SHEATHE: Xenobiotic substances and heavy metals in the environment – a threat to health, ecosystems and development in Ghana

Reconnaisances Survey


The research team undertook an initial familiarization visit to some parts of Ghana where the activities taking place in the area have a direct bearing on the SHEATHE project. Areas visited are sites for heavy artisanal mining (galamsey) activities. The team visited Bolgatanga, Gbanii and Kongo, all in the Upper East Region of Ghana. The team also took a trip to Tarkwa in the Western Region and Dunkwa-on-Offin in the Central Region. Tarkwa, in particular, is home to some commercial mining firms and activities here are not entirely small-scale.

The team made many interesting observations which laid further credence to the fact that a nationwide pollution assessment is necessary for Ghana’s development in the medium to long term. It was interesting to note that galamsey was everywhere, especially in the towns visited in the Upper West Region. Large pits have been dug in the homes of many people where gold explorations were being carried out. “Galamsey in the home”, you might call it.  The inhabitants were solely dependent on galamsey for their survival. It is the mainstay of livelihood for these people. Unfortunately, safety considerations are non-existent. Apart from the commercial set-ups where safety is rigorously enforced, almost all the artisanal operators have no knowledge of the safety requirements of the job they do. Hence, they are regularly exposed to dangerous chemicals in their quest to put food on the table for the family. The health implications in the immediate and long term are damning.


In all, these trips were successful. The team got to know, at first-hand, some of the communities where the studies will be focused. They also had the opportunity to engage both the local people as well opinion leaders in these communities. In all, the findings of the survey were satisfactory.


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