Friday, October 15, 2010


Would you drink this? Would you allow your children to drink water like this? Can you imagine having no choice?

Today is Global Blog Action Day and the theme is water. It sounds like such a basic, simple thing. And it should be, but the reality is so different.

In July this year, the General Assembly announced that access to clean and safe drinking water is a basic human right.

Despite this, in Ghana today, (my own backyard), over 25% of deaths in children are caused by diarrhea from contaminated water. In these areas, "half the population get its water from wells, ponds and streams that often contain disease-causing microorganisms."

Here some boys collect drinking water from a rubbish dump - it leaves little question as to why illness and death statistics are so high:

The problem in Ghana is 'dire' according to UNICEF, and Wikipedia even features an article about the dismal water supply and sanitation issues in the country. They note that from data accumulated by the World Health Organization and the UN, only 4% of people in rural areas have access to a water supply to their houses, and only 2% have access to any form of sewage system.

The history of why and how it has been left to get to this state is long and ugly. It involves politicians and greed, disorganization and marginalization. Basically the needs of the rural poor have been on the bottom of every list.

But is anybody doing anything????? Well, yes. Luckily amidst the many ineffective NGOs, there are a few that make a difference, one community at a time.

Water for Ghana - helps villagers to come together and build their own tanks for a fresh supply of water.

PureHomeWater - an MIT initiative, run by American Susan Murdoch, distributes filters designed for small rural systems.

Green Cross Australia - has spearheaded a project to bring clean water to schools across Ghana.

Many other volunteers are raising funds to distribute filters on a micro level - after witnessing the conditions in Ghana's north.

But it's estimated that Ghana needs over $200million to kickstart the water and sanitation problems.

For the sake of the children, I hope some of the USD $13billion that Ghana has just been promised by China will go toward bringing fresh clean water like this (below) to every person in all of Ghana.

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Expat mum said...

You can't believe how timely your post is. I am currently looking into water options for the school I support in Medina (sp?). This is great, thank you. (And our principal is coming over to Chicago next week. So excited.)

The pale observer said...

Great news Expat Mum :) the situation here is pretty dismal in the rural parts. Even in Medina!

Anonymous said...

Holli thanks for bringing attention to Ghana's water situation. One would believe that an issue like water will be on the government of Ghana's priority list, but its always kicked around like a "political football". Ghana cannot just leave this to the NGO community alone. There must be a bold action once and for all to make sure that cities and villages have access to clean drinking water - period! The time is now and the people of Ghana must hold the government accountable on this. If the goverment is taking billions of US dollars in loans then water and sanitation in Ghana should be back on everyone's priority list.

Thanks to the NGOs and what they do, but sometimes their actions are so "piece meal" its effects are not far reaching. I remember the work of Ron Bannerman many years back with WaterAid in the Eastern region. It was a worthy action with some gains to the people, but it was not sustainable in the long-run.Ghana needs a water system that is sustainable for the people as well as for our development. We need a non-partisan commission to go back to the drawing board to develop a strategy that includes commmercial and non-commercial initiatives that are sound, practical and effecient.

Ghanaians may recall that most cities and small towns had clean running water 24/7from the 60s through the early 80s. At the catholic boarding school that I attended in Nsawam, I can recollect that we had two healthy showers a day under a good pressure of clean water. I took the evening shower to please the nuns during the evening mass- they would say "boys you smell clean!" Our only issue was that there was sometimes too much chlorine in the water. The taps run all the time and we had clean flashing toilets all the time. The story was the same in Accra, Tema, Koforidua, capecoast, Aburi and other parts of the country where I spent my childhood and early adult life before moving to the USA.

Lets remind president Mills that it will be a glowing tribute to his presidency if this water task is accomplished once and for all.The ground work can be laid during his administration. In the next 2 years a new architecture for Ghana's water system and network can be boldly put together strategically region by region, city by city village by village.Old water purification systems, pumps and supply lines must be replace; new water pumps and reserviors built; more bore-hole water systems installed for the villages. It is intuitive that the real cost saving will be the reduction of water-borne diseases and other related illness. It can be done and it must be done now!

Anonymous said...

Отличная статья! большое спасибо автору за интересный материал. Удачи в развитии!!!

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Anonymous said...

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