Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Climate change raises cost of water production in Ghana

By Justice Lee Adoboe
As government of Ghana seeks to achieve universal water coverage in 2025, economic activities around sources of raw water in the country have been causing an increase in the pollution rate of these water bodies.
Some of these economic activities including unorthodox fishing methods, traditional farming methods illegal lumbering and stone quarrying which also trigger Climate Change impose a high cost of production the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL).
Manuel Tetteh, Water Quality Assurance Officer of the GWCL in Ashanti Region said some of these activities continuously pollute River Offing and other tributaries that feed into the Barekese Dam, near Kumasi, 268 km north of the capital.
In addition to these factors, Tetteh listed illegal mining popularly referred to as “Galamsey” as a major cause of pollution of the Oda River near Obuasi 270 km north-east of the capital and River Anunu in Konongo.
The official made this known to a group Of Water, Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) sector stakeholders including the Parliamentary Select Committee on Water Resources, Works and Housing at Barekese.
The group which included the Ghana Watsan Journalists Network (GWJN) had been in a five-day WASH Governance Workshop organized by the West Africa (WA) WASH under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Some of these activities expose water bodies to the sunshine, causing up to 25 percent reduction in the volume of water in these water sources, while siltation also increases the coloring of the raw water sources, while sealing up some of them.
“We have to keep increasing the volume of chemicals we use in treating water, due to the heavy coloring of the raw water from these rivers as a result of such activities,” the official disclosed.
The burning of weeded farmlands around the banks of these rivers make running water during raining season drive ashes and silt into the rivers, while exposing the rivers also to the hot sunshine, causing both coloring and reduction in the volumes of water in these water bodies.
In addition to that the running water also carries remains of chemical fertilizers used on farms into the water bodies, thus increasing the nutrient levels of the water.
According to Tetteh the cost of TREATMENT FOR every cubic meter of water treated, 0.45 Ghana cedis or 0.140 U.S dollars, with 60 percent of the cost being covering chemical use.
“In Barekese, the Hazen Unit (HU) of water in the 30 million gallons of water Barekese Dam is about 200, that of raw water in Obuasi and Konongo areas is over 5,000 HU.
To deal with this phenomenon, GWCL teams up with the Water Resources Commission (WRC) to sensitize these communities, as well as seek assistance from the security services to prevent such pollution activities in the catchment areas.
Lakhdar Boukerrou, Regional Director for the WA-WASH for Ghana, Niger and Burkina Faso urged governments in the sub-region to introduce Climate Change mitigation measures that would ensure sustainability of water production.
“The problem in West Africa is not the lack of water resources, but the lack of proper management,” he told Xinhua in an interview. Enditem

