General News Tue, 11 Mar 2008

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CJA on the worsening water crisis in Ghana


The CJA has observed keenly with utter disgust the worsening water crisis engulfing our national life. The deterioration has been fast and worrying in the last few months. In view of this we expect the NPP government to act and not to be addressing press conferences with its allies in the water sector. Governments are entrusted with the responsibility to provide, if not all, at least the obvious necessities for man’s survival. Water is one of such necessities.

Water is an important constituent of the human body. It is factual that approximately sixty percent, 60%, of the human body mass is water. This clearly underscores the importance of water.

Owing to the worsening situation of inadequate and inaccessible portable drinking water, most Ghanaians spend much of their productive hours in the morning looking for water. Women and children are usually the sufferers. The situation is even worse in the peri – urban and rural areas: Women and children suffer snake bites, scorpion stings, rape and several other ordeals in their quest to secure water for survival. As a result of ‘water hunt’, school children report to school late, tired and emotionally destabilized. Workers not only go to work late but are also tired and anhedonic. Productivity suffers as a result. In our tertiary institutions, the situation is worse: The use of water closets by multitudes without water to flush has become the order of the day. In our hospitals, the situation has become increasingly dire; patients are sometimes requested to provide their own water whiles on admission.

Water borne diseases continue to burden us because policy makers have failed to resolve the issue of how to make portable water affordable and accessible to citizens. Most Ghanaians walk about thinking they have Typhoid fever. Cholera, Dysentery, Guinea worm, Bilharzia and other water-borne and water related diseases still plague us after fifty one years of our independence from colonial rule. Did we go or did we come?

We believe that it is the sacred duty of government to provide water for the governed. Failure to do so amounts to complete mismanagement of the electorate’s mandate. Government must be responsible for the provision of water because the politics in the board rooms of private water companies has never been pro - poor. Again in the context of global warming, a multi-faceted approach is required in the management and preservation of our water bodies. The private companies are most unlikely to venture into this direction.

Indeed even if Ghanaians do not have enough to drink, the ‘unholy’ network within the water sector will ensure that water bottling companies shall have enough even to meet their export demands. Simply put who cares when Ghanaians are thirsty?

We have monitored the debate between Aqua Vitens Rand Limited (AVRL), and the National Coalition Against Water Privatisation, NCAP. We also observed the Minister of Water Resources Works and Housing as he took his turn in Parliament, we dare say that this country will be better served if the submissions of NCAP are taken seriously.

What is the monthly salary of AVRL officials?

What expertise is AVRL offering that Ghanaian employees cannot effectively and efficiently offer?

Has the management style of AVRL improved the amount of bacteria in drinking water?

Has AVRL managed to run our water company effectively and efficiently?

If so why the myriad of burst pipes which flood our streets sometimes for three days without attention?

If so why the unwarranted increases in water tariffs?

In this vein we call on government to act sensibly and responsibly to ensure that portable water becomes available and accessible to Ghanaians.

Issued By The CJA on March 11, 2008

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (Member CJA)

Source: Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa(Member CJA)

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