SEA profile

Updated to: 20 August 2019

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Contact & history

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Country contact on SEA

Environmental Protection Agency
P.O. Box, M326
Location: 91 Starlets Road
Accra, Ghana

Email: info@epa.gov.gh
Phone: 0302 664697-8 / 0302 662690

History of SEA

Although Ghana has not provided a strong legal basis for SEA, nor any detailed procedural requirements, SEA practice has been steadily increasing in the past 20 years. A range of SEAs is undertaken, and there has been consistent SEA capacity development work ongoing.

As regards the conduct of SEA, a distinction can be made between first and second generation SEAs. First generation SEAs were being conducted as extended EIAs, following the same logic and structure but focussed at larger projects, i.e. integrated or complex programmes. Second generation SEAs have adopted a more process oriented approach. Specific SEA tools were developed as a result and spin off of the SEA undertaken for the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy in 2003-04. 

Review of SEA practice in Ghana, EPA 2009, by Jan Joost Kessler, Evans Darko Mensah and Seth Larmie

Legal framework for SEA

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Framework/Enabling law

With respect to current legislation, the question is to what extent it would cover the need for SEA. The EIA regulations refer to 'undertakings', including plans and programmes, which would suggest that a gap exists for policies. However, the whole regulation points more to EIA. It therefore seems to be better to work towards SEA legislation/regulations with properly defined guidelines and procedures.

The National Development Planning Commission in Ghana issues guidelines for the preparation of sector and district plans. There prescribe certain SEA tools such as a sustainability test. But NDPC guidelines do not appear to be legally binding.

National detailed SEA regulation

Allthough there is no legal framework for SEA, there is the so-called Ghana SEA approach, characterised by a certain sequence of steps and a set of SEA tools. This approach was initiated by the experience of using SEA for the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy, which set a benchmark for subsequent SEAs carried out under the guidance of EPA.

In 2016 there was a draft SEA regulation, but EPA had two minds about it, either to have it separate or to amend the current EIA regulation and change it into a part I and II. A consultancy was commissioned to assess the various options:

  1. separate SEA regulation
  2. SEA regulation part of EIA regulation
  3. relying on SEA requirements by the National Development Planning Commission for sectors and districts 
  4. changes in the Act and Law.

EPA preferred the second option, but there has not been any progress on this yet. 

Therefore the current EIA regulation provide the framework for SEA, as it requires environmental assessment for undertakings which may impact the environment. An Undertaking is defined as: any enterprise, activity scheme of development, construction, project,  structure, building, work, investment, plan, programme and any modification,  extension,  abandonment, demolition, rehabilitation or decommissioning of such undertaking, the  implementation of which may have a significant impact.

SEA brochure, Ghana EPA, 2009

Draft implementation framework for operationalizing SEA in Ghana, 2016. 

Sector specific procedures/regulations

The approach to SEA as used in the various SEA's conducted in Ghana shows variation.

The SEA of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy can be characterised by two different streams. One is the analysis of the GPRS in its totality at national level, the other is the analysis of district level plans. Both streams are aimed at mainstreaming environment and complement each other.

Sectoral SEA: in the different manuals and SEA applications there is a different sequence of steps and use of tools. Commenly encountered steps in sectoral SEA can be viewed under the heading 'SEA approach'.

District level SEA: a handbook has been prepared to outline the approach to be adopted for SEA at District level, including an elaboration of SEA tools, a proposed workplan and an outline of the resulting SEA report

Review of SEA practice in Ghana, feb. 2009, main report, chapter 5

Guidelines

The National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) has issued planning guidelines, which include a 'sustainability test' that examines the environmental and social impacts of the proposed projects and programmes as well as an 'internal consistency and external compatibility test'. Both are 'SEA tools'. See www.ndpc-cms.herokuapp.com, where these guidelines can be found both for sectors and for districts.

Scope of SEA application

National policies and strategies, sector plans and district plans.

SEA approach

The SEA approach chosen in Ghana is rather EIA-based, applying the EIA procedure to planning.

Institutional setting for SEA

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Central SEA authority

Environmental Protection Authority, particularly the SEA unit, plays a guiding and coordinating role in most SEA processes

Initiator of the SEA

The initiative to conduct SEA is generally taken by a donor, in collaboration with a sectoral agency an/or EPA. Most SEAs are conducted with a strong involvement of EPA whereby management responsibilities are generally shared with other government agencies, such as the National Development Planning Commission, sectoral ministries and agencies or districts.  

SEA procedure

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Overview SEA procedure

In the different manuals and SEA applications according to the ‘Ghana SEA approach’, frequently the following sequence of basic steps to SEA can be found (see below). Reference is made to these steps but in practice not all SEAs follow these steps. In practice, some steps receive more emphasis (steps 1, 2, 4, 5 and 8) while others receive limited attention (steps 3, 6, 7 and 9).

Basic steps of SEA

Step 1: Screening. Understanding the context, writing the ToR, describing the PPP
Step 2: Scoping. Determining objectives and targets, scope of the SEA (content, timescale, key issues)
Step 3: Defining baseline conditions. Existing environmental conditions against which impacts can be measured, using quantitative and qualitative data.
Step 4: Evaluating the proposed PPP. Evaluate effectiveness of PPP.
Step 5: Predicting effects. Assessment of the environmental effects of the PPP.
Step 6: Developing environmental indicators.
Step 7: Considering alternatives. Alternatives to achieve the same objectives of the PPPs.
Step 8: Scope for mitigation. Recommendations are made for new or refined PPPs.
Step 9: Monitoring and evaluation.

SEA brochure, EPA, 2009

Establishing context

Implementing the SEA

Informing and influencing decision-making

Follow up

SEA practice

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Annual no. of SEAs

Since 2002, around 20 'second generation' SEAs have been undertaken, which implies 2-3 SEAs per year. 

Review of SEA practice in Ghana, feb. 2009, main report and personal communication, EPA

Central SEA database

There is no central SEA database. In the 'Review of SEA practise in Ghana' report of February 2009, an annex records the main characterictics of SEAs undertaken until 2009 in a systematic way (around 30). For 10 out of these, a more elaborate case study was made (appendix to main report). The case studies are a representative sample of first and second generation SEAs, district and sectoral level SEAs, and finalized and ongoing SEAs.

Review of SEA practice in Ghana, feb. 2009, main report 

Professional bodies

IAIA-Ghana affilitate, which over 80 members of which around 25 are actively involved with its activities