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LIBERIAN REFUGEES IN GHANA: Environmental Security Implications of the Indiscriminate Disposal of Municipal Solid Waste

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Environmental Security Implications of the Indiscriminate
Disposal of Municipal Solid Waste


MAY 2012


Submitted to the faculty of Clark University, Worcester,
Massachusetts in partial fulfillment of the requirements for
the degree of Master of Arts in International Development and Social Change

And accepted on the recommendation of:

Professor Marianne Sarkis, Ph.D., Thesis Committee Chairperson

Professor Anita Häusermann Fábos, Ph.D., Member

Professor Jude Fernando, Ph.D., Member




Liberian refugees have been seeking refuge at the Buduburam Refugee Settlement (BRS) in Ghana for more than two decades. There have been two successfully held elections in Liberia since the end of the 14-year civil war in 2003. Drawing from these elections, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) terminated all humanitarian assistance to Liberian refugees in hope of a return. In spite of this, Liberian refugees continue to live at the BRS in deplorable sanitary conditions. This thesis explores the environmental security implications of the indiscriminate disposal of municipal solid waste in the local environment at the BRS.
In this study, I used a mixed methods approach to collect data through personal observations, freelists, pilesorts, surveys, semi-structured interviews, and focus groups directed with refugees, state and non-state actors. Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) data were collected from the sanitation team of the National Catholic Secretariat (NCS) at the BRS and the use of a Global Positioning System (GPS) to record waypoints of open dumpsites. The results indicate that the indiscriminate disposal of MSW in the local environment is associated with elevated increase of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), land pollution and the outbreak of water-borne diseases at the Buduburam Refugee Settlement.

Dr. Marianne Sarkis, Ph.D., Thesis Committee Chairperson

Dr. Anita H. Fabos, Ph.D., Member

Dr. Jude Fernando, Ph.D., Member

Name: Jenkins Divo Macedo                                                            Date: May 2012
Place of Birth: Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, Liberia       Date: January 1
Baccalaureate Degree:  Dual Bachelor of Science, Sociology & Geography with a concentration in Environmental Studies
Source: Worcester State University                                      Date: May 18, 2010
Position held:
·      Co-President (Master), Graduate Students Council, Clark University
·      Teacher Assistant, Research Methods in International Development, IDCE Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, from January 15 to May 20, 2012.
·      Research Assistant, Career Development, IDCE, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, from March 2011 to September 2011.
·      Research Assistant, Marsh Institute, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, March 2008 to December 2008.
Occupation and Academic Connections
·      Project Consultant, Project Management
·      Disaster Response and Crisis Counseling
·      IDCE Social Fellows
·      Compton International Environmental Sustainability Research Fellow
Academic Research Papers
·      Baccalaureate theses:
o   Integrating Refugees in the Host Country: A Case Study of Liberian Refugees in Ghana
o   The Environmental Impacts of Warehousing Refugees: A Case of the Buduburam Refugee Settlement
·      Re-thinking the War in Iraq: A Human Impacts Assessment

This research is dedicated to my mother Ms. Janet Barlee who fought the hardiest fight in the midst of extreme poverty and devastating 14 years of separation during the Liberian civil wars still kept her children closer in heart yet afar off. This study is also dedicated to the people of Ghana for their hospitalities demonstrated during the 21 years of refuge of Liberian refugees at the Buduburam Refugee Settlement of which I am a benefactor. Special dedication is also given to all the local community-based organizations at the Buduburam Refugee Settlement that sacrificed their time, resources in the total humanitarian absence of UNHCR in building hope for a people in destitution, frustration and helplessness.

