*** Compilado por RESOL Engenharia LTDA ***



























Godfrey Ewool (Ghana), Waste Disposal Workshop '98, Belo Horizonte

1. Introduction

The ever growing importance of environmental issues in the World, coupled with competing demands on governments for improved living conditions and poverty alleviation, particularly in Africa south of the Sahara, has meant that in Ghana, a lot more focus has had to be placed on appropriate and cost effective methods of dealing with waste generated by a population that is growing by an average of 3% per annum.

Ghana, with a total land area of 238,000 sq km and a population of about 18 million, currently has approximately 47,800 settlements out of which as much as 40,000 settlements have population less than five hundred (500~. About 189 settlements have population above the rural/urban threshold of five thousand (5000~. The most predominant mode of solid waste disposal in all the settlements is crude dumping near homes, or in the outskirts of towns and villages. The growth of urbanization and industrialization has however resulted in rapid increase in waste generation, especially in the urban areas, which can no longer be adequately managed by dumping in open spaces. Whilst waste generated continues to increase almost exponentially, the open spaces themselves are becoming less and less available.

Since 1994, the Government of Ghana in collaboration with the World Bank and other donors, has initiated efforts to develop engineered landfills in about 16 of the 37 major urban towns of Ghana.

This paper aims at highlighting some of the experiences gained by Ghana's Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development regarding the siting of landfills for the purpose of disposal and management of both solid and liquid waste.

2. Overview of Current Status of Solid Waste Disposal in Ghana

Ghana's Experience in the siting and development of Landfills is relatively limited. In fact the concept of Engineered Landfills for the disposal of Waste was first tried as recently as 1994, under the local Government Development Project (Urban III) , covering 11 medium sized district capitals in Bawku, Bolgatanga, Wa, Sunyani, Techiman, Koforidua, Ho, Keta/Anloga, Cape Coast, Elmina and Agona Swedru, with populations ranging between 30,000 and 50,000. Then in 1995, the Urban Environmental Sanitation Project, covering the 5 largest cities in Ghana viz Accra, Tema, Sekondi-Takoradi, Kumasi and Tamale with populations ranging from 200,000 to over 1,500,000 included components for the development of Engineered landfill sites in Tamale, Kumasi and Sekondi-Takoradi.

Long before these efforts however, the idea of an engineered landfill site had been mooted for Accra, the Capital and largest city, and a site proposed for it. However it still remains a proposal, with no physical implementation or even designs done yet.

Nevertheless Accra joins Tema and Kumasi as the only towns in Ghana where there has been relatively large scale waste collection effort, disposed off in dump sites identified by city authorities, such as quarry sites, abandoned borrow pits and marsh land within economic distances from the city.

3. Factors to be Considered in Selecting Landfill Sites

The selection of sites for landfill operations requires consideration of several factors. Notable among these factors are the following

I. Land availability, ownership and requirements for its acquisition adequacy of land area to cater for at least 10 years requirement proximity of site to collection points - no more than 30 minutes drive II. Subsoil and ground water conditions (seasonal high table level to be at least 1.5 m below the proposed base of any excavation, relatively impermeable soils above the ground water's seasonable high table level, areas within landfill boundaries not part of 10-year ground water recharge area for existing or pending water supply development) no siting within flood plains subject to 10 year floods proximity to drinking, irrigation or livestock water supply sources existence of major infrastructure service facilities (gas, sewer water, electricity cables) within the site proximity to residential development proximity to turbojet and piston-type airports proximity to socially sensitive and/or politically sensitive sites.

The lessons learnt from Experience of sitting exercises in Ghana outlined below demonstrate difficulties encountered in meeting these requirements, and also how lackadaisical approaches to the selection process, without due regard to these factors can lead to unacceptable financial and time loss.

4. Experiences of Siting Exercises in Ghana

As stated in the introduction to this paper, 11 landfill sites are being developed for Bawku, Bolgatanga, Wa, Sunyani, Techiman, Koforidua, Ho, Keta/Anloga Cape Coast, Elmina and Swedru under the Local Government Development Project, whilst 3 more are being planned for Sekondi-Takoradi, Kumasi and Tamale under the Urban Environmental Sanitation Project. The table below summarises problems associated with the selection of sites in each of these towns.










0.07 m

No serious problem with siting. Land being developed probably much bigger than available waste as farmers compete for solid waste for improving soil




0.07 m

Land originally earmarked for development had to be reduced during construction to resolve conflict with land owners over compensation.




0.07 m

No significant problems





Land originally earmarked for development had to be replaced after contractor was chased away from site. It took 12 months to identify acceptable alternative site




0.11 m

No significant problems




0.16 m

No significant problem – site was already used for liquid waste disposal. However the Municipal Authority is unhappy about going ahead to use the developed site due to isolated rock outcrop at the site.




