‘Westernizing’ solid waste management practices in Accra, Ghana - a case of ‘negotiated waste collection’

  • Martin Oteng-Ababio University of Ghana
  • Ebenezer Nikoi University of Ghana
Keywords: Solid waste management, Westernization, Negotiated waste, collection, Accra, Ghana


Managing solid waste in Ghana remains a critical challenge. To
date, attempts to remediate the problem using ‘best practices’
prototype from Western countries have yielded elusive responses in
low-income communities where such models are incompatible with
local development trajectories. While city authorities remain defiant
to this policy mismatch, the environmental and health implications
associated with the practice are mounting in urgency. Using
Accra, the national economic and administrative hub, as a case
study, we argue that waste policy designed to reduce unsanitary
conditions can be counter-productive if it ignores context-specific
complexities. Contrary to popular wisdom, this paper argues that
there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer for the quest for an efficient,
effective, and affordable waste management system. Instead, each
solution must be tailored to its specific social, cultural, and political
context, with the direct involvement of service beneficiaries, and
integrated with indigenously derived strategies. While not a cure-all
‘solution,’ the paper is optimistic that this kind of publicly engaged
process can provide some understanding and create approaches
for coping with waste management complexity