Why does my community need the NOISE Pollution Project?

By Yao A. Foli

The definition, story, memory, and understanding of noise by the community could be the guideline to community engagement, education, and awareness about noise pollution.

The experience and the memories of the stories at noise-exposed workplaces by community members provide detail about the unawareness and the awareness of noise pollution. Many are aware it’s loud at the cornmill but, due to frequent visiting the cornmill and families had to be fed, people are used to the noise of corn mill machines without complaining.

What will support and explain to our community the effect of loud sound or noise? There is difference in hearing sound or noise for the first time than used to hearing the same sound. How would we explain or help our communities understand this unseen phenomenon? I have interviewed a carpenter that use power machines, bikers, tools sharpener (operate grinding wheel for sharpening knifes and cutlasses), and cornmill operators. I like to share briefly the conversations I had with three community members from different workplace, but what they have in common at their workplace is noise: Dan (carpenter), Soglo (tools sharpener), and Michael (biker).

The only person I saw wearing ear plugs was the carpenter. During my early morning errands before heading to the farm, I was walking, and I heard the sound of powered sandpaper machine.

Dan at the workshop.

I was curious to know who was working and this was a great chance to talk about noise pollution. I greeted and did self-introduction.

I talked about the purpose of me walking over for a noise pollution conversation and survey. I asked Dan, why do you use ear plugs? Dan answered, not only to prevent hearing lost but also to prevent dust from entering my ears. So far, Dan was the only one I met with ear plugs at work and aware about how important it is to protect the ears. I hope Dan is helping in educating his fellow workmates about noise pollution and its effects and the importance of protecting or ear during operation.

Soglo working with the tool sharpener.

Soglo works as a cornmill operator and tools sharpener. This means Soglo is exposed to two different noise level during operation, one at a time. I asked, how long have you been working here? Soglo replied, seven years. “I started working here right after I completed my apprenticeship”. My nest question was, does the loud noise from the cornmill machine affect you? Soglo replied, it does not. Does the loud noise from the machines affect your hearing? Soglo answered, no it does not. My last question was what your first experience been exposed to the noise at workplace compared to today? Soglo replied: “at the begging, it was difficult for me to hear someone talking when operating the cornmill machine but, now I am used to the noise and can hear what others try to speak”. My follow up question for Soglo was what do you think about the variation in hearing ability from the beginning experience to the hearing ability today? Does the variation in hearing ability a sign, what does that mean? 

Yao and Michael.

Michael uses his motorbike as a taxi giving rides to people from morning till evening. Sometimes he does night shift with his bike depending on the season. It was in the evening and I was standing by the roadside waiting for a taxi. Here comes a motor bike and he said, “you going to town?” I replied yes, I am. After I paid Michael for his service, I asked please may I ask you a question? It is ok to say no, I understand you are working. Michael said go ahead and I asked, how long have you been working with your bike? Michael replied five years. I continued, does the sound of the bike disturb you? Michael said: “yes, the sound from the engine disturbs my hearing”. I asked can you describe the disturbance caused by the sound of the motor to your hearing. Michael answered, “every time I turn off the engine. I hear a ringing sound in my ears, and I don’t know what that means or is. Sometimes we use ear plugs to prevent this ringing effect,” Michael says. I asked why do you j5GHC equals to $1.

I was on Heritage FM 107.3 in Hohoe, Ghana, to talk about the community-led science project on noise pollution: The NOISE Project. This is the second time Heritage FM radio station has given the opportunity to share light on our work. The feedback from listeners was encouraging and showed how concerned or affected some people are about noise pollution.

Yao at Heritage FM radio station.

It’s interesting listening and learning from the experiences, stories, and memories of community members exploring noise pollution in their understanding. I shared the ICBOs noise pollution brochure which provided further information on noise pollution, the education materials on noise pollution from the ICBOs (Independent Community-based Organizations) was well-received by all the three chiefs I met with, and the community members… to be continued.