Was Accra how I expected?

Witnessing the creations of new builds dotted around the capital city, especially numerous malls, displayed the recent development of Ghana. What I found striking was the huge divide between the people working in and visiting the innovative builds to the surrounding poor locals begging and living in poor conditions. During the trip one night myself and some of my course friends made a trip to the local Accra Mall for some dinner. A football game was being shown on the TV in the restaurant where we were eating and I noticed locals outside trying to capture the game peering through. I then looked back at the Ghanaian people inside the restaurant watching the game and reflected back to the people outside demonstrating the disparity in wealth. This visible divide is something that is expected in developing cities in a developing country, however, it is something I did not prepare myself quite for.  The chaotic roads of Accra was an experience that was quite different to what I expected. I have been lucky enough to have travelled around South East Asia and also Uganda so I have experienced some reckless and disordered driving in the past but the driving in Accra is at a new level. During our trip we found out that the shortage of electricity in Ghana has only been a recent problem and this means that traffic lights don’t really exist. Therefore, junctions are chaotic with vehicles jammed in a jigsaw pattern and with no order it can take hours to clear. When we visited the Public School of Health a woman told us how she has to leave her home at 6am in order to arrive for 9am for what should be a 30 minute journey. On the way back from our day trip to Cape Coast we were traveling back late afternoon when the roads were getting busier and we got ourselves stuck in a pile up at a junction and we ended up taking a vehicles wing mirror off which didn’t seem to alarm anyone at all! Pavements also don’t seem to exist in Accra so large amounts of people walk at the side of the roads adding to the chaos.

Upon arrival I expected large amounts of rubbish and dirt to be scattered around the city which is what we were met with. During the trip many of us thought we had gained a tan but after a shower at the end of the day we realised it was unfortunately just dirt.

The locals in Accra drink their water from sachets as they are the cheapest source but this creates huge amounts of litter. During our trip we visited a local social enterprise called ‘Trashy  Bags’ which was set up in 2007 with an aim to reduce litter and provide jobs for women with babies. Their initial creation was a ‘bag for life’ made out of the empty sachets patch worked together. Since then trashy bags have recycled bill boards and all sorts of waste to create fashionable bags and items which lots of us purchased. It was great to meet an organisation that has addressed the waste problem in a creative way and are making money!

Take a look at their website:  http://www.trashybags.org

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