Monday, March 30, 2015

Livelihoods causing increasing water treatment cost in Ashanti Region of Ghana

story By Gifty Amofa,Kumasi

The cost of water production by the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) in Ashanti Region keeps increasing daily an official said here on Wednesday.
This is due to economic and social activities by people living in communities in the catchment areas of the major sources of raw water for treatment in the region.
Mr. Manuel Tetteh, Water Quality Assurance Officer of the GWCL in the region said farming activities, fishing and illegal lumbering constituted the major sources of pollution of the River Offing and other tributaries that feed into the Barekese Dam.
He disclosed these when a group Of Water, Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) sector players together with the Parliamentary Committee on Water Resources , Works and Housing, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), state actors and members of the Ghana Watsan Journalists Network (GWJN) embarked on a familiarization tour of the Barekese Dam and its catchment areas to learn at first-hand the nature of water production in the region.
The trip was part of a four-day workshop on WASH Governance organized by the West Africa (WA) WASH under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“The pollution compels the water company to keep increasing the volumes of chemicals used in purifying the water,” Mr. Tetteh said.
According to him, the slashing and burning of bushes annually for farming purposes around the catchment areas expose the water bodies to the vagaries of the sunshine, which affects the quality of the water.
Another factor is that with the burning of bushes, running water during rainfall transports the ashes directly into these water bodies. The running water also carries biocides (chemical fertilizers) used on farms into the water bodies, thus increasing the nutrient levels of the water, added the official.
He explained that this creates the need for increased chemical use in water production which brings about the increasing cost of water production.
Mr. Tetteh said per every cubic metre of water treated, GHc 0.15 is spent, with the cost of chemicals constituting 60 percent.
Compared to the Barekese catchment area where the water has a 200 Hounsfield unit (HU) the Konongo and Obuasi areas have over 5000 HU in the water, due mainly to illegal mining activities, heightening the need for chemical use by the water company in its water production.
While Ghana seeks to achieve a universal coverage of clean water supply to citizens by 2025, the cost of water production due to water pollution threatens the achievement of this target, except at a higher cost.
The water company, according to Tetteh keeps sensitising communities in the catchment areas of the water bodies to desist from such bad activities which threaten sustainable water delivery in the country.
The Water Resources Commission (WRC) in Ashanti Region has drawn out and is implementing a programme of community involvement in the protection of the water bodies in the face of the growing incidence of Climate Change.
Mrs. Abena Dufie Wiredu Bremang, the Pra Basin Officer of the WRC said this programme has been making some impact Penten, one of the closest communities to the Offing River, near Kodie in the Kwabre East District.
Nana Attah Kofi, Regent of Penten said his community had embraced the program to protect the water body because they believe the pollution would eventually affect sustainable water delivery to them.
“It is our own future we are fighting for: and so we have given the programme our full backing, and are ready to sanction anyone who flouts directives concerning water pollution.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Urban slum compounding Ghana’s open defecation menace

Ghana has a long way to go in achieving Open Defecation Free (ODF) status, a senior public official cautioned here on Monday.
This is because, urban slums, unlike rural areas lack toilet facilities for households, making people defecate in drains around these slums while others also defecate in open spaces.
Theodora Adomako-Adjei, Extension Services Coordinator for the Communoty Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) made these observations when she addressed a national sanitation discussion and debate organized here to find effective ways of dealing with Ghana’s sanitation challenges.
The forum WAS organized by Multi-Media Broadcasting, a leading Ghanaian media house in conjunction with STAR (Strengthening Transparency, Accountability and Responsiveness in Ghana )the umbrella body of some Ghana’s Development Partners including Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), European Union (EU) United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and United Kingdom Agency for International Development (UK-AID).
“To stop open defecation, people must have access to descent toilets in their homes, schools or work places,” the official stressed.
She lamented the practice of people especially urban slum dwellers defecate in polythene bags and then throw them into open drains, in litter bins or open spaces which creates nuisance and health hazards for other members if the community.
This phenomenon which has assumed common name “flying toilets” in Ghana often happens at dawn when people stand afar off and throw their human excrement into open drains, with passers-by risking being hit by the “shit-bombs”.
Another practice is when people store their household excrement waiting for rains to come so they pour the yellow liquid waste into drains to be washed away.
A public Health Practioner and Water and Sanitation Consultant, Dr. Mark Tettey pointed out that the recent cholera outbreak in the country was the result of bad sanitation practices.
“Accra alone recorded 20,000 cholera cases between June and December 2014with varying statistics from other regions across the country.
“Cholera is a public health issue and this is because most of our households lack toilets facilities and so resort to open defecation,” Dr. Tetteh observed.
He lamented that most vegetables grown in urban areas are irrigated with water from drains that are highly contaminated with fecal matter.
Dr. Tetteh urged sector players to take holistic action to deal with the sanitation menace so as to reduce the disease burden of the country.
Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Julius Debrah urged the private sector and Non Governmental Organizations to continue supporting government’s efforts in dealing with the sanitation menace.
“Sanitation is a shared responsibility, and so your contributions are highly appreciated and we should continue mobilizing communities to help deal with waste,” Debrah urged.

