Monday, August 15, 2011

Mining activities in Obuasi, Tarkwa pollute 262 rivers, plague residents with keratosis and diabetes

Skin rashes as a result of intake of arsenic

A baseline study conducted by the Centre for Environmental Impact Assessment (CEIA), Ghana and WACAM in 2008, has revealed that out of the 160 streams and rivers in the Obuasi mining area, 145 are perceived by residents to be polluted by the operations of mining companies and ‘galamsey’ operators.
It says in the Tarkwa mining area as well, all the 117 rivers and streams in the area are perceived to have been polluted by mining companies and ‘galamsey’ operators.
This is because indigenes in those areas have since 2004 reported thousands of cases of skin diseases (keratosis) and type II diabetes caused by the high intake of arsenic, a carcinogen associated with gold ores.
Further, the study said most of the residents perceived that the alternate source of water provided for them by mining companies are not of good quality.
Making the findings of the study known last week at a water, sanitation and hygiene conference at Busua near Takoradi dubbed Mole XXII Conference, Mr. Samuel Obiri, a researcher at CEIA said however, that pollution in the two areas does not only border on perceptions.
“A recent report issued by the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) on human rights abuses in mining communities confirmed the assertion of residents of mining communities that most of water borne diseases they suffer are as a result of the bad quality of water supplied to them after their sources of drinking water have been destroyed,” he said, quoting CHRAJ’s 2008 report.
The water bodies have largely been polluted by arsenic, which is a naturally occurring element in the earth’s crust found alongside some gold ores such as arsenopyrite ores and which according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), is a class ‘A’ human cancer causing agent that affects the lung, liver, kidney, bladder and skin.
This is normally preceded by gastrointestinal symptoms, central and peripheral neuropathy, bone marrow suppression, upper respiratory symptoms, skin keratosis and hyper-pigmentation among others, Mr. Obiri said while speaking on the topic “IMPLICATIONS OF GOLD MINING ON THE WASH SECTOR: A CASE STUDY OF ARSENIC POLLUTION IN TARKWA NSUAEM MUNICIPALITY AND PRESTEA HUNI VALLEY DISTRICT”.
True to this, the arsenic related diseases reported at the Health Directorate of the Wassa West District, which houses the two areas of the study show that, from 2004 to 2006 alone, skin diseases reported moved from 1,634 to 3,825 and then 4066 respectively.
On the other hand, the incidence of Diabetes Melitus, a type II diabetes, for the same period, was 388, increased to 441 and then reduced to 369 in 2006.
According to the study, arsenic induced disease records from the Health Directorates of the Prestea Huni Valley District (PHVD) and the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipal Assembly (TNMA), show an increase of skin diseases from 1,409 to 3,544 in the Prestea District from 2007 to 2009 while there have been no reported cases of the type II diabetes.
At the TNMA however, the incidence of hyper-pigmentation and keratosis increased sharply from 8,507 to 10, 827, to 11,894 from 2007 to 2009 and only reduced to 7,002 in 2010. Diabetes cases also rose sharply from 939 to 1,626 to 2,857 from 2007 to 2009 and reduced to 1,610 in 2010.
The arsenic content of the sources of water in the two areas of study were also reflected in the fact that most of the communities investigated had their levels way beyond the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency (GEPA), United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and World Health Organisation (WHO) permissible levels.
For instance in the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipality, a community, Ateberebe, had the highest arsenic concentration of 2.451 milligrams per litre, which put it 245.1% beyond GEPA’s accepted level and 24510% above the USEPA and WHO accepted levels.
The highest arsenic concentration in the Prestea District was found in Twiagya, which had a concentration of 4.563 milligrams per litre, thus an excess concentration of 456.3% for Ghana and 45630% for the US and WHO.
In view of the findings, CEIA has recommended that a similar study be conducted in different regions or mining communities to assess the health impacts of exposure to toxic chemicals used in mining operations by both small scale mining and mining companies.
The Centre has also proposed that the Ghana Health Service should develop a new format for reporting and recording of mining related diseases that are reported at health institutions in mining communities in the country, while civil society organisations working in the sector should advocate for mining companies to conduct Health Impact Assessment in addition to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
Also, the EPA, Water Resources Commission, National Commission on Civic Education, CHRAJ and the Minerals Commission have been tasked to educate residents of mining communities on the contents of EIA documents before the public hearing on such documents submitted by mining companies.
Mr. Samuel Obiri explained that the study was conducted because gold attracts prominence in the mineral sector and that revenues from gold account for about 96% of the total mineral revenues of the country. “Total annual mineral exports rose from US$115.3 million in 1984 to US$995.2 million in 200,” he stated.
He said it is also because the mining sector now accounts for more than 30% of gross foreign exchange earnings. Touching on the objectives of the study, he said “The overall goal of the study is to collect evidence of the health effect of arsenic exposure in mining areas.”
“The specific objectives of this project are to determine the concentration of arsenic in water bodies in Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipality and Prestea Huni Valley District. To use multivariate logistic regression to establish relationship between exposure to arsenic in drinking water and non – cancer chronic arsenic related diseases reported at the Tarkwa Municipal Hospital,” he added.
In conducting the study, random sampling techniques were used in selecting nine communities from Tarkwa Nsuaem municipality and Prestea Huni Valley District.
Pollution of River Asasre in Himan by Galamsey
1.5 litres of water samples were collected from rivers and streams or boreholes from each community between August 2009 to July 2010 and the samples stored in an ice – chest at 4°C and transported to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Chemistry Department for analysis.
Additionally, ethical clearance was obtained from the Ghana Health Service Ethics Review Committee and random sampling techniques adopted in selecting 1,185 adult respondents in the study area who answered a set of questionnaire.
Furthermore, health records of the 1,185 respondents were obtained from the Tarkwa Municipal Hospital, Prestea Hospital and Bogoso Hospital respectively, while analysis of the data gathered was limited to resident adults aged over 35 years who reported drinking water bodies sampled for the study for the past 20 or more years.

