|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.