By Justice Lee Adoboe

Monday, September 22, 2014

Rastafarian council threatens legal action against the AMA over the demolishing of structures at Mensah Guinea over cholera outbreak

The Rastafarian Council of Ghana is threatening legal action against the Accra Metropolitan Assembly over the demolishing of some structures at Mensah Guinea, near the Art Centre.
Vice President of the Council tells Starr News the Mayor of AMA, Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije is using the demolishing to cover up his inefficiency.
The AMA earlier this month embarked on a demolition exercise at Mensah Guinea an illegal slum community as part of ongoing efforts to combat the outbreak of cholera epidemic in the national capital.
The outbreak has killed about eighty people so far, with the regional capital, Accra, alone, recording more than 12,000 cases.
Ras Aswad Nkrabeah is the Vice President of the Rastafarian Council of Ghana
He further described the recent demolition as inhumane considering the repercussion on the residents.
By Fred Dzakpata

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How Germany avoided Cholera

Na who cause am? So we want to die in the heat of this cholera epidemic and probably take solace in blaming the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) for not providing refuse containers?

The AMA Mayor is alive. And like many state actors, he is in fact healthy. Yeah, you are somewhat right to suggest that he doesn’t care. But have you also thought for a second, if those dying of cholera and people around them do also care?

Why won’t we die if we keep blaming, blaming, and by so doing we shirk our own responsibility. Why not, we are expecting the negative result from our own ill actions to be the portion of the one we are pointing one accusing finger at; meanwhile we have directed the remaining fingers towards our direction and they decently discharge weapons of mass destruction at us. So who is receiving more salvos and who should die first?

The death toll is nearing one hundred out of over 10,000 reported cases in 52 districts across seven of the country’s 10 regions, in just three months since the outbreak, I heard on Tuesday, September 2, 2014.

How many times education should go on and adverts run for us to practise simple hygiene at home and in our communities? I guess radios and televisions, of course the newspapers; in fact all media outlets including the new babies – social media network – should halt everything except hammering on good hygiene and proper sanitation practices for one month to sink home some sense into a naughty, scratchy oblongata in our dusty skull.

I was therefore appalled to be greeted by this headline: “Mensah Guinea residents blame cholera epidemic on AMA's failure to provide waste bins”. As captured by myjoyonline.com on Wednesday, September 3, 2014.

Apparently Mensah Guinea is in Ghana. If it had not been because of the well known local name - Mensah – I would have disowned this community. It is located behind the high-flying Arts Centre in Accra – a famous tourist destination in Accra, regrettably though.They had the effrontery to blame the increasing number of cholera-related deaths and illnesses in their vicinity on the failure of city authorities to provide them with waste bins.

Don’t get me wrong. I will be the last person to speak for the AMA! Why??? Fine, that would be when I don’t have anything better doing. I am more concerned about our living comrades putting their house together and in order. Who knows, we will be sitting side by side to cheer one of the Black football groups at any soccer mundial.

Chief don’t be bothered much. As usual of us, I must admit, we know how to waste money well, well. God forbid that we will spend a few cedis on waste bins. Nonetheless, we will pump wads of banknotes to show off in burying the dead. You see? Can you imagine?!!

The myjoyonline.com story further stated: “Their complaints came to light when residents embarked on a rigorous clean-up exercise Wednesday following AMA’s ultimatum for them to clear filth in the area or have their structures demolished by Friday.”

Now you seeee!!! Oga open your eyes. Not too wide lest some stubborn Mensah Guinea housefly dumps cholera infested element through your squint eyes.

Come to think of it. They were capable of cleaning their surroundings at their own cost, and yet would wait for a marching order from the same lackadaisical AMA, while they die one after the other. What a Kalybosical waoooow!!!

Sometime this year, I hang on a trotro front with a certain obnoxious man. And instead of praying that the swaying commercial vehicle takes us to our destinations safely, we engaged in a seriously needless argument.

Residents around Lapaz pedestrian footbridge on the George Walker Bush Highway (N1 Highway) had dumped waist-high collections of waste under the bridge. It happened months prior to the cholera outbreak, and I prophesied, not proud though, that the people were only inviting illness to themselves and innocent commuters. Voila! We are all wobbling in cholera infested cities as some precious lives extinct on daily basis.

Annoyingly, this man by my side saw nothing wrong with people gathering refuse from their houses, shops and wherever to be dumped along a prominent road - luckily for him he was thrice huge my size I would have elbowed him ah. He nauseatingly commended the residents for exposing the incompetency of the government. I hope he has not been called to glory to watch and applaud the government being shamed dying of our action.


