Environmental Injustice
& Chorkor Chemuenaa in Accra, Ghana

You may not have created the mess but you have a major role in making Mother Earth green again. Veganism involves environmental affairs such as pollution, exploitation, & deforestation, and we’re all required to act consciously to liberate the worlds inhabitants.

Our ocean covers most parts of the land surface and it is terrifying how it’s being filled with unimaginable waste materials ranging from plastics, electronic waste, organic waste, textiles and more. Most people tend to turn a blind eye to the problem which makes it escalate further everyday.

Environmental injustice is one main cause of this crisis. Human activities are the drivers of this menace and until we uncover the actual polluters, low income communities will always be tagged as the main cause of pollution in a particular society. This is what environmental Injustice basically means.

WHERE?

Chorkor Chemuenaa is a community located in Accra – the capital city of Ghana. This location had been one of the beautiful lagoons in the country, situated close to the ocean many years ago, but unfortunately it’s being affected with human activities such as improper waste disposal methods and linkage of other water outlets which usually contains trash from different communities. It contained marine species originally but they have all perished due the pollutants that were introduced.

As an extension, veganism seeks to address the various injustices humans and non-humans encounter, in order to provide the necessary exposure that can lead to a sustainable plan being developed.

This is absolutely a form of injustice that needs attention, as these are crucial situations regarding the disproportionate exposure of low income societies to pollution and the extent of its effect on health and environment.

As inhabitants of various communities, we may not all be affected by this crisis but we are obviously responsible for most of the waste materials available in our local water bodies and oceans at large. It’s thereby our duty to educate ourselves on how best to handle the situation.

WHICH GROUPS ARE AFFECTED?

Everyone has a right to a safe and healthy environment but there assertions that hazardous waste is concentrated in minority and low income communities.

These minority groups are understandably agitated and are keen for more research on environmental inequalities and policies to facilitate improvement in conditions.

Observations found most pollutants to be electronic waste and plastics accumulated in the lagoon ,thereby replacing the marine life that once thrived in these waters.

The minority groups have always been aware of the main source of trash in their neighborhood and are also without a single doubt they are part of the problem. Unfortunately, there is an underlying assumption which tags the Chemuenaa people as the main polluters of the lagoon connecting to the ocean. Evidence shows that most of these pollutants in the lagoon have a source and it usually starts from communities distant from the actual scene. This is because the structures that were built to contain waste water were linked to the lagoon connecting to the ocean. These structures which are smaller tunnels/gutters collect not just water but trash from other communities due the improper waste disposal methods employed in those areas.

As these groups grew increasingly concerned about the exposure to the pollutants, the state of the lagoon led them to consider the broader implications of living in close proximity to this menace. There have been similar articles written about this situation and I think it is high time the writers start to pay attention to both the majority and minority communities.

WHY DON’T THEY MOVE?

An interview with some occupants who have been living at the place for decades revealed how eager they’d love to move to a better location.

Ernest resides very close to the scene and tries to make a living by collecting plastic sachets to be recycled. He was open to tell us how the community tried their best to protest and make the government aware of the extent they are being affected.

This form of action seems like a great response and the provision of technical equipment and attitudinal change will definitely reduce the mess and eventually eliminate the crisis.

Generally, Income generated from trading plastics and other recyclables is one of the factors keeping some residents from moving.

Just like Ernest, there are others who wish to be out of the community but are worried about losing their source of income. Ernest lamented how unsustainable his job was and how he would actually need a better place to live in the long run.

Other occupants also believe in “staying where they were born” regardless of the situation so with this mindset, nothing will trigger their relocation. There’s the claim that they are comfortable and have absolute peace of mind.

Ultimately, Funds to relocate are the main reason why the majority of people are still living in the neighborhood. It is also interesting how there’s been a steady decrease in the population for the past 15 years.

RESPONSE

There are active organizations playing a major role to control the crisis all over. These are government institutions, NGOs and individuals who have realized the extent of the crisis and how our ocean is being affected.

Environmental Justice organization PLASTIC PUNCH is a non-governmental organization that has been on the frontlines creating awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution and providing sustainable environmental studies. This organization has impacted communities through clean up events and also providing educational platforms to awaken the youth.

Plastic Punch is still exploring the communities affected by these injustices and will surely come up with sustainable solutions to serve the people and make the environment a better place.

VIBRANT VEGAN SOCIETY OF GHANA (VVESOG) is a vegan community that is also an active group that highlights the injustices humans and non-humans are exposed to. VVESOG has played a significant role in creating awareness of animal exploitation and educating the masses to be more conscious about the climate, as well as providing details about how a plant-based food system can change the world.

The issue of the Chemuena community has been raised with attendees of VVESOG vegan events to make them aware about the injustices the occupants encounter, as well as providing environmental-friendly tips to improve the situation.

In recent times, the government launched an agenda to make Accra the cleanest city in Africa.

It has since created a path to encourage monthly cleanups which will go a long way to control the amount of pollutants that are exposed to the ocean.

Additionally, Operation Clean Your Frontage is another policy which has been initiated to dismantle unauthorized structures situated at specific sites. These unauthorized structures have contributed to recent floods which again, mostly affects low income communities & minorities.

Government officials should have to hear the voice of the occupants of these communities, as they know what is sustainable for the land and what is not. As mentioned before, these communities are eager for more research to be conducted on how to reverse the crisis.

A perfect instance is when the government built a bridge to aid movement of people in the community, but unfortunately, it got washed away during a heavy downpour.

Claims were made that the occupants deliberately destroyed the bridge. How is this possible?

Finally, the best way to address this form of injustice is to embrace the vegan intersectional movement, which will enable the voices of the community to be heard.

It is obvious how technical efforts could reverse this crisis because the community is dependent on the efforts of the government and other private corporations to change the narrative. The situation also calls for environmental justice activists from the diaspora to show support in solidarity, in order that we might make the continent a better place.

By Martin Stanley Adansi
aka Unapologetic Vegtino

For more information

PLASTIC PUNCH:

VIBRANT VEGAN SOCIETY OF GHANA:

Unapologietic Vegtino: