The surest way to improve the quality of life of the people is improving access to quality water especially in rural communities.
Clean water is essential to health.
Though Ghana has signed up to achieving the targets set under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which cuts across all sectors of the country’s development agenda, access to potable drinking water is still a daunting problem in some communities in Brong-Ahafo.
Under the MDGs target for water, it is expected that Ghana will have provided access to 78 percent of the population with improved water by the year 2015.
By the end of 2010, about 62 percent of the more than 22 million of Ghana’s population had access to improved drinking water supply.
The provisional figures from the 2010 population census put Brong-Ahafo at 2,282,128. The implication is that the population is steadily increasing but water resources cannot support the increase in the region throughout the year.
The borehole success rate of 52 percent is also relatively low. Access to potable water in rural areas in the region is 53.61 percent.
This unfortunately is below the national average of 62 percent. This is why Brong-Ahafo must be one of the government’s focal areas for improvement.
Research has shown that the region requires more than 2,243 new boreholes in communities with population within the range of 75 to 2000 people. To achieve this objective requires dedication and tenacity of purpose.
It is therefore incumbent on development partners, NGOs, Water and Sanitation practitioners and indeed every body to religiously apply him/herself to ensure that all the people in the region gain access to potable water.
This is because water is everybody’s business.
During 2009, Brong-Ahafo provided support for 10 districts in the implementation of IDA funded Small Towns Water and Sanitation Project (STWSSP).
The region also provided support to 22 districts involved in the AFD funded Rural and Small Towns Water Supply component (RSTWSSP) of the peri-urban rural and small town water supply and sanitation project.
Despite these and other interventions by the government, the water demand needs of the people in Brong-Ahafo persist.
For instance, at Brohane in Tain District of the region, with a population of more than 10,000 excluding school children, there are only eight boreholes serving the entire community.
The situation is not different from Debibi, a farming community in the district.
Boys, girls and women have to wake up early in the morning everyday to struggle and queue to fetch water from a nearby borehole.
Sometimes women and children have to walk for an average of six kilometers to fetch water from a stream in the area.
The awful situation touched the heart of an NGO, Global Media Foundation (GLOMEF) operating in the region to secure a GHC 20,000 grant from the Australian High Commission in Accra to construct two mechanized boreholes at Brohane and Debibi.
Mr. Eric Opoku, Deputy Regional Minister cut the sod for the construction of the two boreholes in March last year, during the Tain District celebration of the world water day at Brohane.
He lauded the efforts of the NGO in helping to alleviate the plight of the people in the two communities and commended the Australian High Commission for its continued assistance.
In its message to mark the 2011 District celebration, Mr. Raphael Godlove Ahenu, Chief Executive Officer of GLOMEF, organizers of the event, noted with regret that everyday more than 4,000 children in Sub-Saharan Africa died from diarrhea, caused by unsafe drinking water and poor hygienic conditions.
Diarrhea is a large threat than the collective impact of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, a research has shown,
Another disturbing issue cropping up in the region is improper management of existing water systems.
It has been estimated that at any point in time about two-third of the boreholes in the region are either broken down or out of service.
This unfortunate situation is not acceptable and it behoves the various Municipal and District Assemblies to exercise their oversight control to ensure that the faculties are operational at all times or with minimal downtime, Mr Ahenu said.
Unless this is done, the frantic efforts by our development partners, NGOs and other international bodies to assist to bring water to the doorsteps of the citizenry will not be achieved, he added.
The development of water system in the region is very important and it has to be done with a comprehensive national development programme on water.
Aggravating the situation is the pollution of water resources/bodies by human activities such as bush burning, thereby exposing the soil to extreme heat and exploration, as well as reducing the land to a “dust bowl”, cutting down trees for charcoal, improper use of various chemicals, farming, construction, car washing, dumping of waste into water courses.
These and other similar activities cause siltation of our river channels thereby reducing their water carrying capacities and the quality of water.
A United Nations (UN) analysis of the situation says it is possible to bring clean and safe water to the more than 1.4 billion people without access to water around the world.
“For as little as 50 US dollars per person can prevent many of the 3.35 billion cases of illnesses and 5.3 million deaths caused each year by unsafe water”, the analysis stated.
According to complied data based on findings of research undertaken by Focal Persons of the Sustainable Water Management Improved Cities Tomorrow City Health (SWITCH) programme being implemented in 33 countries including Ghana, about 141 billion urban dwellers do not have access to improved drinking water and one out of four city residents, 794 million in total lives without access to improved sanitation faculties.
It is in the light of these and other challenges that face the water sector that all countries especially in Africa should welcome the World Water Day.
The day celebrated annually in March to better educate decision makers, stakeholders and the world population about situation to urban water and sanitation management problems.
The main objective of the water day is to focus international attention on the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialization and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflict and natural disasters on urban water systems.
By: Dennis Peprah Kwadwo