Ghana sets record in Guinea Worm eradication


Ghana has been declared the first country to have achieved a zero case status in Guinea Worm eradication from 3,000 cases in a record time of three and half years, by Mr. Jim Niquette, formerly of the Carter Centre in Tamale, Ghana and now Director of Water in Africa Through Everyday Responsiveness (WATER).
Making the declaration at the just ended 22nd Mole Conference series at Busua near Takoradi in the Western Region, Mr. Niquette, who was full of praise for Ghana, for achieving that status, said “In 2007 we had 3,358, in 2008 we had 501; that’s 85% reduction and the largest reduction ever experienced by any country who ever attempted to eradicate Guinea Worm.”
“And it continued; we had 242 in 2009, eight in 2010 and zero in May 2011” he added, drawing applause from the over 150 participants from various agencies and organisations of Ghana’s water, sanitation and hygiene sector at the three-day conference held under the theme “Towards Decentralised WASH Services Delivery: Challenges and Lessons”.
Mr. Jim Niquette, who presented the status update on Ghana’s Guinea Worm eradication programme, divulged that although the average number of years it took for the first 16 countries to eradicate Guinea Worm from 3,000 cases to zero, was 8 1 /2 years, it was an unprecedented three and half years in the case of Ghana.
Attributing Ghana’s sterling performance in the eradication of Guinea Worm cases to the involvement of all stakeholders, he said; “The answer to that question is that we got everybody involved – it wasn’t just the Ghana Health Service and the Carter Centre – it was many many more people involved in the Northern Region, Upper West, Brong Ahafo ..”.
Mr. Niquette said the feat was achieved through assistance from the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, a host of other stakeholders including development partners and advocacy to attempt to raise US$ 35 million to provide water for 335 Guinea Worm endemic villages.
He also paid glowing tribute to the then Minister of Health, the late Major (r’td) Courage Quarshigah, through whose instrumentality a document that was prepared by Ghana Health Service and others was able to raise the money.
According to the former Carter Centre Director of Water for Africa, the team of stakeholders was able to raise US $5.3 million from just the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), adding “That is the kind of advocacy we are talking about that doesn’t cost money necessarily to work as a group together and what I think we learnt from that process is that when you collectively put people together, you create a plan, you create objectives, you create outputs you go out and you send it out with a lot of people’s names, you can accomplish plenty.”
He reiterated that it was as a result of the sector wide approach involving many stakeholders, that they were able to achieve so much in the eradication process using just five years, which no one had ever tried before. Some of the over 30 stakeholders who were mentioned as contributing to the success story were, Pro-Net, UNICEF, MCA, Rotary Club and the European Union.
As a result of Ghana’s current status, the Guinea Worm eradication programme will officially come to an end on August 31, 2011, Mr. Niquette disclosed.
Ghana will however have to maintain the zero case status for the next three years in order to qualify to be declared as having completely eradicated Guinea Worm.
The incidence of Guinea Worm in Ghana was initially 189,000 cases with the Northern Region alone having 79,000 at the onset of the eradication programme led by the Carter Centre.
The 22nd Mole Conference held from August 10 to August 13, 2011, was organised by the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) with support from Water Aid in Ghana, Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing (MWRWH), UNICEF, DANIDA, CIDA, IRC, World Bank, GWCL, Plan Ghana, CWSA, USAID, Poly Tank and RELIEF International.

