Biomedical Pollutants and Urban Waste Management in the Accra Metropolitan Area, Ghana: A Framework for Urban Management of the Environment (FUME)
Squire, Jeffrey Nii
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Ecosystems provide essential necessities required for the sustenance of life including food, water, medicine, aesthetics, recreational and spiritual outlets. Preserving and maintaining the integrity, carrying capacity, diversity and functions of ecosystems is therefore necessary for sustainability. Naturally, ecosystems are resilient and have the ability to bend and flex with various stressors while retaining their integrity, provided the challenges are not overwhelming. On the other hand, consistent mismanagement can result in the transformation of pulse disturbances into chronic and compounded perturbations. Ultimately, this can result in the dilapidation, alteration and in some case, removal of ecosystems. In many developing countries, ineffective management of urban wastes contributes to the magnification of risks to ecosystems and public health. Particularly perturbing is the mismanagement of biomedical pollutants generated during the course of healthcare activities. Biomedical wastes are known to contain infectious, toxic and radioactive substances that carry a greater risk for the environment and public health than regular urban wastes. In spite of the risk factors, mismanagement of biomedical pollutants is widespread in many developing countries. Predicated primarily on post-positivist epistemology, this case study research investigated systemic and institutional arrangements pertaining to the management of urban wastes including biomedical pollutants in the Accra Metropolitan Area (AMA), Ghana. The research uncovered major deficiencies in management of urban wastes and biomedical pollutants which contributes to elevated risks to the environment and public health. The underlying causes of the problems were found to be embedded in deficiencies relating to weak governance, feckless regulations, resource constraints, corruption, technological limitations, service delivery and a general lack of awareness. As part of the research, an eclectic Framework for Urban Management of the Environment (FUME) was developed to address gaps in existing environmental planning and decision-making approaches. The FUME model consists of salient features of the precautionary principle, ecosystem approach, adaptive management, co-management, environmental risk management and integrated waste management.