On every 22nd March, we are reminded of the essence of water to humanity and the collective effort to ensure safe, clean and accessible potable water to all. The important role water plays in our existence cannot be downplayed. As the world gather to celebrate world water day, my community had been without water for the past three weeks. The same could be said of many communities across the country. This would not be the last time we shall hear or experience water shortage in any part of the country. It has now become a necessary part of our daily living; a situation which should not have been so. In our homes, mothers and children would have to trek long distances just in search for water. In our schools, pupils would have to abandon the classroom to search for this necessary commodity.
Stories of water shortage may not solely be due to the faulty or technical challenges from the Ghana Water Company but purely from the attitude of the Ghanaian toward his or her environment.
Stakeholders and environmental experts believe that Ghana shall import water a decade from today. This is a serious situation we must not sit down for it to happen. We all know water is a basic necessity for domestic and economic use. 95 per cent of jobs in the agricultural sector, 30 per cent of jobs in the industry sector and 10 per cent of jobs in the services sector all depend on water according to statistics. Therefore, scarcity of water will have dirge consequences on us as a people and nation yet we sit unperturbed as we destroy the very source of our survival tomorrow.
The day was marked with some interesting revelation that three out of five Ghanaian drink water contaminated with faeces putting us all at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery and typhoid. According to Water.org, 70 percent of all diseases in Ghana are caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. It attributed diarrhea as one of the leading causes of death among children under five. The cause of this was due to the lack of access to improved sanitation causing many to resort to open defecation.
Ghana is known to be blessed with natural resources which has seen successive generations jealously preserve, protect and hand over to us. But sadly, this generation greedily are galamseying them all for over night riches. One such natural resources at the plea of the mercilessly activities of man is our water bodies; the main source of water for most homes and communities. Galamsey activities and the emission of poisonous chemicals in water bodies have left them without aquatic life. Our rivers, streams and other water sources are drying up in revenge. Water treatment plants are also being shut down in annoyance due to pollution and the activities of illegal gold miners.
According to the Ghana Water Company, the main water body in the Eastern Region, the Birim River has been polluted. This has resulted in the shutdown of water plants in Kyebi.
Plants in Kyebi . The Enu River in the Ashanti Region which serves residents at Konogo is polluted due to galamsey activities.
The Densu River, a major source of water for Accra and situated around the Weija dam is polluted as a result of farming activities and industrial waste.
Sand winning is the major cause of water pollution in the Northern Region. The Nawuni River suffers from sand winning which is changing the colour of the river.
The consequences very deadly if urgent action is not taken. One by one, in the not too distant future without water, we shall die regretting of our inaction to save our environment today. Sadly, basic necessity like water will become the privilege of the rich as only a few can afford. According to the United Nations, if you are a poor person living in a slum you’re likely to pay five to 10 times more for water than wealthy people living in the same city.
We all as citizens have a responsibility to protect our environment in ensuring we do not suffer in the not too distant future. We should be citizens interested in our future more than in our present. We need to rise as a voice and speak to the ills in society. The ills of water bodies being polluted through activities of indiscriminate dumping and discharge of untreated urban domestic waste, discharge and contamination from illegal mining and leaking of agro-chemical from large commercial farms. We should not be afraid but bold to ensure change. If the alarm bells ringing of the impending water crisis is any thing to worry then the government must take the lead in enacting and enforcing the law to save the environment. Let us all take action today to save the over 10 million Ghanaians without access to potable water and the threat of importation of water in a decade time. If the effect o the power situation taught us a lesson, then we need measures so we do not get there where due to the scarcity of water, our homes shall be filled with dead bodies.
The Sustainable Development Goals, says everyone must have access to safe water by 2030, making water a key issue in the fight to eradicate extreme poverty. If this is going to be realised, then our water bodies should be spared from harmful activities. Let us not kill nature in our days but come to its aid for tomorrow.