22nd Mole Conference underway

A cross section of participants at the conference

The 22nd edition of the longest running annual Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector event in Ghana, the Mole Conference, began yesterday August 10, 2011, at the Busua Beach Resort in the Ahanta West District of the Western Region of Ghana.
This year’s annual WASH forum organised by the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), is themed ‘‘Towards Decentralised WASH Services Delivery: Challenges and Lessons” and will end on Friday, August 12, 2011.
According to the organisers, the key objective of the conference is to take stock, share experiences, challenges, lessons and the way forward on the effort towards decentralised water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services delivery.
Specifically though, it aims at discussing the sustainability of WASH services with respect to small town water supply systems, identifying and discussing the implications of the oil and gas industry to the WASH resources in Ghana and gaining consensus on mechanisms for expanding Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in a way which will enable people move up the sanitation ladder.
The conference will cover four sub themes, which are, i) Governance, Accountability and Aid Effectiveness in the WASH sector; ii) dealing with long term financing for small town systems; iii) Oil and Gas and its implications in the WASH sector; and iv) Scaling up Sanitation and Hygiene- The CLTS factor.
The sub theme of Governance, Accountability and Aid Effectiveness in the WASH sector has been chosen to give impetus to the Paris Declaration on Aid-Effectiveness, the Accra Agenda for Action and the European Union Code of Conduct, all of which commit the development partners to improve aid effectiveness.
Further, it is in view of the fact that poor governance has been blamed for most of the crisis in the WASH sector today, especially with regard to effective /local government leadership, transparency and accountable conduct of service providers, be they public, private or not-for-profit.
Meanwhile, Ghana has taken giant strides to harmonise procedures and programmes amongst the myriad of players in the WASH sector. These include a sector wide approach (SWAp) and a Sector Strategic Development Plan (SSDP), which the 3-day conference hopes to examine to see how these initiatives would in practice help to bridge the gap between international declarations and practical implementation of those declaration, such as localising the Paris Declaration for implementation and monitoring.
Mole XXII which has attracted an unprecedented number of over 150 participants from government sector agencies, development partners and non-governmental agencies, also hopes to suggest mechanisms to improve efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery, increase effective community participation in decision making at all levels, strengthen sector governance and improve transparency and accountability of duty bearers to communities.
As regards dealing with long-term financing for small town systems, the conference hopes to effectively examine innovative risk protection mechanisms to insulate them from catastrophic events that result in huge financial outlays for repairs.
Concerning oil and gas and its implications in the WASH sector, Mole XXII hopes to facilitate a serious reflection on concomitant issues such as high price tags on housing as a result of the oil find and the consequential development of peri- urban areas and propose measures that will enable affected districts better prepare against an imminent WASH crisis.
The fouth sub theme; “scaling up sanitation and hygiene – the CLTS factor”, is also aimed at reviewing how far Ghana is progressing with the CLTS agenda, whether there are any early signs of ultimate success and if CLTS would count towards the MDGs or not.
Aside the four sub themes, the conference will discuss new and on-going developments in the WASH Sector since Mole XXI, such as Household Water Treatment and Storage Strategy, Sector Wide Approach (SWAp), Sector Strategic Development Plans, Sector Monitoring and Evaluation Framework, MDGs Accelerated Framework and Promoting Women in leadership in WASH at the highest political level.
Participants at the ongoing conference are being taken through the sessions through knowledge sharing, structured and expert panel discussions, exhibitions, structured media events, conference communiqué and a report.
Named after the venue of the maiden edition, Mole, in the Northern Region of Ghana, the Mole Conference series is one of the biggest multi-stakeholder annual platforms in the WASH sector in Ghana. It is organised by the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) and brings together sector practitioners from NGOs, Government, Private Operators, Networks, CBOs, CSOs, etc. to dialogue, learn and share knowledge/ information on specific themes that affect the sector.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ghana may never meet its sanitation MDG even in 100 years

Ghana is seriously off track, as far as improved sanitation coverage is concerned, with a current national figure of 13.4%, and that shows clearly that even in 100 years, the country will not achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on sanitation
The arguments advanced by some proponents of improved sanitation coverage however is that, Ghana currently has a low coverage because the Joint Monitoring Platform (JMP) consisting of the UNICEF and WHO, did not and do not consider shared facilities as improved.
Thus, those who advance such arguments believe if Ghana is able to make a case for the inclusion of shared toilets, that would significantly up the country’s current off track figure, because a lot of its citizens are using shared facilities.
They believe if the country’s own institutions such as the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) and Water and Sanitation Monitoring Platform (WSMP) are made to count the improved latrines (defined as a latrine if when used will not make the user’s buttocks touch the faeces) and include those that are shared, the gloomy picture that has been painted about Ghana would be made bright.
Indeed, that may be right, considering the fact that even those living in the big cities and towns who are supposed to have household toilets, largely depend on the public latrines built for transient populations.
It has been noted too that for even most households that have latrines, the number of families who depend on them are so huge that they cannot pass for improved facilities according to the JMP’s criterion.
But the main thrust of this editorial is not Ghana’s poor showing in sanitation coverage because shared facilities are not considered.
After visits to both rural and urban areas, despite the loud noises being made about Ghana’s low coverage, I observed that no deliberate strategy has been put in place by government, agencies, development partners and sector players, to invest in and assist in the provision of improved latrines for the Ghanaian people.
This however cannot be said about the provision of water, which has received very high investment over the years and still does. Even water and sanitation boards in most communities of the country still have their focus and all attention on potable water provision, often neglecting sanitation.
The reasons always given for these by government agencies are that sanitation is an individual affair, water will serve a lot of people while latrines will serve few, and that development partners do not invest in sanitation and that people always clamour for potable water and not latrines, with the reason being that they can always resort to the bush if they are hard pressed and want to defecate.
No wonder open defecation is still rife in this day and age in Ghana and will not go away anytime soon, simply by wishing it away.
The earlier we face up to the realities as a country and put in long lasting measures to change the trend as it is currently, the better it will be for us all. Otherwise we should forget about meeting our MDG sanitation target of 54% even in the next 100 years.
Some of the steps that can be taken as a country are:
1. a deliberate plan to assist in the provision of individual latrines for those who cannot afford;
2. proper and intensive education by the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) through Water and Sanitation Development Boards and Watsan Committees on the various affordable latrine models and the provision of technical support.
Other steps that can be taken are;
3. criminalising the putting up of houses and even shops for rent and other public places without the inclusion of latrines, which must go with effective monitoring and implementation of appropriate bye-laws by local government authorities and
4. an equal portion of funds from development partners for both water and sanitation and
5. generally an intensive national campaign for every household or house to have an improved latrine.
This national campaign involving all stakeholders, must be embarked on immediately by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, if Ghana is to make any headway in its sanitation coverage.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