I would like to thank Dr. Ellen Foley, Assistant Professor of International Development, Community, and Environment (IDCE), for being my academic advisor. Her thoughtfulness, brilliance and exceptional professionalism paved the way for my success. This thesis wouldn’t have been possible without acknowledging the diligence, commitment, critiques and guidance that I consistently received from my MA Thesis Committee. Dr. Marianne Sarkis chaired the committee and other members included Dr. Anita Häusermann Fábos and Dr. Jude Fernando.
It would be totally unfair if I fail to acknowledge the Compton Foundation Award Committees here at IDCE who after careful scrutinies selected my research prospectus for funding. It was through this instrument that my travel to Ghana in the summer of 2011 was successfully accomplished.
I am thankful to the Ghana Refugee Board (GRB), the Settlement Manager of the Buduburam Refugee Settlement and refugee community for accepting my application to implement this study. Their professional and unselfish hospitalities allowed me to successfully accomplish this task.
Finally, special thanks to Mr. Eric Saygbor, Mr. Anthony Carr, Mr. Benjamin Tubman, and Mr. Kinsman Collins who served as Research Assistants in the process of gathering data for this study. Your professional services to the people of Buduburam, Ghana and the global community will never be forgotten. 

List of Figures and Maps
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
   1.1. Statement of the Problem
   1.2. Research Focus
1.3. Rationale for the Study
1.4. Population and Location of the Study
1.5. Motivation for the Study
1.6. Narrative Outline of the Study

           2.1. Introduction
           2.2. Rethinking the Security Discourse
3.1. Introduction
3.2. Liberian Refugees in Ghana
3.3. The Buduburam Refugee Settlement
3.4. Ghana Refugee Policy
3.5. Environment and Health Conditions at Buduburam
3.6. Refugees’ Protests at the Buduburam Refugee Settlement
3.7. Protracted Refugee Situations

  4.1. Introduction
  4.2. Mixed Methods Research
  4.3. Unit of Analysis
           4.4. Ethical Considerations
           4.5. Sampling Strategies
           4.6. Data Collection
           4.7. Data Analysis

 5.1. Introduction
 5.2. Population Description
 5.3. Results of Freelists Descriptive Analyses
 5.4. Results of Pilesorts Average Link Cluster Analyses
             5.5. Environmental and Health Impacts of MSW

 6.1. Introduction
             6.2. Environmental Security Threats of MSW
 6.3. Recommendation for future Research

Appendix A. IRB Approval Letter
Appendix B. Ghana Refugee Board Approval Letter
Appendix C. National Institute of Health Certification
Appendix D. IRB Informed Consent Form
Appendix E. Consent Form to be Videotaped/Photographed
Appendix F. Recruitment Script
Appendix G. Interview Guide
Appendix H. Survey
Appendix I.  Freelists of Key Concepts
Appendix J.  Pilesorts of Key Concepts
Appendix K. Letter of Invitation for Focus Group Participants
Appendix L.  Focus Group Guide
Appendix M. Codebook
Appendix N. Research Timeline
Appendix O. Research Budget
Appendix P. Glossary

Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't]. The New England journal of medicine, 364(1), 33-42. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1012928


