Ghana’s Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Dr. Kwaku Agyemang Mensah, has noted that the quantity and quality of water can change lives and livelihoods of workers and even transform societies and economies.
On the occasion of the World Water Day (WWD) observed recently, the minister called for a strategic repositioning of water issues, noting that the way they are addressed “will affect the successful achievement of the country’s Medium Term and the Planned Long Term National Development Agenda.”
He stressed that WWD celebrations should “serve as enough inspiration for us to intensity our commitment and awareness drive at reversing the deterioration of our waters … developing a preventive based culture, involving our women, children and youth … in ways that they can contribute effectively to resolving the country’s issues.”
Mensah spoke at a stakeholders’ dialogue as part of events to mark the WWD, held at the palace premises of the James Town Mantse (Chief) at James Town in British Accra. The area boasts of some historic colonial structures including Ussher Fort, James Fort, the two light houses and the building of the Ghana Bible Society.
Speaking during the same occasion, the Managing Director of the Ghana Water Company Limited, Fredrick Lokko, expressed regret at how the firm loses significant volumes of water produced daily to illegal activities of some consumers.
“This,” he said, “impacts negatively on the capacity of the company to sustain the supply of this vital resource without which there is no life.” Mr. Lokko mentioned some of the illegal activities as connection to distribution lines; and perforation of pipe-lines by gardeners, farmers and cattle herdsmen.
He urged Ghanaians to be “patriotic and do the right things to support the Ghana Water Company to serve you better.”
These sentiments were also expressed by the Ashiedu Keteke Sub Metro District Environmental Health Officer, Rev. Chris Gawugbe. He said damage to pipelines expose treated water to communicable diseases, which affect the health and well-being of most of the people. The Vice Chairman of the Coalition of NGOs on Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), Bishop Nathaniel Adams, said, “The issue of water in this country is about safety… we need to change strategies and bring in new methods to make our water safe…”
For his part, the Chief Executive of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Clement Bugase, noted that “there is a cost and responsibility to safe water.” He said his agency currently has a huge challenge to provide about 450 thousand small and rural communities with safe water, saying, “the need is huge and it requires urgent measures to conserve our water resources.”
The James Town Mantse Nii Oblempong Ababio, who was chairman for the function, said, “It has been a lesson learning event,” and called on Ghanaians to protect water bodies and stop dumping refuse in them. He urged the children who participated in the event to educate their parents about the messages on water.
The durbar was preceded by a street procession of school children carrying placards with inscriptions such as “Water is life, save water save life,” and the “Health of our water is our responsibility.”
As part of the activities marking national World Water Day, a School’s Tree Planting Competition was launch at the Ayalolo Cluster of Schools in Accra. The Chairman of the Planning Committee for World Water Day, Mrs. Adwoa Dako, explained the rationale for the competition saying, “It is a way of involving school children in the celebration and educating them on the importance of trees as a buffer against erosion and storms.”
A Tree Validation Auditor of the Greater Accra Regional Forest Services Division, Frank Ankomah, reminded the children of the importance of trees for sustaining lives. The Ayalolo Circuit Supervisor, Mrs. Christiana Maclean, was hopeful that the children would take good care of the seedlings and nurture them into matured trees, so that the premises will become shady and beautiful.
The participating schools are Asia Mills Primary and Junior High, Ayalolo 1 & 2 Primary, Akoto Lante Junior High, and Central Mosque Basic Primary and Junior High. They will be evaluated and awarded at the next celebration of World Water Day.
By Ama Kudom-Agyemang (Accra, Ghana)