics

Though the recent contest between the current president, John Evan Atta Mills, and the former first lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, to take the flagbearership of the National Democratic Congress just ended, talk of the battle has yet to cease. One of the key subjects of discussion throughout the race was the ability of women to run Ghana. For the first show of Know Your Rights following a few weeks break, we discussed the issue, with international human rights activist, Dr. Charlotte Abakah. In addition to hearing Abakah’s insight on how the nature of politics and society are preventing women from seeking positions in office, we also talked about the role of Islam in Ghanaian politics.

One of the arguments against having a women as the flagbearer of a political party is that Muslims in Ghana would not support a female candidate. In discussion with Abakah and a phone interview with a Ghanaian politician who is both a woman and Muslim, we debunked this religious argument.

To watch some behind the scenes footage from Know Your Rights, check out the video below.


New neo-natal facilities for Kumasi’s newborns

Nurse Haajia Ayishatu Yakubu with a premature baby at Suntreso Hospital's Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) in Kumasi

For every 1000 babies born alive in Ghana, 48 are expected to die. Five years ago, that number would have been far higher but infant mortality rate in the country has been steadily dropping since 2006.

Thanks to improvements in neo-natal care and immunization coverage, Ghana’s newborns now face a better chance of survival. Kumasi in particular, now has three hospitals that are equipped with a neo-natal care unit.

According to Dr. Kwesi Awudzi, Director of Health for the Ashanti Region, pregnant women in Ghana often work throughout the year regardless of their stage in pregnancy. The strain of hard labour often causes complications for mothers, including premature births.

Prior to 2009, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) was the only place equipped to treat premature births. With the help Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV), Alliance Bank and the Millennium City Innitiative (MCI), there are now neo-natal care units at two other hospitals in the city – Suntreso Hospital and Kyarapatere Hospital.

According to Suntreso Hospital’s Mother and Baby Unit’s head nurse Haajia Ayishatu Yakubu, this caused an on-going patient congestion at KATH and babies often had to sleep two to a cot. The opening of the two new units in 2009 has substantially improved the situation; aside from new cases, Suntreso and Kyarapatere Hospital regularly receive babies in critical condition that KATH was unable to treat.

Patients in the Kangaroo Mother Care therapy room at Suntreso Hospital's Mother and Baby Unit in Kumasi

During the recent end-of-pilot celebration of the Neo-natal Survival Project at Suntreso Hospital, I was shown around the hospital’s Mother and Baby unit. The beds were amply spaced from one another and only half were occupied. Nurse Yakubu said the unit does not use incubators; instead, they employ the Kangaroo Mother Care (KMA) method to treat premature babies. In a room separate from the main ward, mothers are able to recuperate with their babies strapped to their chests to provide direct and continuous skin-to-skin contact which will encourage and support the babies’ growth.

Nurse Yakubu said there have only been two deaths since the unit opened two years ago. Both cases involve babies in critical condition that were transferred from KATH.

With a project yielding such substantial results, Ghana’s health sector seems set to achieve its goal of reducing infant mortality by 2015. The next challenge facing the project would be to ensure its sustainability.

A Labour of Love

There is no closing time at Skyy FM. Reporters work until the work is done and sometimes that means twelve hour days and weekends.

This issue was brought up last week in one of our editorial meetings. A practicum student just out of high school has been coming to our eight o’clock meetings and staying past our six o’clock news in order to help with production. He gets flack for coming late to work and flack from his family for coming home late at night.

What makes matters worse, is the long days are punctuated with hours of inactivity. Christian Baidoo, a reporter at Skyy for four years, says many of the station’s challenges are technological.

[pullquote]Despite these challenges, many of the reporters at Skyy say they love what they do.[/pullquote]

“The computers are old computers, they break down. We always have to back up files because we always have to format the computers because they give us problems. As I sit here now, I have two bulletins to do: I have the four o’clock news – that is for radio, but for the television news at six, our editing suite is broken down. We are waiting for them to fix it and we have from now until six to get all the stories done. That is one major challenge: I’m here, I’m ready to work, but because the editing suite is broken down there is no other option but wait.”

Baidoo also points out a problem with the sole company vehicle not always being readily available for the news. The lack of internet access is also a problem. Baidoo sites as an example working on a story and needing to convert miles to kilometres for clarity. Without working Internet, he laments he couldn’t be accurate in his reporting.

Despite these challenges, many of the reporters at Skyy say they love what they do.

“I’ve always dreamed of being a journalist,” says Eric Gyetuah, who is doing his national service.

“With the little experience I’ve gotten in the past five months, I think I like it,” he says. Like all of the other interns, he isn’t paid a wage.

Eric Gyetuah conducts an interview for Skyy in Sekondi

Leticia Esi Anaman, a practicum student, became a journalist to give back to her community. “We have people in my area who need someone to reach out to them. I thought if we get someone who is a journalist in my area, that person can [speak] out with their views and what they need.”

Coming from a rural area, Anaman says much of the local news is centered on the cities. “If you get someone from the villages, you can get someone to tell what is actually wrong there as well.”

However, she says the meagre pay journalists receive is making her consider public relations as a career option as well. But she won’t give up reporting.

“I want to be both a journalist and a PR person,” she says.

Why? She says she wants to have an impact on people’s lives.

Ivorians Seek Refugee Status in Ghana

June 20th marked World Refugee Day. But thousands of Ivorians at the Ampain refugee camp in Ghana have not yet been given that status.  They hope to change that.  Raquel Fletcher has prepared this radio report for SKYY Digital.

Ivorian Aslyum Seekers at Ampain Refugee Camp

For more info on education at Ampain read Alyssa McDonald’s, Getting Schooled on World Refugee Day.

Wedding Shower at the Kumasi Central Mosque

Last Sunday I had the opportunity to attend a Muslim wedding ceremony in the zongo surrounding the Kumasi Central Mosque. The ceremony involves the bride reciting verses from the Quran with the guidance of a Mallam (religious teacher). During the recitation, guests and family members offer gifts of cash to the bride. The groom was not present as he was undergoing the same ceremony at his home. It was wonderful to see the entire community organize the wedding together. The bride was flanked by classmates from her madrasah who diligently wiped away every bead of sweat or tear on her face. Not far from where the ceremony was held, elder women of the community cooked wakye (pronounce wah-chey), a local dish of rice and beans to serve to wedding guests.

Watch the video for a snippet of the event.