Thursday, August 6, 2015

Researchers call for inclusion in search for solutions to problems

By Edmund Smith-Asante, ACCRA
A borehole fixed with a hand pump

Research scientists at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have decried their non-inclusion in the search for solutions to national challenges.

The scientists, who spoke in separate interviews during an in-house mid-year review seminar on groundwater, noted that scientific solutions were needed to solve the country’s water challenges, to bring sustainability to the provision of water.

They said although the country stood to gain from its large stock of groundwater, the lack of a scientific approach to accessing groundwater through the drilling of boreholes hampered the provision of water from that source.

The theme for the seminar was: “Improving Access to Sustainable Water Supply in Rural and Peri-Urban Communities using 2D Electrical Resistivity Tomography.”

Improved methods
Mr Patrick Amankwah Mainoo, a research scientist of the CSIR, who touched on the improvement of access to sustainable water supply in rural and peri-urban communities, called for improved methods to identify the right places to site boreholes for communities.

He said although groundwater resources were the largest portion of freshwater in the world and formed 94.7 per cent of all freshwater available, “The challenge is that the water is not everywhere, and so we need to find scientific ways of locating where we can drill boreholes, which is sustainable.”

“We as scientists are helping the nation by finding methodologies to secure sustainable water supply. We have to encourage scientists to be part of our national solutions. We are quiet but we are helping the nation to move forward,” he stated.

He mentioned that communities along the Fulfulso-Damango-Sawla Road which links the Northern and Upper West regions, now has potable water as a result of research conducted by the Water Research Institute (WRI).

Another research scientist, Mr Evans Manu, said: “We have groundwater, but we the scientists have been relegated into the dustbin. Everybody thinks we can just dig and get it but we need to properly assess and know where we can have enough water to support irrigation so as not to pollute surface water.”

“Everything is money and the nation lacks commitment. We don’t want to push money into scientific studies.”

Rising groundwater level
Speaking to journalists, Dr William A. Agyekum, the Head of Groundwater Division, CSIR, said contrary to perceptions that the northern part of Ghana had very little groundwater, a six-year-long research had confirmed that the groundwater levels were rather rising.

Saying the reason for the rising level was the location of the fracture system, Dr Agyekum said, “up north the aquifers are deep down in the ground. Areas that have aquifer levels close to the surface are the ones that have problems with groundwater fluctuations.”
He stated that the only challenge was human activities such as the dumping of refuse and the disposal of waste which infiltrated the groundwater system.

According to Dr Agyekum, Ghana has a large volume of water stored underground - according to a regional analysis of groundwater level conducted by CSIR.

Polluted water
Speaking on improving access to potable water for downstream communities of the Volta Lake, Mr Collins Okrah, a research scientist, said the communities suffered various water-related ailments as a result of the poor quality of their water brought about by pollution of the Volta River.

He said there was also excess iron in the borehole water due to the nature of the rocks and chloride in the groundwater from the sea, all of which needed money to treat for human consumption.

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This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on July 26, 2015

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