From wells to standpipes – a success story of rural water delivery

Anlo Afiadenyigba's first water system reservoir

Although all may not be well with rural water delivery in Ghana, the water and sanitation development board of Anlo Afiadenyigba in the Anlo District of the Volta Region, has shown that with a sense of dedication and commitment, the country’s rural folks can access clean drinking water.
Thus, a large area that was hitherto dotted with and depended on a number of individually hand-dug wells for its daily water needs, although most of them were not hygienically kept, the area can now boast of numerous standpipes, which pour out year round potable water for thousands of local residents.
Since the construction of a water system supervised by the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) in 1999 and its subsequent completion and launch on September 15, 2000 by the then Vice President John Evans Atta Mills, there has been massive expansion and increase of access to potable water in the area.
As a result of the expansion, the water system initially constructed for a population of 7,000 people is now estimated to be serving 10,000 in the ten communities of the Anlo area, including Afiadenyigba.
After touring a host of rural communities in the Eastern and Volta regions, where it was found that there were daunting challenges in water delivery and access to potable water, 14 journalists belonging to the Ghana Watsan Journalists Network (GWJN), whose focus is on water, sanitation and hygiene, were pleasantly surprised when the usually pitiable stories they had been used to on the trail turned different at Anlo Afiadenyigba.
Presenting an overview of the eleven-year-old community water project, chairperson of Afiadenyigba’s Water and Sanitation Development Board (WSDB), Edith Kumpe, stated in a matter of fact way that there are now 44 public stand posts (pipes) distributed in the various communities, 36 private connections and five overhead tanks whose capacities range from 20m3 to 45m3.
To further increase access to water in the Anlo area, the WSDB chairperson intimated that plans were afoot to construct a sixth reservoir at Kpota which is developing at a very fast rate and assistance is being sought to carry on with the project.
She disclosed that the board currently makes an average of GH¢2,000 monthly from the sale of water at 5Gp per two 18 litre buckets, largely from peak times of 5am to 9am and 3pm to 6pm, employing the pay-as-you-fetch system for the stand posts and charges GH¢1.30 per 1m3 for private connections.
But Edith Kumpe does not take credit for the success chalked. “My dedicated board and staff have contributed to success of the project,” she quipped. It was also divulged that all stand posts are functioning, as a result of the hard work of two permanent operators and a caretaker each for the ten communities, who supervise regular maintenance.
This is coupled with a very good recovery rate from all institutional connections made so far in the area.
Lending his voice to the discourse on Anlo Afiadenyigba’s successful operation of its water system, the Regent, Togbe Kadzahlo V said “I have confidence in the good work the board is doing.”
It was however not all commendations and successes, as currently only three public toilets including two water closets, serve all the 10 communities, which means some communities do not have any toilet facilities while individual latrines are sparse.
There is also no dump site for the waste generated by individual households and institutions, despite the fact that some of the women of the communities who rear pigs let them out into the open and they litter with their faeces whilst feeding on garbage strewn around for lack of proper management.
To address this sanitation headache, the Environmental Health Officer of the district, Richard Agbenyegah pleaded with waste management companies such as Zoomlion Ghana Limited, to come to their aid to prevent any environmental disaster.
“We need a refuse container; without sanitation matching with the water we cannot go,” he said.
Another blight on Afiadenyigba’s otherwise huge success as disclosed by its water and sanitation board, is the non functionality of five of its stand posts as a result of the lack of vendors. Edith Kumpe explained that the situation has arisen “because some feel the remuneration of 15% from the revenue made is not good.”
Anlo Afiadenyigba’s water system is dependent on underground water from the very rich aquifer of the water table of the area.
The tour, which took the journalists to both Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and CWSA facilities and projects in the two regions, was made possible under the EU-funded Improvement of Water Sector Performance Management Framework (IWSPMF) of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing and was led by Project Manager, Mr. Attah Arhin.
Board Chair Madam Edith Kumpe