0.07 m

The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority caused the suspension of construction works, complaining about proximity of site to the Ho airstrip. 12 months later, after several meetings and exchange of correspondence, the GCAA agreed that work could proceed.




0.5 m

Excessive distance of site from generation points of about 30km, as well as difficult terrain – flood plain




0.05 m

Site subject to flooding due to location close to valley




0.19 m

No significant problems




0.09 m

Site subject to flooding due to location close to valley




2.12 m

No significant problems




6.28 m

Land originally acquired adequate for 5 years operations only. Additional adjacent land acquired later, to meet 10 years requirement. Settlements immediately downstream of site dependent on stream to which leachate is to be discharged




3.93 m

Site falls within Catchment of city water supply source. This was not detected until long after preliminary engineering designs had been done.





As depicted in the table, significant problems have been encountered at 6 of the 14 sites, viz Sunyani, Ho, Keta/Anloga, Cape Coast, Swedru and Sekondi Takoradi. These are discussed in detail below:

4.1 Sunyani

The Sunyani Case illustrates Land use Planning and Land acquisition problems associated with siting of landfills. Aware of the problems associated with land acquisition in Ghana, evidence of the acquisition of land for development as landfill by project Assemblies was made a condition of credit effectiveness for the IDA financed Local Government Development Project. Indeed all Assemblies were able to show evidence of lands identified and agreed by land owners for purposes of landfill development. Project planning progressed smoothly with the preliminary investigations into the suitability of the site in 1 994, and the detailed design stage in 1995. Problems began however when a contract was finally awarded and the contractor mobilised to the site in 1996 to commence works. A group of local opinion leaders had managed to convince local residents that their land should not be used for treating waste generated by 'city people' in the Sunyani Township. After several unsuccessful attempts by the District Authorities and the Regional Security Council to resolve the impasse, the site had to be abandoned and a fresh process started for identifying a new site in 1997. Fresh Engineering studies had to be done on the new site, and work now re- commenced in June 1998, after nearly two years delay in implementation.

4.2 Ho

The Ho Case is another illustration of Land use planning problems associated with siting of landfills. The case is similar to the Sunyani one in the sense that everything seemed to be working well until the contractor moved to the site and completed about 30% of the Works. This time the protest did not come from land owners or residents, but from a Government Institution, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). The assertion that the location of the waste disposal site is too close to a proposed airstrip has led to over 24 months delay in the construction of the facilities. The GCAA caused the suspension of work in June 1 996 until March 1 998 when it was agreed that the works could proceed on condition that the site would be vacated as soon as flight operations are about to begin.




4.3 Keta/Anloga

Difficulties in locating suitable sites within reasonable distance from Keta/Anloga resulted in the acceptance of a site 30km away. Several unsuccessful attempts were made before and during project implementation to identify better sites. However the attempts were twarted by local pressure groups, supported by the Department of Game and Wildlife, who fought against the use of alternative sites, resulting in the eventual acceptance of the site.

4.4 Swedru and Cape Coast

These two towns are taken together because of the similarity in the problems encountered. There is an obvious error in locating the sites in valleys rather than in the adjacent higher terrain. As a result, the Local Authorities were unable to operate the facility properly when it was handed over to them. Some remedial measures have been planned to salvage the facilities.

4.5 Kumasi

The Kumasi site did not have any major problems except for the inadequacy of the available site. This was however eventually resolved with the acquisition by the Metropolitan Assembly of additional land adjacent to the original site. What appeared to be a problem though was the impact of effluent from treatment ponds on ground and surface water sources of settlers downstream of the site. The proposed solution is the extension of pipeborne water to the nearby village.

4.6 Sekondi-Takoradi

As in the case of Kumasi and Tamale, city authorities were required under the Project to identify, to the best of their ability, sites that were potentially suitable for development into landfills. These sites were then presented to consultants to

"Assess the suitability of the pre-selected sites and, if satisfactory, prepare preliminary engineering designs and cost estimates for sanitary landfills with a 1 5 year design life.

