6 Ensure environmental sustainability


Photo Credit : UNDP in Ghana

On MDG 7 of ensuring environmental sustainability, Ghana is on track of achieving the target on halving the proportion of the population without access to safe water, however critical challenges exist in achieving the targets of reversing the loss of environmental resources, reducing the proportion of people without access to improved sanitation, and achieving significant improvement in the lives of people living in slum areas. Although up-to-date data on the rate of forest depletion is unavailable, evidence suggest that the country is depleting its forest cover at an alarming rate. Between 1990 and 2005, the forest cover has declined from 32.7 per cent to 24.2 per cent. On the other hand, while access to safe water services in rural areas has improved considerably, there has been slow progress with access to safe water within urban areas. Even though Ghana has made progress in reducing the proportion of the population without access to improved sanitation, the target may not be achieved by 2015 if the current trends continue. The target of reducing the proportion of the population without access to safe drinking water has been achieved ahead of target by 6 per cent. At the current trend the proportion of the population with access to improved sanitation will reach 21.2 per cent by 2015 instead of 52 per cent, while the proportion of urban population with access to improved sanitation will be 23.4 per cent instead of 55 per cent by 2015. In the rural areas, only 20.6 per cent would have access to improved sanitation instead of 50.5 per cent. Although the proportion of urban population living in slums shows a decline, if the current pattern continues, about 14 per cent of the population will still be living in slum areas by 2020.

What contributed to the progress?
To halt the rapid rate of deforestation, government has implemented several interventions aimed at restoring the degraded environment and ensuring efficient management of the natural resources. These interventions include the reclamation of degraded and degraded through illegal mining activities, national forest plantation programmes and community forestry management programme. Ghana also prepared 55 Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), which are actions and policies that the country will voluntarily implement in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Thirty six (36) out of these 55 NAMAs was mainstreamed into the current medium term national development policy framework, the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA), 2010 – 2013.

Moreover, government and development partners have implemented a number of interventions over the last couple of years to improve and facilitate the provision of safe water in rural and urban communities.  

Key Challenges
The key challenge facing the nation in achieving MDG 7 is policy enforcement. There is a critical need for stronger enforcement of forestry and wildlife policies and strategies to ensure that forest and wildlife resources are managed on economically viable, socially beneficial and environmentally sound principles. There is also the challenge of inadequate resources (both human and financial) to implement reforestation programmes not only at the national level but more importantly at the district levels. Other challenges include:
•    The fast pace of urbanization and the need to meet the growing demand for water for consumption, industry and commerce;
•    Inadequate financial resources required to undertake and maintain huge water projects;
•    Inadequate infrastructure especially unreliable energy sources to power and pump water to households.
•    Pollution of river bodies by small scale illegal miners particularly in the rural areas;
•    Substantial regional variations in access to safe water source;
•    The vital need to ensure public private partnerships in water provision for urban areas; and
•    A more concrete role for communities in the management and delivery of urban water within their areas.

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Targets for MDG7
  1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources
  2. Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
    • Proportion of land area covered by forest and proportion of species threatened with extinction
    • CO2 emissions, total, per capita and per $1 GDP (PPP)
    • Consumption of ozone-depleting substances
    • Proportion of fish stocks within safe biological limits
    • Proportion of total water resources used
    • Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected
  3. Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
    • Proportion of population using an improved drinking water source
    • Proportion of population using an improved sanitation facility
  4. Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020
    • Proportion of urban population living in slums