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GHANA’S WATER CRISIS; WHO CAUSED IT?

Water is essential to the existence of man and all living things. Amid the natural resources available to mankind, water holds a prominent place, due to its importance for human livelihood sustenance. All people, no matter their stage of development and their socio-economic conditions, have the right to have access to drinking water in quantities and of a quality equal to their basic needs . Water is a cross-cutting element of the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS II) of the Republic of Ghana and is linked to all eight of the Millennium Development Goals. Improving water services and uses are essential for increasing hygiene and sanitation service levels that affect productive lives of people. Health, nutrition and food production, are dependent on the availability of water in adequate quantities and good quality. With no doubt, water plays a critical role in the growth of Ghana’s economy.

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Water, or the lack of it, is one of the biggest issues facing urban Africa, which will see a 66 percent population increase to 1.2 billion people by 2050, according to the United Nations. Despite the importance of potable water to the socio-economic development of the country, the resource is gradually becoming a scarce commodity in Ghana. With the main sources of water for household use are piped supply, rivers, boreholes,  harvested rainwater and streams, the Global Water Project forecast that six West African Countries, including Ghana, may experience water scarcity by 2025 mainly due to the expected rate of growth in population . Interestingly, Ghana has started experiencing water scarcity in most parts of the country. Drought, coupled with illegal mining activities, as well as unsafe environmental practices has conspired to make raw water sources unproductive for a country that seeks to achieve universal coverage by 2025.

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With the current development, people in the affected areas have to travel long distances in order to have access to water, which is sometimes unwholesome. People of Nsawam Adoagyiri were no left of the hook as they are battling an acute water shortage due to the drying up of the Densu River, the source of raw water for the Nsawam Water Treatment Plant of the Ghana Water Company Limited, the sole urban water provider in Ghana. Also, towns and villages in the northern part of Ghana are suffering from this situation as rivers and streams are drying up without mercy. As if that is not enough, portions around Ho, Dambai, Nkwanta, and areas in the Northern Volta have also been battling water shortages since the beginning of the year, while parts of the coastal Western and Central Regions are also facing similar challenges.

“Rivers are our main sources of raw material and so if these rivers dry up, there is nothing we can do but to wait till they get filled up again,” said Stanley Martey, Communications Manager of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL). He mentioned that the GWCL was making preparations to drill boreholes in communities affected most by the water shortage. Also, dredging works have begun on riverbeds that had been silted in readiness for the rainy season while tree planting was about to commence along riverbanks. As a country, we need to learn lessons from this occurrence and take our water resources seriously.
Illegal mining, popularly known as ‘galamsey’, has polluted most of our water bodies. Also, the cutting down of trees in the catchment area of most water bodies have contributed to this problem. Bush burning, farming near water bodies and building in waterways have also played their role in bringing the country to this unbearable state.

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Certainly, we have dug our own grave and, unfortunately, we are blaming nature for our predicament. The government needs to enforce the laws that protect our natural resources and the laws should be allowed to take the due course no matter the persons that might be involved. Also, the government should increase the education of the populace on the importance of our natural resources and the citizenry should make the protection of the resources around them their personal duty. It is only then that we can permanently overcome this challenge of water shortage due to drought.

Potable water is a critical aspect of our lives and development as a country. Fancy the number of people who will be free from attracting water-borne diseases such as Cholera, diarrhoea and so on. Our hospitals need water, our schools need water, not just water, but quality water. Our people, mostly the women and children use much of their time searching for drinking water instead of focusing on endeavours that are more productive. Think of the economic and health effect of all the above mentioned and more. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president said, “…Ghana, our beloved country is free forever.” Regrettably, we have not been freed when it comes to water accessibility. Let this issue be important to you. Do your part to save the situation, and our collective efforts will catapult us to the realization of our freedom with respect to potable water availability.


By: Jacob K. Amengor, threesixtyGh Writer

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