There has been an uneasy calm in the country from the beginning of the year (2018) over the state of availability of potable water to our communities, families and homes.
At the terminal point of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by December 31 2015 Ghana was said to have achieved 89 percent water coverage nationwide (MDG-6) from 54 percent in 1990 against a target of 77 percent coverage according to the Joint Monitoring Platform (JMP) for the MDGs.’
This came about as a result of visible investments in the water delivery sector by government and its stakeholders which include Development Partners, international and local NGOs , faith based organizations among others.
It must be noted that soon after the end of the MDGs implementation period the UN launched a new development agenda named the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo succeeding former President John Mahama as co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s SDGs Advocates.
However, unlike the MDGs which required that water supply point be at least within a short distance radius of one’s home, the SDGs (SDG-6) would like to see water in every home by 2030-in the kitchen and in the bath-room.
This clearly calls for much more investments than was required under the MDGs, more especially considering the rapid population growth and the physical development of the country which finds expression in the expansion in rural, urban and peri-urban communities.
It is for this reason that we at the Ghan Watsan Journalists Network (GWJN) are worried about the current developments across the country where hardly does any day pass without a report of a new community crying for potable water. Members of GWJN in the Western Region have sent sound clips of people complaining of lack of water in that region.
Households sometimes get cut off from water supply for a whole week, with people resorting to the purchase of sachet water for household uses other than drinking.
According to a 3 fm news report of February 12, 2018 residents in Central Region communities such as Abease, Aboom, Aquarium, Kwaporow and Bricksfield had had their taps running dry for more than 24 hours on a particular day.
In the Teshie-Nungua environs in the Greater Accra Region, there is the re-emergence of the popular yellow vegetable oil gallons that households use in carrying water from water vending points in the community to their homes.
Whereas in the immediate past, after the completion of the desalination plant the community received uninterrupted water supply in their taps for five days, the shutting down of the plant earlier this year has reversed the gains made, with just two days of of water supply, and the taps flowing for just 12 hours on each of the two days.
The GWJN team which visited the communities did not sight any Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) Poly tank, neither did the team see any tanker delivering water to households. Enquiries from community members as to whether there was any such water service by the state water company to lessen the plight on the people drew negative answers.
At the moment, households have gone back to the purchasing of water from poly tanks at between 50 pesewas and 70 pesewas per gallon. There is also an additional cost of 20 pesewas per gallon for carriage by truck and wheel-burrow pushers who help bring the gallons of water home.
At least the team chanced upon a female member of the community who had in the past developed a spine injury due to the weight of carrying water from the vending point to her home. To such a fellow the regular provision of uninterrupted water from the desalination plant for five days in the week was a great relief; while the shutting down of the plant which has sent the people back to the past difficulties represents a bad déjà vu and a nightmare.
Households have had to cough up GHc 140 .00 to purchase one Rambo 600 poly tank of water, while those who can also have their Rambo 1,500 poly tanks filled by private water tankers at double that cost.
Checks from some schools in the Teshie Nungua communities also revealed that the schools need water distribution infrastructure to be extended to them since students and pupils spend so much time fetching water from tanks to flush toilets ad clean up washrooms.
It must be stated that whereas the perception that the water delivered by the desalination plant was salty still persists, households debunked that assertion stating categorically that there was absolutely no problem with the water since it lathers well when used to wash or bath with no foul smell or bad taste as others allege.
Meanwhile it has come to light that Abengoa, the original owners of the Desalination plant are selling their shares to AquaVenture Holdings an American firm for USD 26 million.
For us at GWJN, we demand a full disclosure from management of GWCL on what they know about this transaction between Abengoa and AquaVentures, and as to how the interest of the Ghanaian consumer will be protected under the transaction.
GWCL should also come clean on whether the Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) Agreement under which the water treatment plant was built allowed for such a transaction without giving government of Ghana the first right of refusal.
GWJN demands from GWCL to come clean on the current state of the water situation in the country, since in most of the reported cases it is the areas covered by the water company that have been having challenges with regular water supply.
GWJN is of the view that the country has had a successful implementation of the MDG Goal -6 especially the portion related to potable water delivery, decisions that would be taken at the beginning of the implementation of the
SDGs should therefore be such that they build upon the gains made so far rather than reversing them.