Monday, August 1, 2011

One borehole, 1,800 people – The story of Akpokope


The Akpokope lone borehole

Akpokope is a fairly large settler community of kente weavers and tomato farmers in the Adaklu Anyigbe District of the Volta Region of Ghana, who must live contented lives, since their major livelihoods bring them much gain.
The revered Ghanaian fabric – kente, goes for GH¢5 per stole or strip, whilst a wrap goes for GH¢30 (three of these make a half piece cloth which sells at GH¢90 and GH¢180 for the full piece).
Tomatoes, which are in season, on the other hand are sold for between GH¢40 to GH¢120 for a big crate to clients from Accra and as far as Kumasi in the Ashanti Region.
Ordinarily, these economic gains must make a person, group of persons or community very happy. This is however not to be said of the people of Akpokope, whose joy has been taken away from them as a result of their very poor access to potable water.
Currently, the over 1,800 inhabitants of Akpokope, most of whom are Ga-Dangmes who migrated from the Greater Accra Region, find themselves in dire straits living in fear of a day coming when they will have no clean water to drink.
The fairly large community currently gets its daily supply of water from a single borehole at the price of 5Gp per four 18 litre buckets, which invariably brings so much pressure to bear on the facility, that it is only a matter of time for the borehole to cough out empty air when the fitted hand is swung as is done around the clock.
Furthermore, what is pertaining at Akpokope is a far cry from the nationally and internationally acceptable figure of 300 people to a borehole.
The community’s situation came to light when 14 journalists belonging to the Ghana Watsan Journalists Network (GWJN) undertook a tour of the Volta Region from July 27 to 29, 2011, to assess access to potable water, improved sanitation and hygiene education in some communities, as well as facilities put in place by service providers to ensure access.
At a community forum, the Chief of Akpokope, Nene Ahlor Tetteh Bediako II said that the situation had arisen because two other boreholes providing water for the community had all broken down and could not be repaired for lack of funds.
He explained that although seven attempts had been made to sink boreholes in the community, only three had been successful and the two broken down facilities could not be repaired, as the water and sanitation committee overseeing the facilities had been dissolved for non-performance, while the interim committee lacks the technical know-how to repair the broken down facilities.
It however, turned out at the forum that the community leadership did not follow due process in dissolving the watsan committee two years ago and had also not informed the overseeing Adaklu-Anyigbe District Assembly of their plight.
Reacting to this revelation, Mr. Oscar Ahianyo, a consultant with the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Volta Region, submitted that “If there is a breakdown for more than a week it is a big problem from the CWSA point of view.”
“If there should be the dissolving of a Watsan Committee, CWSA must be informed,” he charged.
Thus, in all the perplexity surrounding the provision of potable water for the community, it is the 1,800 inhabitants bearing the brunt as expressed by an indigene.
“In fact it is very difficult for us – the pipe is one and the way we have been pumping it…we do it too hard that in the dry season we don’t get water,” Mrs. Sarah Tornu said.
Explaining other steps they take to get water if the borehole becomes inadequate, Sarah said, “We walk for more than four miles to a place called Tordzi,” adding, “Children don’t get water and some teachers don’t go to school because they don’t get water.”
Commenting on the current situation in the community, Nene Ahlor Tetteh Bediako II stated; “If the last borehole breaks down, there will be suffering. We will then have to rely on tanker services.”
In his view, they would be saved from their predicament if government through the Ghana Water Company, extends its pipeline from Kpeve to Aflao as they fall between that stretch.
“We also need pipe borne water,” the chief stressed.
The lack of access to potable water is not the only predicament of the community. According to Akpokope’s chief, “There is only one public toilet in the community and very few household latrines.” “As a result of this, people still defecate in the bush,” he added.
On maintenance of the single public latrine, the chief said, “When there are challenges with the public latrine we use money from the water sales to fix it.”
He lamented that the pay before use system that was employed at the initial stages broke down as people rushed to use the latrine when they were hard pressed and declined to pay after they had used it.
“Others also rush into the bush to defecate when nature calls urgently and currently there is no caretaker. The community once a while organises and cleans up the place,” Nene Tetteh Bediako II divulged further.
The field trip was intended to give the journalists a hands on experience of access to water and improved sanitation in rural Ghana as well as interventions put in place by government and other stakeholders to inform better reportage.
The journalists were led by Mr. Attah Arhin, Manager of the EU-funded Improvement of Water Sector Performance Management Framework (IWSPMF) project of the Water Directorate of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing which sponsored the tour.