........... if any of the pre-selected sites are found to be unsuitable, the scope of the assignment would be modified to include identification of a suitable site or sites"

The assignment itself commenced in August 1995, and by April 1996 preliminary findings indicated that the preselected site at Mpinstim was suitable for development. Further review of the preliminary findings revealed however that the site was indeed within the catchment of the source of water supply for the city, and would required stringent measures to mitigate any negative impact this would have on the city water supply. The events that took place between commencement of the assignment in August 1995 and completion of the Phase I assignment in September 1997 are listed in Table 2 below. The key point is that an assignment to determine the suitability of a site in 6 months, at a cost of approximately US$ 186,795.23 ended up being completed in 24 months at a cost of US$221,795.23

Six other alternative sites that were proposed for consideration were rejected by the City Authorities because

(a) some of the areas fell within land already covered by planning schemes , on the basis of which some developers had already commenced development, and

(b) some of the sites presented special acquisition problems, such as being too close to the city centre or being prime land for Industrial Development or even falling outside the jurisdiction of the city authorities.






Commencement of Phase I assignment

August 1995


Submission of draft Phase I report

April 1996


Informal comments on draft report

May 1996


Re written report

August 1996


official presentation to Government

October 1996


Governments comments on report

January 1997


Consultant's response to comments

March 1997


Meeting between Government and Consultants to I discuss comments, particularly the issue of the suitability of the Mpinstim site in view of the I 'discovery' that the site drains into the City Water Supply catchment.

April 1997


Final phase I report for Tamale and Kumasi submitted

June 1997


Phase IA report for Sekondi submitted (this intermediate phase was for the identification I of alternative sites to replace the aborted site)



Government letter authorising Consultant to submit draft contract for phase II - with revised TORs

June 1997


"Inception report" for Kumasi and Tamale submitted. Report more like a technical proposal for phase II services l

September 1997


Phase IA report for Sekondi submitted

September 1997


Negotiation of Phase II contract

September 1997


SAEMA confirms preference for one site only at


October 1996


Draft contract for phase II submitted

October 1996


Government Comments on draft Contract with request for WB no objection

November 1997


World Bank no objection

January 1998


Phase II Contract Signed

February 1998


Draft detailed design report submitted

September 1998



5. Review of Lessons Learnt from Siting Experiences in Ghana

Three main issues have characterized the experience gained in Ghana, namely:

  1. Land Ownership and Acquisition
  2. As has been demonstrated in the Experiences listed above, Land ownership and acquisition is one of the major hurdles to be overcome in the development of facilities for waste disposal. The customary law in Ghana is that there is no land without an owner. Land is owned by the stool or skin, by a family if it is given by the stool, or by government if it is acquired in the public interest.

    All lands in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions of Ghana were, before the 1992 constitution, vested in the Government and were therefore public land. However the 1992 constitution reversed this and vested such land in the appropriate stool, skin or person. The 1992 constitution also provides that all public land shall be vested in the President on behalf of, and in trust for the people of Ghana.

    Problems of multiple claims for ownership of stool lands, and disagreement between chiefs and other opinion leaders in the locality can and do create acquisition problems, as demonstrated in the Sunyani case.

  3. Land use Planning
  4. The lack of available Land use plans in most areas leads to conflicting proposals for

    the use of land and encroachment of sites identified for particular purposes, such as

    waste disposal. This-is exemplified by the Ho case, where the Ghana Civil Aviation

    Authority made a counter claim for the use of land targeted for waste disposal.

  5. Non Compliance with Site Selection Criteria

This is more of a technical slip on the part of specialists involved in the siting process, as depicted in the Sekondi/Takoradi case, but could also be the result of compromise dictated by budgetary constraints.

The site selection problems cited in this paper demonstrates that inadequate attention to any of these three key issues could have both financial and time loss.

6. Conclusion

The experience gained by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in Ghana, with regard to the siting of landfills, points to four key issues, viz (a) an urgent need for land use plans to be prepared for growing towns (b) the acquisition of such land identified for landfill operations (c) the timely development of the facility to avoid encroachment by other eager developers and (d) adherence to standard siting guidelines. This way, the time and cost escalation depicted in table 3 below would be avoided.


























Cape Coast/Swedru



Delayed Activity

Construction works at selected site

Construction works at selected site

Identification of suitable site by design consultant

Operation of newly Completed landfill site

Identification of suitable site by design consultant

Identification of suitable site by design consultant


February 1997

April 1996





Scheduled completion

November 1997

December 1996





Nature of siting problem

Dispute over use of land after contractor had moved to site

Ghana Civil Aviation Authority causes works to be suspended after 30% has been done and 25% of contract cost disbursed

Excessive distance from waste collection points to origian disposal site (30 km away, causing delays in commencement of work whilst new sites were being sought.

Completed facility subject to flooding due to inappropriate location

Inadequate land, and drinking water in downstream villages from same stream proposed for receiving leachate upstream

Late identification of fact that original site was within the same carchment serving as source of city’s water supply.

Resultant time loss

18 months delay – worj re-commenced at new site in June 1998

Over 24 months, as work has still not re-commenced





Resultant additional cost increase















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