Social / Feature



Water: A Worldwide Problem

Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, Ghanadot


Accra, March 22, Ghanadot - Water, the number one basic necessity of life, covers two-thirds of the Earth’s surface. But only 2.5% of this constitutes fresh water, while less than 1% is usable.


The fresh water is renewable, only through snow and rainfall, at a rate of 40,000-50,000kilometres square per year.


According to the United Nations (UN) and other water experts, water availability on planet Earth is approximately 104million cubic kilometers, out of which, 97% is salty.


Instructively, over 1.1billion people lack access to safe water, and 2.6billion live without proper sanitation.


Furthermore, fresh water available to mankind, is not evenly distributed throughout the world, and is often not available where it is needed, resulting in large dry regions.


Water scarcity is exacerbated in many parts of the world, including Ghana, by growing populations, greater per capita-water demand, and diminishing fresh water sources (due to drought conditions, desertification and other degradations of the ecosystems). Hence nations across the globe have become desperate, and are trying to find water by hook or crook to meet the water demands of their citizens.


This feature article is intended to commemorate World Water Day, which falls on Sunday, March 22 every year. The Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to draw global attention to the looming water crisis and the need for collaborative measures to address the problem.


The theme for this year’s celebration is “Shared Water-Shared Opportunities” with special focus on trans boundary waters.


The theme aims at nurturing the opportunities for co-operation in trans boundary water management that can help build mutual respect, understanding and trust among countries and promote peace, security and sustainable economic growth.


With every country seeking to satisfy its water needs from limited water resources, some foresee a future filled with conflict. But history shows that cooperation, not conflict, is the most common response to trans boundary water management issues.


Meanwhile, water-related diseases result in over five million deaths annually, most of them children. The impact of climate change adds an alarming new dimension to the challenge of delivering rights to water and sanitation, which already threatens to overwhelm national and global strategies.


Amazingly, water is inexhaustible; it has no substitute that is why the emerging water crisis in Ghana is a major obstacle, which if not given a second look, would obliterate the developmental gains in the country.


This situation therefore requires the aggressive attention of the powers that be, to solve it before it gets out of hand.


It is in view of this that a group, calling itself the National Coalition against Privatisation of Water (NCAP), is passionately calling for the termination of the Management Contract between Aqua Vitens Rand Limited (AVRL) and the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL).


The GWCL, acting under government instructions and World Bank guidance, contracted AVRL to manage its 82 urban water systems for a five-year period. GWCL laid off 1,600 trained Ghanaian staff for an insulting sum of $8 million. By contrast AVRL brought in a 12-man “expert” workforce that earns $10million, and other incentives including tax exemptions for five years”, the coalition noted.


According to the Chairman of the Coalition, Alhassan Adam, the contract states among other things, that AVRL must ensure water supply levels to all the urban delivery points covered by the contract.


Water rationing and cut-offs are rampant, the situation is becoming serious in the big cities such as Accra, Kumasi, Tamale, Cape Coast, Ho, Koforidua, amongst others, whilst cholera, malaria and typhoid are on the ascendancy”, he emphasized.


For the past months there has been not been a week in which there are no reports of water shortages in these cities.


The situation has become a norm such that AVRL has come our several times to justify it by passing the blame to dry weather and other climatic conditions in the country.


Sometime in 2007, the Parliament of Ghana had to suspend sittings, due to water shortages, which made the use of its washrooms impossible. This is unprecedented in the history of Ghana.





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