Only 0.1% of Ghana’s budget committed to sanitation


Mr. Ben Arthur, CONIWAS Executive Secretary

The Executive Secretary of the Coalition of NGOs in water and sanitation (CONIWAS), Mr. Benjamin Arthur, has stated that contrary to the pledge made by the Ghana government in South Africa as per the ETIKWINI declaration that it would commit 0.5% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) towards sanitation; this year’s budget only shows a commitment of 0.1%.
Further to this, he said despite government’s undertaking in Washington DC in 2010 to commit US$ 200 million every year towards water and sanitation activities starting from this year, this year’s budget did not reflect on this commitment as everyone expected.
Instead, he said when an analysis was done, it was realised that Ghana had met only 45% of the commitments it had pledged, which means that the country is still not going to meet its MDG target.
Opening a sensitisation workshop on the right to water and sanitation for journalists in Accra last week Thursday, CONIWAS’s Executive Secretary stated that the reason for the workshop was to remind each other about the issues of human rights when it comes to water and sanitation.
He said though Ghana’s leaders met and set targets to work towards in the name of MDGs; that most Ghanaians should have access to water by 2015, “when we look at this target in relation to where we are in this country as Ghana, we have four years to reach the MDG, yet the figures that we have is something that we should not be proud of.”
According to Mr. Ben Arthur, Ghana currently has a coverage of 59% for water, while for sanitation in West Africa and Africa, Ghana is last but one at the bottom. He said Ghana still has a national coverage of 13% for sanitation and that even if the figure is put at 20%, it will mean that out of a population of 24 million, only 4.8 million have access to adequate or improved sanitation.
Mr. Arthur thus asked where the remaining over 19 million people in Ghana currently defecate. “But within this domain, we also have a situation where our government have penned their signatures to international conventions and treaties for which they have committed themselves that water and sanitation are human rights issues, and therefore they will make it possible for, if not all of us, most of us to have access to these facilities,” he said.
The CONIWAS Executive Secretary stated – “It means that whichever way possible, our government should try and make these facilities accessible, especially to the poor and the marginalised.”
He lamented that as the figures indicate, most people in the country don’t have access to good water and adequate sanitation facilities, blaming the situation on the lack of investments in the water and sanitation sectors.
“People’s rights, in terms of water and sanitation are being trampled upon if you look at most of the international conventions,” Ben Arthur stressed.
The CONIWAS Executive Secretary emphasised that a critical look at sanitation in the country and its rate of growth indicate it is going to take Ghana another 40 years to attain the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of 54%, which also borders on rights issues.
He said the workshop, which was supported by WaterAid in Ghana and the Centre on Human Rights and Eviction (COHRE),  was held to look at sanitation and water provision in the context of human rights and how to demand accountability from government. “It is for other people to also follow up for duty bearers to also do their part,” he added.
The workshop, he said, was also intended to look at some of the conventions and treaties that underline human rights issues in relation to water and sanitation. He expressed the view that by sharing and learning participants will help each other to understand the issues and urged the journalists to make demands after the workshop, based on what government has committed itself to do.
Convener of the day-long training, Mr. Ben Lartey, Secretary, CONIWAS, stated that the workshop was geared towards partnering with the media to demand government, the private sector and service providers act in accordance to their obligations with respect to the rights to water and sanitation.
He also said it was held to draw attention to the violation of rights, and to pressure government to amend its laws, policies and practices.
For his part, facilitator for the workshop, Patrick Apoya, Chief Executive, Sky Fox Limited and former Executive Secretary of CONIWAS, stated that the outcome of the workshop would be packaged for a National Stakeholders Workshop and also aid in the preparation of a National Action Plan.
He said although traditionally the rights to water and sanitation were accepted, they were still not imbedded in Ghana’s constitution and the ultimate is to have that done. According to Mr. Apoya, many African governments were resisting putting the rights to water and sanitation in their laws and constitutions, adding, “In Africa just about four countries – Kenya, South Africa, Botswana and one other central African country have those rights embedded in their laws.”
The facilitator said the countries have declined to put the rights in their laws, because they think that people will send them to court and a whole lot of misunderstandings about the right to water and sanitation.

Ghana’s cocoa farmers get solar powered boreholes


Sakyibea at the mechanised borehole for some water

Since the legendary Tetteh Quarshie brought cocoa seedlings to Ghana from the island of Fernando Po  many decades ago, the country’s fortunes have improved tremendously and that single cash crop, often referred to as the golden pod, has roped in a lot of revenue.
It has also offered employment to tens of thousands of Ghanaians right from the farms through marketing agencies, Ghana’s Cocoa Marketing Board (COCOBOD), to the numerous factories that depend on the crop as raw material, right down to the wholesalers and retail outlets that sell the products from cocoa.
Name the products that are made from cocoa; from husks to seeds to by-products, both edibles and non-edibles – chocolate, Milo, Chocolim,Bournvita, Ovaltine, Richoco and a host of others, as well as body creams such as cocoa butter and body lotions.
Unfortunately though, the cocoa farmers themselves, through whose toil the country has raked in so much revenue, have not yet felt the full benefits of their toil, apart from the systematic and steady increase in the producer price of the precious beans over the years and the award of scholarships and bursaries to wards of cocoa farmers.
But for Rachel Sakyibea, a volunteer cocoa farmer who hails from Oda Asene, it is not all lost and the prospects are now so bright that she does not hesitate to leave her community to live and work on a remote farm for two weeks or more, because one basic necessity of life – good clean drinking water, has been provided just close by.
“First we did not have water at all; we used to drink from a well but the water was not good. Now that we have water we can spend two weeks here,” she said with relish.
Rachel is one of several volunteer workers on a 170 hectare cocoa farm belonging to her church – the Saviour Church of Ghana, which uses the proceeds to fund its missionary activities while contributing to the economic growth of Ghana.
Potable water has been made accessible to the Saviour Church’s farmers and others in very remote cocoa growing communities, with the introduction and implementation of a project tailored with the cocoa farmer in mind.
The project, dubbed a Government of Ghana project for the provision of solar powered mechanised boreholes in cocoa growing areas which begun last year, involves the provision of 55 of such pumps to cocoa growing communities in the Eastern Region.
It is estimated that when the programme is completed it will serve 16,500 people in cocoa growing communities in about four districts of the region.
Divulging this during a tour by the Ghana Watsan Journalists Network (GWJN) of some water and sanitation facilities under the watch of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Mr. Theo Mensah, leader of CWSA, Eastern Region’s team, said funds from CMB were used to procure the pumps and accessories but could not provide the total cost of a unit or the entire project.
Components of the facility, which are designed with technology from India and parts from Germany, include a mechanised fitting, a solar panel and overhead polytank.
The team of journalists visited one of the beneficiary farms near Abakoase in the Atiwa District, about 15 minutes drive from the main highway and about 45 minutes drive from Koforidua, the regional capital, to have a firsthand experience of the project and how it is improving the lives of its beneficiaries.
For now, only two of the facilities have been installed but it is expected that 44 would have been completed by the end of September, 2011, as the boreholes in those locations have already been dug.
The week-long field trip, which will also take the team of GWJN members to the Volta Region today, July 27, 2011, is being supported by the Water Directorate of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, under its Improvement of Water Sector Performance Management Framework (IWSPMF) project.

