UK researchers to ameliorate lagoon pollution in Ghana

A team of researchers from the School of Civil Engineering and Surveying, University of Portsmouth, UK, have commenced work into finding solutions that could influence state policy in the ever-increasing pollution of coastal lagoons in Ghana.

They were in the country to fact-find and network with colleague researchers and related-institutions for possible partnerships believing that the final result could influence public health in the study dubbed: “The Impact of Climate Change on Anthropogenically Polluted Coastal Lagoons in Africa: Case Study of Ghana.”

The Department of Marines and Fisheries Sciences, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, and the Geography and Regional Planning Department, University of Cape Coast are the collaborating institutions.

Lagoons are polluted with liquid waste, solid waste from the mainland including plastics, bottles, polythene and sewerage particles, industrial waste laden with heavy metals.

Coastal zones represent less than seven per cent of total land area and holds more than 25 per cent of the nation’s population.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview, Dr Isaac Boateng, Leader of the team said climate change with its associated impact may aggravate the situation as increases in temperature, sea level rise, and increase in intensity in storms are factors that could influence on coastal lagoons significantly.

He indicated that coastal lagoon systems in Africa, like goods and services generate in excess of $ 500 billion annually including services in the fishing industry, spawning grounds, tourism, mangroves and serving as storm-breaks.

“We can hazard the problems but such impact of climate change on these lagoons considering its magnitude and implications on environmental management need empirical investigation.”

The team would be investigating the extent of coastal lagoon pollution, effects of pollution on lagoons and ecosystems, settlements and livelihood patterns as well as the resilience capacity of the lagoon ecosystems.

Dr Boateng said human consumption of fish and vegetables from these metallic heavily polluted lagoons has public health implications.

He indicated preliminary investigations attest to the hypothesis coastal lagoons including Sakumono, Moquaye, Kpeshie, Bortianor, Fete and Winneba are heavily polluted and there are issues to critically examine and especially how to manage the landmark for posterity.

The team leader said policy actors need to support the project in terms of funding towards solving anticipated recommendations, particularly banning of plastic Voltic bottles and polythene bags, which are not bio-degradable.

Dr Kwasi Appeaning-Addo, Head of Department, Marines and Fisheries Sciences, University of Ghana, Legon, said the collaboration would foster greater academic partnership to benefit all parties in a win-win fashion invariably aimed at reversing the trend.

He said previous work done on the subject area indicates that the country’s coastal lagoons stretching some 500 kilometres between Togo and Cote d’Ivoire, which is home for about 100 lagoons is heavily polluted.

Coastal lagoons, which provide many benefits and economic values to human population, are under threat from over-exploitation and degradation. There’s need for the basic ecological character to be maintained.

The continual trends of drift from rural to urban centres, the industrialisation of coastal districts as well as high population growth rate of three percent place increasing stress on coastal ecosystem in Ghana.

The beautiful sand dunes, open lagoons, salt pans, marshes, scrubs as well as mangroves are suitable feeding, roosting and nesting grounds for various species for bird-watchers and breeding grounds for sea turtles suffer serious threats.

The methodology to be deployed include measurement of levels of pollution, analysis of the geomorphology of lagoons and use of sea level rise model data to develop, recommend and predict strategies for the sustainable management of the problem.

The expected outcomes are to develop a baseline understanding of the impact of climate change on polluted coastal lagoons, enhance the development of mitigation and adaptation strategies in Ghana and possible scaling-up of the findings to affect coastal lagoons in the West African sub-region since there are no physical boundaries in the sea. GNA

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