Obama’s “Most Dynamic” Africa Delusion versus the Reality ofFeces-Clogged Shorelines

As part of the “US-Africa” summit held over the past weekend in Washington DC, the Obama administration claimed that it was celebrating “one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing regions”—but the reality of Africa’s continuing slide back to its pre-colonial primitiveness is undeniable—as evidenced by the latest reports which show that its western shoreline is becoming clogged with feces.
The development has been caused by a huge population explosion and the phony African states’ complete inability to create any sort of sustainable infrastructure to cope with the massive increase in numbers.

This is also, of course, partly the reason why Ebola and other contagious diseases break out and spread so rapidly on the continent.

According to a recent report on Bloomberg, the feces-clogged shoreline of western Africa has become a serious problem which is even killing sea life off the shoreline.

Danish liberal Fredrik Sunesson had, the report revealed, “high hopes” when the first tanker truck unloaded feces from some of Accra’s 4 million residents at his recycling plant in Ghana’s capital.

But, the report continues, “seventeen months later, those expectations have been dashed.” A combination of red tape and disputes over payments mean Sunesson’s Slamson Ghana Ltd. is running far below capacity.

Most of the 140 tankers dump the contents of Accra’s toilets each day into the Gulf of Guinea at a foul-smelling dune known as Lavender Hill. The lagoon nearby is so polluted that scientists says most life-forms can’t survive. The slum nearby has earned the nickname Sodom and Gomorrah.

“It’s a shame for everybody, most of all for the environment and the people of Accra,” Sunesson said.

Despite a series of infrastructure projects backed by foreign donors, Accra doesn’t have a working sewer system, leaving most of its citizens to choose between communal latrines or defecating on open ground.

That’s contaminating the city’s groundwater, according to the World Bank, and almost 700 people have contracted cholera since June.

The failure to maintain existing treatment plants has rendered them unusable, while a lack of political will means there’s little prospect of any immediate improvement.

Accra’s problems are an example of how external investment and good intentions often aren’t enough to make a difference in Africa. As many as seven out of 10 people in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to flush or chemical toilets or latrines, according to the World Bank.

What the World Bank did not say was why the population has no access to toilets or a sewage system. No one "gave" such waste disposal systems to European nations—they built their own.

The World Bank plans to give Ghana $150 million in grants to improve access to potable water and basic toilets for the poorest residents of Accra, where most roads are lined with open drains and gutters that overflow during heavy rain.

Ghana will seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund as its currency is the worst performer in the world.

“Ghana is among those countries with the lowest coverage in sanitation and also among those where coverage isn’t improving,” Flemming Konradsen, an expert on international environmental health at the University of Copenhagen, was quoted as saying.

 “Sanitation generally isn’t a priority of the population and it isn’t a sufficient priority of politicians.”

Superficial developments—such as a few shopping malls—have sprung up since the discovery of oil in 2009, but “All that masks how inadequate the sanitary system is,” the report continued.

The report revealed that more than half of the population dumps solid waste in open spaces, Ghana’s national statistical service said last year in a report.

Accra “wants tourism, the city wants you to be happy here,” said Robert Ansah, an adviser to the city’s mayor on sanitation issues. “We want the population to be healthy and we don’t want them defecating on the beaches.”

In Accra’s central Labadi neighborhood, Ayitey Mensah and his neighbors didn’t bother to repair the toilet shared by 20 families when it broke eight years ago. They now clamber down a dune and defecate on the shoreline.

Mensah, a 36-year-old welder, said in an interview, “This place, we call it the beach toilet. Plenty of people prefer to come here.”

In May, Ghana’s government shelved a $595 million project to improve sewers, wastewater treatment and storm drains in Accra. The US Export-Import Bank guaranteed financing for the plan, which included dredging the slimy black lagoon on Accra’s shoreline. Without dredging, the lagoon’s trash-strewn banks have been left with mounds of sludge as high as three-story buildings.

A $22 million wastewater treatment plant nearby stopped working shortly after being built in 2000 because it wasn’t maintained, according to the World Bank.

Three fecal-sludge treatment plants don’t work because of poor maintenance. The existing sewer system, which reaches fewer than 10 percent of city’s residents, isn’t being looked after, the lender said.

Meanwhile the trucks continue to show up every day at Lavender Hill. Despite a court order to close the site, city authorities continue to take a fee of 15 cedis ($4) per load. That’s enough to pay for proper treatment for the waste, the World Bank said.