Water and Sanitation Journalists tour Eastern Region


The journalists,staff of CWSA and Hon Asirifi (third from right, front row)

A select group of journalists belonging to the Ghana Watsan Journalists Network (GWJN), Monday July 25, 2011, began a tour of some water and sanitation projects in the Eastern Region to acquaint themselves with the benefits accruing to their intended beneficiaries.
The journalists, numbering 14, began their two-day tour with a visit to the offices of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) in Koforidua, the regional capital, where they were briefed on the current state of the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene education services in the region.
GWJN’s touring members also received information from the CWSA team on the achievements chalked, challenges faced and prospects, as far as the provision of water and sanitation services in the region is concerned.
The network continued its field trip supported by the Water Directorate of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing under its Improvement of Water Sector Performance Management Framework (IWSPMF) project, with a courtesy call on the East Akim Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Hon. Simon Peter Asirifi, in whose jurisdiction they began the tour.
During an interaction with the visiting team, the MCE lamented that the bane of the municipality was the high incidence of illegal mining popularly referred to as ‘galamsey’, which had caused the pollution of its main water source, the Birim River and others.
“It is difficult to arrest them because they work mostly in the night and during the day they run away when there is an attempt to arrest them,” he said.
He expressed his exasperation at the fact that even though with the help of security agencies they are trying to nip the situation in the bud, they are sometimes demoralised when the courts release suspects as well as their equipment to them, after they have arrested them and confiscated their heavy equipment.
Touching on sanitation, he stated that it had been realised that only two communities in his jurisdiction were practising open defecation, but hoped to end the practice by the end of 2011.
From there and led by staff of the Eastern Regional CWSA, the journalists first visited Asiakwa, where they held interactions with the Water and Sanitation Development Board and undertook a tour of a small town water supply system and its facilities.
At the facility site, the media persons interacted with management of the system on the operation and maintenance as well as the challenges faced in the delivery of water to the about 5,000 people it serves.
The field trip also took the journalists to a solar operated borehole at a cocoa farm owned by the Saviour Church near Abakoase, where they interacted with volunteers working on the 170 hectares farm.
According to Mr. Theo Mensah of the CWSA, Eastern Region, the borehole forms part of a project being undertaken by the government of Ghana in the region, known as the provision of solar powered mechanised boreholes in cocoa growing areas.
He said although only two of such pumps have been installed so far, the project involves the installation of a total of 55 of such facilities in East and West Akim, Birim Central and South districts.
Mr. Mensah, who was optimistic that at least 44 of such facilities would have been installed by the end of September 2011 because 44 boreholes had already been dug, said the installation is being done by locally trained local mechanics trained by a consultant employed by the Community Water and Sanitation Agency.
The aim of the project, for which pumps and accessories are provided with funds from the Cocoa Marketing Board, is to provide potable water to cocoa growing communities, most of which do not have access to water because they are very remote and marginalised.
The first day’s tour ended with a visit to the Enyiresi Hospital to see at first hand a rain water harvesting facility constructed as part of the CWSA’s institutional support programme to serve basic/senior high schools, clinics and health posts.
Today, the journalists will continue their tour with a visit to the regional office of Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and some communities it serves.

Africa facing increased inequality in sanitation coverage – WaterAid

An international development organisation, WaterAid, has alerted that Africa is facing increasing inequality in access to one of the continent’s most basic services, sanitation and action needs to be taken urgently.
According to WaterAid, this inequity is having dire consequences on the health, wealth and development of the continent.
The statement from the organisation comes on the heels of the third Africa Conference on Sanitation and Hygiene currently ongoing in Rwanda and is informed by a recent research conducted by it,  which will be presented at the conference.
According to WaterAid the research indicates that the poorest, most marginalised and most in-need people across Africa are missing out on access to safe sanitation and that figures show that a staggering 2.1 million children under the age of five have died from diarrhoea caused by poor quality water, sanitation and hygiene since the last AfricaSan conference held three years ago in South Africa.
In the statement issued to coincide with the conference, WaterAid says diarrhoea, linked to inadequate sanitation, is now recognised as the biggest killer of children in Africa, and it is estimated that lack of safe water and sanitation cost the region around 5% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year.
WaterAid has therefore urged ministers meeting at the conference to keep their promises to prioritise and invest in sanitation, particularly ensuring that they reach Africa’s poorest and most marginalised people, and to work together to accelerate progress towards the Sanitation and Water for All global partnership.
Dr. Afia Zakiya, Country Representative for WaterAid in Ghana said: “With over 500 million of our continent’s people living without access to a toilet, the promises and resolutions already passed by governments in Africa have clearly not been realised.
“Our research shows that it is the poorest of the poor who are missing out on these most basic human necessities, having a massive impact on the development of our country and indeed the whole of our continent.”
She added that “For Africa to truly flourish, leaders at AfricaSan must honour their commitments and now deliver on the promises they have made.”
The new research from WaterAid shows that the inequity is fuelled by poor targeting of aid by both donor countries and African governments.
Some of the key findings are inadequate international aid for water and sanitation to sub-Sahara Africa, the continent most off-track for the Millennium Development Goals, with large amounts going to middle-income countries in richer regions, while within African countries, investments in water and sanitation are not going to those with the greatest need, resulting in the poorest of the poor and the most marginalised groups missing out on sanitation.
AfricaSan will see over 600 ministers and experts from African countries meet in Kigali to review commitments set out in the eThekwini Declaration in 2008.
To mark AfricaSan, WaterAid has collaborated with UNICEF and Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) to produce a Traffic Lights discussion paper, highlighting the gaps between government commitments on sanitation and action taken across Africa.
The paper shows that in Ghana for example, despite strong commitments to provide access to clean water and adequate sanitation, there still remains many critical areas such as the need to increase allocation of funds to tackle sanitation issues as well as develop an effective sanitation monitoring and evaluation system to track the effectiveness of interventions among others.

