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From Clans to Cleanliness: Homowo Clean up flavour

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By Major Gershom Gameli, Military Officer

The pressing issue of environmental cleanliness in Ghana has long been a concern. Despite numerous initiatives by governments and private individuals, sustainable success of such laudable programmes has been elusive. In this regard, a leading waste management conglomerate in Africa, the JOSPONG GROUP, is partnering with the Ga Traditional Council to launch the HOMOWO CLEAN UP CAMPAIGN. This novel, community-centred approach aims to revitalize environmental health and cleanliness through traditional mobilization. The uniqueness of this campaign lies in its integration of traditional structures and modern state agencies.

Supported by relevant state agencies such as the Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council, Metropolitan Assemblies, Environmental Health Officers, security services, and the general public, this initiative seeks to activate a latent group of stakeholders whose mandate is deeply rooted in tradition rather than in coded law. Specifically, the campaign empowers the Asafoatsemei and Asafoanyemei, traditional guards and youth leaders, to act as local ambassadors of a clean society. Their inherent role in traditional mobilization positions them ideally to galvanize the youth in their communities and spearhead efforts toward a cleaner and healthier environment.

The Asafoatsemei and Asafoanyemei hold significant sway within their communities, representing their respective clans and serving as the grease of societal functions, especially in organizing communal labor. Mandating and empowering these traditional leaders in this campaign will instill a sense of ownership and responsibility within the community. This grassroots approach ensures that the enforcement of sanitation regulations and bye-laws is domesticated within traditions, thereby embedding these practices into the daily routines and cultural norms of the people.

A critical aspect of this campaign is its operational framework, which positions the Asafoatsemei taskforce as enforcers under the auspices of Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) within the various Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs). While the traditional leaders do not possess prosecutorial powers, their role as enforcers under the guidance of EHOs ensures that there is structured and legal backing to their efforts. This collaboration between traditional authority and modern statutory bodies creates a robust mechanism for maintaining environmental cleanliness.

The campaign, which was officially launched by the Ga Mantse, King Tackie Teiko Tsuru, marks the beginning of a series of training sessions in collaboration with the Regional Coordinating Council. A total of 390 Asafoatsemei, drawn from 13 clans within the Ga State, were assembled and trained from Tuesday, June 25, to Thursday, June 27, 2024. This training aimed to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively lead the campaign in their communities.

One of the notable strengths of this campaign is its focus on community ownership. Previous campaigns have often failed due to a lack of sustained community involvement and ownership. By engaging traditional leaders, who command respect and have the ability to mobilize the youth, this campaign seeks to embed the principles of cleanliness and responsible sanitary practices within the cultural fabric of the community. This approach not only enhances the likelihood of sustained success but also fosters a sense of pride and responsibility among community members.

The ultimate goal of the HOMOWO CLEAN UP CAMPAIGN is to create a sustainable model that can be replicated across other traditional domains in Ghana. Piloting this initiative within the Ga State and ensuring its success will demonstrate the efficacy of leveraging traditional structures for modern environmental health challenges. Once adequately sustained, this model has the potential to transform the landscape of environmental health and cleanliness across the country.

Tswaaa, Ni Omanye Ablaw! Yaaaw!

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