Residents at Timeabu in the Ejisu-Juabeng Municipality of the Ashanti Region have been hit with an acute water crisis as result of illegal mining activities in the area.
The only source of drinking water, ‘Banko’ Stream, has been polluted while the two bore-holes in the community are also faulty.
The two boreholes, when they are functioning, pump contaminated water through the pipes, and due to this residents are unable to depend on this water source.
For the timely government clampdown on illegal mining, the situation would have been worse.
The pollution of the ‘Banko’ stream will impede the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Six by Timeabu and other surrounding communities.
The SDG-6 prescribes safe and affordable water supply for all by 2030.
The once clean water from the stream has now turned brown and clayey, compound the suffering of the already deprived residents.
Children have had to travel long distances to access small amounts of clean water for domestic use.
The source of their plight is a small town at Asisirewa in the Bosomtwe District, where illegal mining popularly called ‘galamsey’ was once rife. These days, however, illegal mining activities have died down but not totally stopped.
“We don’t get potable water to drink and bath, when we use this [polluted water] we get a different kind of reactions on our bodies. It is affecting us. You should find ways to retreat the water for us,” Kwasi Kusi, a resident said.
He is worried because although he is poor he has to use the little money that trickles into his pocket to buy pure water to drink and bath. Many residents can relate to Kwasi’s challenge.
Economic activities, especially, farming is also under threat as people lose their source of livelihoods.
Fifty-seven-year-old Cosmos Boamah Darko is a farmer who fears his occupation is no longer secured and food shortage looms.
“Illegal mining is wasting our water, wasting our time and wasting our land. Some time to come we will not have water to drink,” he laments.
A 2016 test conducted on the ‘Banko’ stream, by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) LAB revealed the water contained 110,000 milligrams per litre of micro-bacteria (faecal matter).
This falls way below the World Health Organisation standard for zero amount faecal matter to make it suitable for consumption.
At a sensitisation workshop in Kumasi in May this year, Chief Executive Officer of Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Worlanyo Kwaadwo Siabi, reveals almost every region in Ghana has a problem with water quality because the majority of people use substantially ground water sources.
“We have problems with iron and manganese and fluoride in water. In the Ashanti Region, we have almost 33 per cent of that. Virtually 33 per cent of all the systems that are provided have problems with iron and manganese and so must be treated,” he said.
According to him, the issue of arsenic is another emerging problem. Mr. Siabi observes arsenic pollution is on the increase.
“Scientists have related it to cancer and other serious health problems which measures are being put in place to address,” he said.
Mr. Siabi, however, revealed the agency is embarking on structural policy reforms on water and sanitation to address these challenges in the bid to provide safe water.