Africa could turn a corner in the sanitation crisis

Africa could finally be turning a corner in the sanitation crisis say civil society groups ANEW and FAN, WaterAid, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and the End Water Poverty Campaign who attended the recently held AfricaSan3 conference in Kigali, Rwanda.
In the opinion of the groups, the high level of participation and engagement shown by African Governments offers cause for optimism (the conference attracted unprecedented levels of participation by delegations from 42 African countries).
The comments were made at the end of the conference which was designed to “put Africa back on track to meet the sanitation MDG”.
The delegations included ministers of water, health, environment and education as well as civil society leaders who also played a big part and pledged to work closely with AMCOW (African Ministers Council) to track progress, identify challenges and seek joint solutions.
Perhaps most critically, for the first time countries agreed detailed action plans to address key blockages to progress.
But even though all countries were able to show some progress towards pre-existing eThekwini commitments made at AfricaSan 2 in 2008, the single biggest challenge identified at the conference was funding. Identified was the fact that there has been little or no progress towards the agreed target of allocating 0.5% of GDP to sanitation, as is the case in Ghana, where the last budget only allocated 0.1% of GDP to sanitation.
Commenting on the state of improved sanitation coverage on the continent, Lydia Zigomo, WaterAid’s Head of East Africa said “If Africa is to stand any chance of getting back on track for the sanitation MDG, then these plans and strategies urgently need to be resourced.”
“But African ministers of finance and donors have a real opportunity to resolve this financing gap through the Sanitation and Water for All partnership. Concrete financial commitments from both sides are essential if millions of Africans, particularly women and girls, are to be lifted out of poverty and lead lives of dignity,” she added.
For now, the challenge in Africa still remains daunting, as figures presented show that the host Rwanda is one of just four countries in Sub Saharan Africa that are currently on-track to meet the sanitation target by 2015.
Available statistics indicate 584 million people in Africa currently do not have improved sanitation, while the poorest are 18 times more likely to practice open defecation.
It has also been observed that the reason for sanitation’s poor showing in Africa is because it is the most neglected with little funding, resources or political will to address the crisis.

Ho Muslim community schooled on environmental sanitation

A cross section of worshipers at the Ho Central Mosque

The Muslim community in Ho in the Volta Region of Ghana, have been told to endeavour to keep their environment clean and tidy, as that would go a long way to prevent the outbreak of communicable diseases in their communities.
Making the call, an Islamic educationist and theologian, Sheikh Ishak Nuamah, said the maintenance of good environmental practices were in consonance with the ideals of Allah and remained a cornerstone of faith of the Islamic religion.
He therefore urged them to live practical lives so as to ensure that they are living in accordance with what the Quran says.
Sheikh Nuamah said these when he addressed the Muslim community at a public education campaign held in collaboration with Zoomlion Ghana Limited in Ho last week.
For his part, Zoomlion’s Volta Regional Environmental Sanitation Supervisor, Mr. Philip Anim, advised the people of Ho to constantly clear chocked gutters in order to complement the efforts of the company to rid the environment of filth and stench.
He advised food vendors to seek medical authorisation before practicing their trade and also enjoined communities to regulate the movement of stray animals, since most of them were agents of diseases.
Mr. Anim  also counselled butchers to ensure that their slaughtered animals were inspected before selling them to the public.
He used the occasion to advertise some of Zoomlion’s services, urged the people  to purchase some of the mobile toilets and not hesitate to visit the offices of Zoomlion for advice on sanitation.
The Volta Regional Imam, Alhaji  Umar  Hamza  Danjumah, also entreated the worshippers and the entire Volta Region community  to weed their surroundings, clear all chocked gutters and also take  part in frequent clean up exercises.

GJA 2010 Award Winners

GJA 2010 Award Winners
Dzifa, Emelia and Gertrude

GJA 2011 Award Winners

GJA 2011 Award Winners
GWJN's 2011 GJA Award-Winning Team

New WASH-JN Executives

New WASH-JN Executives
They are from left - Edmund, Ghana, Aminata: Guinea, Alain: Benin, Paule: Senegal and Ousman: Niger

Celebrating Award

Celebrating Award
The benefits of Award Winning!

Hard Work Pays!

Hard Work Pays!
In a pose with my plaque