Francis is in his twenties and a Senior High School (SHS) graduate. Although he is not in a tertiary educational facility yet, his dream of training to become a nurse is alive; thanks to a secure job with the Benyin Community Water Project.
He earns income having been trained by Safe Water Network for managing the system, which serves some three major towns, and surrounding communities. Francis said he hopes to save some income from here and count on the support of his family to take a course in nursing.
He is just one of the almost 30,000 residents of the 19 communities in the Jomoro, Ellembelle, Nzema East and Ahanta West districts of the Western Region whose lives have improved due to a potable community water project sponsored by Kosmos Energy Ghana.
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Done in partnership with an NGO, Safe Water Network, the project has brought relief to thousands of residents who depended on untreated water from rivers and wells with several health implications, the commonest being cholera.
The community water project has incidentally become the first of its kind in those communities, which rely on it, with kiosks of taps located at vantage points across all the communities for easy access. A few households have started connecting the water to their homes, thereby improving their quality of life. Households and individuals pay 5Gp per bucket, while commercial facilities pay twice as much.
GRAPHIC BUSINESS independently visited some of the communities to appraise the project model and gauge the impact, and the results were astonishing.
Foremost, the project marks a sharp departure from years of reliance on untreated water from sources such as the Amanzule and Nzulezu rivers which were often polluted by human activities such as fishing, transportation and the harvesting of other resources from them. Besides these river sources, residents also dug wells, which again got easily contaminated with droppings of waste matter and other contaminants.
“Formerly, there was no pipe system and we relied on the wells. I’m now used to the pipe instead of the wells. I have come to realise that the wells gave us a lot of problems as it is not good for our health. People just drop anything in them which contaminate the wells,” Mr. Francis Amoasi, the young SHS graduate told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS team in Benyin, where one of the treatment stations and overhead tanks is located.
He said schools within the community also relied on water from the pipes for drinking, but could not tell whether the same pertained at their homes.
A couple of years ago, the communities along the Benyin, Esiama, Nzulezu areas recorded high incidence of cholera which was attributed to insanitary conditions, particularly drinking contaminated water.
But records at the Ekabeku Health Centre, which serves about four communities and surrounding areas of the water system’s catchment area, suggest that such incidents have subsided significantly.
The Nursing Officer in charge, Mr Broni Anin Agyei, said “since the water system came into being, we have been recording low levels of gastroenteritis – mostly waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera.”
Mr Agyei and his assistant, Ms Akua Abrefa, said the situation was a marked improvement over the hitherto high cases that presented at the clinic.
The quality of water from each of the two 100,000-litre overhead tank is verified periodically in recognised laboratories in Accra.
Mr Amoasi and his counterpart at the Beku treatment and supply station, Mr Peter Alluekeh Mia, said challenges remained for the smooth operation of the system. They were unanimous in calling for more education for people to change their attitude towards relying more on the tap water for domestic consumption.
Challenges specific to the Beku communities include the colouration of the water from colourless plain to yellowish-brown whenever it rained, although according to Mr. Mia, that did not affect the taste and quality of the resource.
In that same community, the households preferred stand pipes hoisted overhead so they would not require anybody’s assistance in carrying the bucket/container of water onto their heads. This concern is so important to the community to the extent it is affecting patronage, the GRAPHIC BUSINESS gathered.