Sunday, April 24, 2016

Govt calls for stakeholders’ meeting on water

By Edmund Smith-Asante, ACCRA
Mr Jonny Osei Kofi

A Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Jonny Osei Kofi, has called for an emergency stakeholders’ meeting to address the water stress in the country resulting from the massive pollution of the country’s water bodies.

“We should be able to call for a stakeholders’ meeting. I wouldn’t want the meeting to take place anywhere but the Flagstaff House, so that it does not appear as if it is one ministry’s problem or another because it is a national problem,” he said.

Mr Osei Kofi, who was speaking to research scientists at a Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) symposium on the state of Ghana’s water bodies, tasked the leadership of the research institution to arrange a meeting of stakeholders in the water sector at the Presidency in about 14 days to chart a way forward in the water sector.

The one-day seminar was on the theme: “Our water, our life: Ghana’s water resources in crisis”, and among the topics discussed were: “Status of water resources in Ghana”, “Status of water quality of river basins in Ghana”, “Status of biodiversity in water bodies in Ghana”, “Forest, water and people” and “Water and food security”.

According to Mr Osei Kofi, “we are beyond a crisis situation. We have to do something about it, and I think that the preparation is now”.

The Director of the Water Research Institute (WRI) of the CSIR, Dr Joseph Addo Ampofo, explained that the seminar was to drum home research findings conducted over the years that showed that Ghana was headed for water scarcity by 2020 if the rate of pollution of the country’s water sources continued.

He said although there seemed to be much water for now, “there is economic scarcity due to pollution and insufficient investment in infrastructure to produce or make more water available for all”.
Dr Ampofo said the way forward was to ensure the protection of water sources, adequate water quality, conservation, the restoration of ecosystem functions, among others.

Water quality
Speaking on the status of water quality of river basins in Ghana, the Deputy Director of the WRI, Dr Osmund Ansa-Asare, said water quality monitoring and assessment of the major rivers of Ghana from 2013 showed that there was a general decreasing trend in water quality in the country which had been caused by pollution through human activities such as the removal of vegetative cover, fertiliser use on farmlands and illegal mining.

A retired research scientist, Mr Kweku Amoako Atta de Graft Johnson, said pollution by both legal and illegal mining activities was a major factor in the loss of species and biodiversity in water bodies.

He, therefore, recommended the legalisation of ‘galamsey’ to enable the monitoring and management of their operations.

He also called for the enforcement of the polluter-pays principle, the establishment of a national coordinating body to manage invasive species and the activation of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.

The Director of the Forest Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), Dr Daniel Ofori, also advocated for the restoration, rehabilitation and protection of forests, including the reclamation of degraded forests and watersheds to reverse the trend of pollution.  

A former chief research scientist, Dr Paa Nii Johnson, said the continued destruction of water bodies could affect food security in the country.

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This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on April 21, 2016

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