Today March 22,2017 is World Water Day focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
The Day was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.
The World Water Day 2017 focuses on treatment and reuse of “Wastewater.”
Worldwide,1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio.In Africa, 319 million people, representing 32% of sub-Saharan Africans, don’t have safe drinking water.
Nearly 27 million people do not have access to clean water in Somalia, South Sudan, northeastern Nigeria and Yemen. Estimated 12% of the world population lacks clean drinking water, and water-related diseases account for 3.5 million deaths each year,which according to World Water Council,is more than the number of deaths by car accidents and AIDS.
Ghana is currently going through water crises with the combine effect of Climate Change and illegal mining activities which has led to the pollution of most major rivers, streams and other water source while other water bodies are drying up.Water table has dropped in most part of the country making it difficult for boreholes pump required water to meet demands of communities.Researchers have warned that,Ghana may import water from 2030 should the current rate of water pollution continue unabated .Some Water Treatment Plants in the country are intermittently shut down due to unprecedented turbidity level of raw water source as a result of illegal mining .
The Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2015, include a target to ensure everyone has access to safe water by 2030, making water a key issue in the fight to eradicate extreme poverty,however,Ghana may not achieve this target.It is estimated that close to 10 million Ghanaians out of the total 25 million population (2016), do not have access to potable water .
The government has announced plans to tackle head-on ,the illegal mining activities to safeguard river bodies and the environment however,it will require indefatigable political will to deal with the canker due to involvement of influential forces in the illegal activities .
With this huge Water crises looming in the Country ,it is imperative that,Government of Ghana and Africa as a whole also redirects attention to Waste water treatment to mitigate the impact.
Maxwell Anim Gyampo of the Department of Earth and Environment Science of the University for Development Studies ,Navrango ,Ghana stated in a research conducted on “WasteWater Production,Treatment,and Use in Ghana” cited (Agodzo 2003) that ” In 2006,estimated total amount of wastewater (domestic- grey and blackwaters produced in Urban Ghana was estimated to be approximately 280 million m3.With increasing spread of processing facilities into inland areas future increases in the percentage of wastewater from industrial sources could be expected ”
The research document further stated that “It is estimated that Urban wastewater Generation in Ghana will increase from about 530,346 m3/day (36%) in 2000 to about 1,452,383 m3/day (46%) in 2020”
The document stated that,only 8% of domestic waste waster undergo some form of treatment with almost industrial wastewater along the Coast discharges its effluent into the ocean without treatment.
The Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) says less than 10% of wastewater in the country is treated and as such there’s the need for measures in prioritizing recycle of wastewater to enhance socio-economic development. This implies that,despite the water stress in the country,the little potable water available are being wasted even when it can be treated for re-use .
This means,it will be extremely prudent for the government of Ghana to invest huge monies to improve sewerage systems and treatment in each municipality for re-use particularly for agricultural purposes and domestic activities to help reduce water stress and water scarcity in most parts of Ghana. Treated wastewater can also be channeled for drinking by Domesticated animals in particular cattle competing with human in getting water to drink which has led to several clashes in parts of the country,use for cooking,bathing and most domestic and industrial uses.
Written by Annor Obed a.k.a Kojo Ansah ,Environmental Journalist.