Courtesy the defunct International Institute of Journalism (IIJ of Inwent), I was in Germany, Berlin to be precise. More accurately, somewhere Osnabrücker inside Mierendorfplatz. We were instructed to keep our refuse inside whenever the waste container placed at the yard was full. Nobody, including me, dared to overflow the container.

I must concede it doesn’t take days to get the container emptied. However, we were very cautious in generating refuse anytime the container was full, unless you want to sleep with heap of refuse in your room.

Can you imagine the cacophony that would take over the airwaves should such directive be issued anywhere in Ghana?

This, I believe, is one of many little things Germany did to avoid any cholera epidemic.

I doff my hat for residents and authorities in Germany. They worked hand in hand to ensure that their environment was clean and neat everyday. Cholera epidemic would sound like a myth in the ears of persons born few decades ago.

It’s about attitude! People there will not empty solid waste and human excreta into gutters immediately they see the cloud gathering to rain like in Ghana.

It is disgraceful that in the 21st century people will contract and die from Cholera in my country Ghana.

By Isaac Essel

Asantehene calls for national emergency for clean environment

Government has been advised to as a matter of urgency consider declaring a national emergency for a clean environment to bring together traditional rulers , local, health , and education authorities to find practical ways of saving the country from the health hazards as a result of the prevailing insanitary conditions.

Asantehene Otumfour Osei Tutu II made the call when he delivered the keynote address at the 19th Ghana Journalist Association Award on the theme “"using development journalism to discern and defend the national interest’’. in Accra.

The current insanitary condition in the country has triggered an outbreak of cholera in the country which has so far claimed 92 lives from over 10,000 reported cases in just three months.
It has now spread to 52 districts across seven regions of the country, excluding the three northern regions- Northern, Upper East and Upper West.

He lamented over the level at which the country has been engulfed with filth making it a haven for breeding mosquitoes after nearly 60 years of Independence.

“We exude pride in ourselves not just as Ghanaians, but as the torch-bearers of African renaissance. How does that pride square with the mounds of refuge in the heart of our cities?” he questioned.
“What makes this more tragic is that all available evidence points to the fact that our forefathers and mothers lived in a cleaner environment than we are he emphasized adding that While creative nations turn their refuse into wealth, we prefer to let our people die from the refuse.

According to him the education and social advancement being enjoyed currently should not make us on our sense of responsibility for our own health and well-being especially when the continent is battling with the deadly Ebola.
The Asantehene has therefore called on policy makers to take pragmatic measures to address the challenge facing the continent.

By Fred Dzakpata

Pay for sanitation services promptly -MMDAs told

Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies have been urged to promptly pay for services they receive in connection with sanitation and for which they are obliged by law to do.

According to the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), paying readily for what they owed was one sure way of preventing the hills of refuse dotted across the country and which, in a way, have contributed to the outbreak of cholera.

Already, the cholera outbreak has claimed over 45 lives and affected over 6,000 people in Accra alone.

In a statement issued by the coalition in reaction to the outbreak, CONIWAS has listed nine other critical measures that ought to be taken by the government in dealing with the epidemic.

The critical measures outlined by CONIWAS include increasing the number of health personnel and health supplies to affected areas, an aggressive public education and awareness creation of the disease, arousing interest on the need for hands to be washed regularly and the necessity of treating household water before drinking.

According to the coalition, an enforcement of laws that compel homes to have appropriate toilet facilities and the urgent need to provide environmental health officers with the requisite logistical support that will help them to execute their jobs effectively are steps the government must take to ensure proper sanitation practices.

It also urged the government to prioritise investments in sanitation, by establishing modern-day solid and liquid waste treatment in an attempt to stop all forms of open defaecation and the dumping of raw faecal matter into the sea.

Citizens were also advised to change their attitudes with regard to sanitation, adopt good hygiene practices and also be mindful of places where food are sold and eaten in public or the throwing of litter while moving in traffic.

“We cannot continue this way as a people. Urgent measures are required and CONIWAS calls on the government to act promptly. Under the circumstances, more emphasis should be placed on preventive rather than curative measures,” the statement signed by the Executive Secretary of CONIWAS, Mr Benjamin Arthur, said.
By Edmund Asante