Rising to the challenge: Environment and sanitation officer makes a difference

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Marcelline Nyavi arrived in Accra from Kpedze, a small village in the Volta Region, in search of greener pastures only to find himself in Ho a few years later. He had enrolled in Ho School of Hygiene against his wish. Nyavi was clueless what he was doing at the school and where his life was headed afterwards. He was there because his brother wanted him to. After graduation in 2005, he was posted to the Ga East Municipal Assembly (GEMA) where he became a deputy to the then Municipal Environmental Health Officer.

“I did not even know what they do at the School of Hygiene until my brother asked me to go there,” Nyavi said. “I wanted to leave, but school was fun and I love learning so I stayed.”

Nyavi excelled at his job as a junior sanitation inspection officer at the Madina zonal office. Soon, he was given the opportunity to work without supervision, because his former boss found him capable of working alone. Shortly after, he was promoted to the position of a deputy sanitation inspection officer.

“My former boss found me to be too qualified for my job at the time,” Nyavi said. “In less than a month, he made me his deputy after being posted to the Headquarters of the Assembly at Abokobi,” Nyavi said.

The passion for fieldwork and scholarship led Nyavi to Kumasi Polytechnic (now a technical university) to read Advanced Diploma in Estates Management and later to Regent University College where he was awarded a degree in Accounting and Information Systems Technology.

However, the extra academic achievements did not get Nyavi out of the Environment and Sanitation Office as he thought would happen. In his mind, the estates office would give him more opportunities to be in the fields than his department at the time will, but his boss had other plans.

“My boss did not allow me to leave environment for estates even when I wanted to,” Nyavi said. “He said I cannot help him if I left because I was in charge of all the office work and so he kept me here.”

It has been 14 years now, and Nyavi still works at environment and sanitation, but as one of the senior officers enforcing new sanitation by-laws under the Operation Clean Ga East campaign. Currently, he is the officer in charge of Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) unit responsible at the Assembly responsible for household toilet construction.

The process to gazette new by-laws has started and soon, they will become a working document for GEMA, legally binding on all residents within the Municipality.

Nyavi is leading a three-member team who drafted the new by-laws with support from the Municipal Chief Executive and the Director of GEMA.

His Office also oversees the construction of improved toilet facilities in the Municipality under a sanitation project sponsored by the World Bank.

“When you talk about saman saman (summoning residents for non-compliance with sanitation by-laws) you are talking about household rubbish and poor toilet facilities,” Nyavi explained.

Under Nyavi’s leadership, over 1,300 low-income households in Abokobi, Dome, Ashongman, Agbogba, and other areas in the Ga East Municipality now have access to highly subsidized bio-digester toilet facilities.

“Supporting households with bio-digester toilets help residents to adopt good sanitation practices.”

The construction of toilet facilities and house-to-house sanitation and health inspection exercises put Nyavi in the field as he had always wanted. As a matter of personal interest, he delights in educating households about good hygiene and sanitation practices rather than serving sanitation offenders with warning notices.

Source: Fidel Tetteh || Department of Communication Studies, University of Ghana






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