The administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA), Madam Regina McCarthy, is in Ghana to establish a partnership with the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency (GH-EPA).

Addressing a meeting with the Acting Executive Director of EPA Ghana, Mr John Pwamang, in Accra on Tuesday, Madam McCarthy intimated that the US-EPA was interested in dealing with issues of urbanization, water quality challenges and general sanitation issues, capacity building and the development of options to find solutions to the challenges.

She pledged the willingness of US-EPA to work together with EPA Ghana, expand the ability to share data and explore best practises.

In his remarks, Mr Pwamang disclosed that under the transport sector, EPA had engaged a key stakeholder- the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) – to register 26 Private Vehicle Testing Centres to enhance emission monitoring.

Mr. Pwamang indicated, however, that the monitoring program was facing challenges, such as the high consumption rate of electricity by the high volume samplers located in permanent air monitoring stations via-a-vis the irregular power supply which created data gaps and rendered data from these stations unreliable.

He also identified the inability of EPA to promptly communicate health-based air quality information to the public due to lack of continuous air quality monitoring equipment as well as the lack of capacity for air shed modelling especially for thermal plant enclaves in Takoradi and Tema as other major challenges.

As part of the visit, Madam MaCarthy made a stop at Friends of the Earth (FoE), a not-for-profit environmental organization to examine one air quality monitoring device that is currently operated from the premises.

She also joined Women in Science and Leadership at the University of Ghana to speak on the challenges and the role of women in science and the environment.

Present at the discussion were Professor Yaa Ntiamoah-Badu, Executive Director of the Centre for African Wetlands; Professor Esther Sakyi-Dawson, Director of Academic quality Assurance and Lecturer of Food Science in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science; and Madam Christine Asare, Director for Strategic Environmental Assessment, EPA-GH.

The meeting resolved that to remove all barriers to the progression of women in science, women should identify support systems within the social system in order to rise to their full potentials, and stressed the need for husbands to encourage their wives, rather than feel threatened by their strength and potential.

On a visit to the Ghana Girl Guides Association, Madam McCarthy was introduced to various programmes undertaken by a number of environmental awareness groups including the Global Alliance for Clean Cook stoves, World Education, Ghana Girl Guides Association and CookClean Ghana.

Present at the event was the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Madam Hannah Tetteh, who indicated that management of the environment, though a Government responsibility, required concerted efforts from all stakeholders.

Mad Tetteh noted that it was the daily work habits and practices that continued to be the current movers of environmental destruction and, for that matter, dealing with the problem should be more preventive.”The more that we can do to prevent environmental garbage and learn about the world Climate Change, the better,” she emphasized.

Apart from the three meetings, Ms McCarthy is also expected to participate in discussions with the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Hon. Mahama Ayariga, and engage women fish processors in Cape Coast that use improved fish smokers that reduce emissions of polycyclic aromatic carbons, while decreasing post-harvest losses of fish and promoting efficiencies in fuel wood utilization.

In addition, she is expected to be part of a number of other dialogues that will contribute to improved environmental sanity and health.

Accra is one of the two cities in Africa to benefit from an Air Quality-Monitoring Capacity Building Project sponsored by the United Nations (UN) EPA with support from the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2004.

The programme, which resulted in the establishment of eight air quality-monitoring sites in residential, commercial and industrial areas of Accra in 2005, currently has over 16 sites, 14 of which are operational.

Source: Government of Ghana