My boyfriend is on the board of Relief International, and I’m in Accra, Ghana with him while he attends RI’s board meeting. Ghana has the fastest growing economy in Africa due to its wealth of natural resources, yet in rural areas poverty is pervasive. RI has implemented several programs in Ghana to improve sanitation, purify water and most impressively, advance the use of energy efficient stoves. The Gyapa stove cuts charcoal use by half, saves money and reduces carbon emissions.
In addition, the production and manufacture of Gyapa stoves has created many jobs. We were able to visit stores that sell the stoves, restaurants that use the stoves, the ceramic plant that employs 50 people who make the heat-insulating liners and two metal workers. One of them, Peter, works out of the Accra garbage dump, where he is able to easily find the recyclable tin that is used to make the body of the stove.
The dump is massive and nothing like anything I’ve seen before. It’s a community of people who work and live there and sort different items into huge piles that eventually get recycled. It was inspiring for me to see how every product finds its pile, and to see waste being reused in such an effective way.
Because my main interest is clothing and how to effectively reduce its carbon footprint, I was drawn to a pile of flip-flops that I saw on my way in. Flip-flops are purely disposable shoes that, as you can see from these photos, are terrible for the environment. I urge everyone to purchase items with a long life to avoid more and more piles like this from accumulating in the world.
For more info on RI, the countries they work in and their programs in Ghana, visit http://www.ri.org/