Water, a resource we must guard jealously

Water, a resource we must guard jealously

World Water Day (WWD) was marked on March 22. The day has been held annually since 1993, under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) to highlight the importance of freshwater. WWD is further celebrated to raise awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water.


Over the past three decades, the day has also been used as a call to nations to tackle the global water crisis in line with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) six – Water and sanitation for all by 2030.

This year’s theme: “Leveraging water for peace,” brings to the fore the fact that water is a precious resource that can be used as a tool for peace, especially when communities and countries collaborate to protect and preserve it. In another vein, water can be a trigger of conflict when access is denied or usage is inequitably distributed.

This year’s WWD also brought to sharp focus the challenges confronting the country’s water sector and the need for all Ghanaians to contribute their quota to removing the obstacles to guarantee water security.

The 2022 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS) by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) revealed that 19.1 per cent of the country’s 33 million population did not have enough drinking water in the month preceding the survey.

According to the survey, the Northern Region recorded the highest percentage (32.1 per cent), meaning one in every three persons did not have adequate drinking water. The other regions with higher percentages of people without enough drinking water are Oti, with 31.2 per cent; North East, with 26.2 per cent; Upper East, with 14 per cent; and Ashanti, with 14.5 per cent.

The report, which was released to mark the 2024 WWD, added that nationally, 6.5 per cent of the population travelled more than 30 minutes round-trip to obtain drinking water.

The GSS also indicated that “more than a quarter (27.5 per cent) of the population in the North East Region reported travelling more than 30 minutes to access water, the highest recorded, followed by the Northern (18.6 per cent) and Upper West (18.6 per cent) regions.

The GSS stated that nationally, 83.8 per cent of the population had at least basic drinking water service, defined as an improved water source with either water on the premises or a round-trip collection time of 30 minutes or less.

While many parts of the country lack access to quality drinking water, human activities such as illegal mining and farming along river banks continue to render water bodies heavily polluted.

The Pra, Tano, Offin, Ankobra, Oda and other rivers that hitherto provided fish and freshwater for millions of people in the Ashanti, Eastern, Western, Western-North, Central, Bono, Bono East and Ahafo regions have been reduced to nothing.

For the past few years, the Ghana Water Company (GWCL) has been struggling to meet the demand for water in the country partly because the company’s treatment plants are under threat by illegal miners.

The Daily Graphic sees this development as worrying because while the national water demand is 321 million gallons per day, the GWCL currently produces 199 million gallons, leaving a deficit of 122 million gallons.

Again, out of the 320 million cubic metres of water the GWCL produces annually, 42 per cent of the total volumes of water produced is lost through burst pipelines, water theft and other factors.

The UN estimates that globally, water consumption will increase by 30 per cent by 2050, leading to an even widened supply gap for countries already suffocating from water stress.

It further estimates that without scaled-up interventions, demand for water will outstrip known freshwater resources by 40 per cent in less than 15 years.

The Daily Graphic believes that building peace and security in the water sector would require stronger cooperation among stakeholders to sustainably harness the resource.

We are of the view that aside from the giving of flowery speeches and insightful statements to mark WWD, the event must be used as a rallying point for collective action and dedication to halting water pollution to ensure that water is made available to everyone everywhere. 

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