Data on water situation in Ghana: Data mismatch- GWJN Report

Data on water situation in Ghana: Data mismatch- GWJN Report
Executives of GWJN

By: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH

The Ghana WASH Journalists Network (GWJN) formerly known as Ghana Watsan Journalists Network a voluntary not-for-profit organization comprising Ghanaian journalists who are interested in using their professional skills to promote high-quality standards in the country’s water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector has revealed that the water situation on the ground does not support data available.

According to GWJN, statistically, authorities from the sector can say that Ghana is on the path to achieving universal access to safe and affordable drinking water by the due date (2030) as targeted under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 6. Among others, SDG 6 promotes universal equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all, the implementation of integrated water resource management at all levels, and the improvement of water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping, and minimizing the release of hazardous chemicals and materials into water bodies but their findings from the grounds do not support these claim.

The GWJN made these revelations at the launch of its video documentary dubbed: “Sustainability of safe water supply in Ghana” at the Accra International Press Center.

It explained that its findings from the survey are divided under various themes, including I. State of Water Bodies, ii. Access and Equity iii. Quality& Safety, and IV. Sustainability.

On the state of water bodies, it maintained that evidence from Ashanti (River Oda near Obuasi) and Western (Pra and Ankobrah) regions, as depicted in the video documentary, shows the persistence of water pollution on account of illegal mining popularly called galamsey. In the Greater Accra region evidence of water, pollution persists as River Densu with its source in the Atiwa Forest reserve in the Eastern region is highly polluted by the uncontrolled use of agrochemicals, breaching of the buffers along the river, and unauthorized and unhealthy fishing methods.

The direct linkage between the state of water bodies, access, and equity it says cannot be overemphasized, since these water bodies serve as the source of raw water for treatment to serve mostly the urban communities in Ghana. The state of these water bodies has a direct impact on Access& Equity. “The pollution puts enormous financial pressure on GWCL, as the company has to spend more money to acquire more chemicals for water treatment, and this also compels the company to service its machinery more frequently than normal. As seen from Odaso, the company’s facility is only able to treat water at half capacity due to the high turbidity of the raw water due to galamsey activities. This means water rationing is the only way those communities can be served.”

The group maintained that there are still gaps in access as seen in certain communities that do not have GWCL distribution networks connected to them. Tomefa and Nsuoano (Frafraha) in Greater Accra, Daboase, in the Western region, Ninting in the Ashanti Region, and Damongo in the Savannah region are some examples.

Some of these communities it explained resort to wells and dams, some of which they share with animals, and some also dry up in the dry season. The relatively affluent in these communities either buy water from water tanks or sink boreholes. In some of these communities, children and women walk long distances to access the only water sources available. But generally, sachet water is the only safe drinking water available to some of them with its financial burden on households.

Below is an unedited Press Statement from GWJN

PRESS STATEMENT BY THE GHANA WASH JOURNALISTS NETWORK (GWJN) ON THE STATE OF WATER BODIES IN GHANA ON THURSDAY, MARCH 31, 2022

The Director for Water at the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, or his representative, Representative of the Executive Secretary of the Water Resources Commission (WRC), Representative of the Managing Director of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL, Representative of Community Water and Sanitation Agency, WaterAid Ghana, Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation, colleague members of the Ghana GWJN, colleague media practitioners, ladies and gentlemen, we welcome all of you to this press briefing on the State of Water Bodies in Ghana Report-2022.

We are particularly grateful to you for responding to this invitation at such short notice. And we duly apologize for inviting you on such short notice.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here to inform authorities, stakeholders, and the nation as a whole of our findings on the state of water bodies in Ghana after working visits to selected water bodies in four regions of Ghana.

Statistically, we can say that Ghana is on the path to achieving universal access to safe and affordable drinking water by the due date (2030) as targeted under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 6. Among others, SDG 6 promotes universal equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all, the implementation of integrated water resource management at all levels, and the improvement of water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping, and minimizing the release of hazardous chemicals and materials into water bodies.

The framers of the SDGs had in mind the direct linkage target 1 (access) has with targets 3 and 5, which promote quality and sustainability, because without sustainably managing water resources in an integrated manner, and without reducing all aspects of water pollution, achieving target 1 sustainably would be difficult.