Figure 1: Refugee Camps in the Great Lakes Region, East Africa
Figure 2: Map of Ghana showing the Gomoa-East District
Figure 3: Map of Refugee Camps in Ghana
Figure 4: Major Regions of Ghana
Figure 5: Photo of Buduburam Pond
Figure 6: UNHCR/NCS MSW Disposal Team
Figure 7: Stuffed Drainage System at Buduburam
Figure 8: Human Feces from a Public Latrine Openly Disposed
Figure 9: Public Bathroom as Waste Disposal Site
Figure 10: Convergent Study Design
Figure 11: Sample Size Calculation Result
Figure 12: Percent of Households Randomly Sampled by Zones
Figure 13: Landfill at the Buduburam Refugee Settlement
Figure 14: Gender of Survey Respondents
Figure 15: Age of Survey Respondents
Figure 16: Marital Status of Survey Respondents
Figure 17: Levels of Education of Respondents
Figure 18: Employment Status of Survey Respondents
Figure 19: Source of Income of Respondents
Figure 20: Ethnicity of Survey Respondents
Figure 21: Years of Entry in Ghana
Figure 22: Refugee Status of Respondents
Figure 23: Years of Stay at the BRS in Ghana
Figure 24: Respondents’ Traveled out of Ghana
Figure 25: Average-Link Cluster of Human Security
Figure 26: Average-Link Cluster of Environmental Security
Figure 27: NCS Sanitation Team Member at the Landfill
Figure 28: Respondents’ Relationship with the Environment
Figure 29: MSW Dumpsite 25 at Buduburam
Figure 30: MSW Dumpsite 132 at Buduburam
Figure 31: Respondents’ Care for the Environment
Figure 32: Respondents’ Familiarity with the MSW System
Figure 33: Dumpster Located in Respondents’ Community
Figure 34: Respondents’ Use of Community Dumpsters
Figure 35: Respondents’ Use of Other Forms of Solid Waste Disposal
Figure 36: Other Methods of MSW Disposal at the Camp
Figure 37: Refugees’ use of other MSW Disposal Techniques
Figure 38: Daily Household Composition of MSW Production
Figure 39: Respondents’ who Recycle MSW
Figure 40: Composition of MSW Recycled by Refugees
Figure 41: A Local Recycling Center at the Camp
Figure 42: Bags of Sachet Water at the Buduburam Refugee Settlement
Figure 43: Waste Composition and Treaded by NCS Team
Figure 44: Map of MSW Disposal Sites at the BRS
Figure 45: Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Recycled and Disposed MSW
Figure 46:  Methane Emissions from Waste in Ghana (1980-2000)
Figure 47: Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Recycling in t CO2-eq/yr
Figure 48: Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Disposal of MSW

Table 1: Composition of Refugees and Asylum-seekers in Ghana
Table 2: Categories of the IFEU’s MSW GHG Emissions Calculation
Table 3: Respondents’ Definition of Refugees
Table 4: Respondents’ Descriptions of the Meaning of Refugee Protection
Table 5: Respondents’ Description of Living Conditions at the Camp
Table 6: Description of Environmental Security
Table 7: IFEU’s MSW Classification and Default Values for LIE

AFAL      Assistance For All Liberians
BRS         Buduburam Refugee Settlement
BNWT     Buduburam Neighborhood Watch Team
CBW       Children Better Way
DOS        Disk Operating System
DRC        Democratic Republic of Congo
ES           Environmental Security
GCS       Global Coordinate System
GHG      Greenhouse Gas
GHS       Ghana Health Services
GIS        Ghana Immigration Services
GNPS    Ghana National Police Services
GNFS    Ghana National Fire Services
GoIC     Government of Ivory Coast
GoG      Government of Ghana
GPS       Global Positioning System
GRB      Ghana Refugee Board
GRL      Ghana Refugee Law
HDR      Human Development Report
IC          International Community
IDCE     International Development, Community, and Environment
IDPs      Internally Displaced Persons
IFEU     Institute for Energy and Environmental Research
IPCC     Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
IRB       Institutional Review Board
LIE       Low Income Economies
LPC      Liberian Peace Council
LRWC Liberian Refugee Welfare Council
LURD   Liberian United for Reconciliation and Democracy
MODEL Movement for Democracy in Liberia
MoD     Ministry of Defense-Ivory Coast
MoI       Ministry of Interior-Ghana
MSW    Municipal Solid Waste
NADMO National Disaster Management Organization
NCS     National Catholic Secretariat
NHIS   National Health Insurance Scheme
NIH     National Institute of Health
NMP   National Mobilization Programme
NPFL  National Patriotic Front of Liberia
PCO    Population Caring Organization
PH       Point Hope
PRS     Protracted Refugee Situations
RUF    Revolutionary United Front
PVC     Polyvinyl Chloride
RBC    Refuge Baptist Church
RAs     Research Assistants
RMC   Refugee Management Committee
SCGATC Standing Committee of the Gomoa Akyempim Traditional Council
SGCC   St. Gregory Catholic Clinic
SM        Settlement Manager
SPSS     Statistical Package for the Social Sciences
SRS      Simple Random Sampling
SWDS   Solid Waste Disposal Sites
TWA    Total Waste Amount
UNDP  United Nations Development Program
UNHCR United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
UN       United Nations
USG     United States Government


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