The above statistics and many others notwithstanding, GWJN, with support from WaterAid Ghana and Roddenberry Foundation’s 1 Global Fund decided to find out what the state of some major water bodies in the country is because this is what will determine how the present and future generations in Ghana would have access to safe and affordable drinking water. The network worked in four groups in four regions, of Savannah, Western, Ashanti, and Greater Accra.

Our findings are divided under various themes, including i. State of Water Bodies, ii Access& Equity iii Quality& Safety, IV. Sustainability.

I. Evidence from Ashanti (River Oda near Obuasi) and Western (Pra and Ankobrah) regions, as depicted in the video documentary, shows the persistence of water pollution on account of illegal mining popularly called galamsey. In the Greater Accra region evidence of water, pollution persists as River Densu with its source in the Atiwa Forest reserve in the Eastern region is highly polluted by the uncontrolled use of agrochemicals, breaching of the buffers along the river, and unauthorized and unhealthy fishing methods.

II. The direct linkage between the state of water bodies, access, and equity cannot be overemphasized since these water bodies serve as the source of raw water for treatment to serve mostly the urban communities in Ghana. The state of these water bodies has a direct impact on Access& Equity. The pollution puts enormous financial pressure on GWCL, as the company has to spend more money to acquire more chemicals for water treatment, and this also compels the company to service its machinery more frequently than normal. As seen from Odaso, the company’s facility is only able to treat water at half capacity due to the high turbidity of the raw water due to galamsey activities. This means water rationing is the only way those communities can be served.

There are also gaps in access as seen in certain communities that do not have GWCL distribution networks connected to them. Tomefa and Nsuoano (Frafraha)in Greater Accra, Daboase, in the Western region, Ninting in the Ashanti region, and Damongo in the Savannah region are some examples. Some of these communities resort to wells and dams, some of which they share with animals, and some also dry up in the dry season. The relatively affluent in these communities either buy water from water tanks or sink boreholes. In some of these communities, children and women walk long distances to access the only water sources available. But generally, sachet water is the only safe drinking water available to some of them with its financial burden on households.

III. There are concerns about the safety of some of these water sources, as in some communities, the sachet water the people depend on is from questionable production sources while many of those who sink the boreholes and wells did not get expert advice on them.

IV. Besides the cost burden water pollution imposes on GWCL, the situation also feeds into Climate Change as some water bodies and rivers dry up each year, which is another challenge to a regular safe water supply. Some boreholes which used to produce water all year round now suffer irregular supply because of rainfall variability arising from climate change phenomena.

IMPACT:

These challenges hamstring the country’s effort to achieve the SDG target 6.1 and 6.3 which urge the implementation of integrated water resource management at all levels and create the problem of safety, sustainability ad equity in water service delivery.

Also, infectious diseases of dermatological, including worm infestation, typhoid, diarrhea, (Damongo, Daboase), and skin diseases (Tomefa) are still prevalent in many of these communities.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

To hasten the progress towards achieving the SDG target 6 on water and its related goals on sanitation, health, and many others, the GWJN, with its partners recommends that:

Stakeholders should revisit the national strategy for protecting water bodies. In particular, Traditional Authority, Religious Leaders, and Youth Groups should be engaged proactively to support the anti-galamsay fight in some communities in the Western, Ashanti, and Eastern Regions of Ghana

An educational and strict enforcement approach should be adopted where polluters remain recalcitrant towards rules governing water bodies

MMDAs should be motivated to apply to play their required roles in protecting water bodies across the country

WRC, GWCL, Lands Commission, Forestry Commission, and other stakeholders should collaborate with MOFA and the Ministry of fisheries and Aquaculture Development to curb the use of hazardous chemicals and unapproved fishing and farming methods around water bodies.

The WRC should be given more financial, human, and material resources as well as logistics such as vehicles to intensify regular monitoring of water bodies in collaboration with the MMDAs and community leaders.

Stronger efforts must be made through best our town and country planning practices to reverse the trend of growth in human habitats preceding the provision of important utilities, especially water

GWCL and CWSA must collaborate to bridge the gaps that exist in urban and peri-urban water systems

GWCL should as a matter of urgency consider using the provision of water for communities close to their intakes and treatment facilities as a kind of CSR, with subsidized tariffs as an incentive for communal support for protecting water resources.

Regulations for commercial drinking water production and supply, borehole drilling, and private water distribution must be strictly enforced to ensure water safety for consumers

Water is life and all efforts must be made to ensure this life flows to every individual.

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