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World Water Day celebrated on low key following prevalence of COVID-19

BY: Kwame Asare Boadu
A child drawing water from a borehole
A child drawing water from a borehole

This year' s World Water Day was observed on a low key in Ghana and other parts of the globe yesterday as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Ghana, there were no formal events, a far departure from the past when both public and private institutions organised ceremonies that focused on freshwater and raised awareness of the plight of millions of people living without access to safe water.

Media reports across the world indicated similar situations in other countries.

This year's celebration was on the theme: " Water and climate change", focusing on how water and climate change are inextricably linked.

UN Water, which is in charge of the celebrations, stressed the need for people to follow international and national authorities’ guidelines on how to prevent themselves from the COVID-19.

"One of the most effective ways to slow down transmission is to wash or sanitise our hands," it said in a statement.
It, however, observed that globally, three billion people had no access to basic hand-washing facilities at home.

"Lack of access to clean water makes a person vulnerable to diseases and ill health. It is especially acute among those living in extreme poverty in rural areas, as well as in informal urban settlements," it added.

Significance

In the state of quietness and critical thinking over COVID-19, the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources and an environmental non-profit organisation, Friends of Rivers and Water Bodies, have stressed the importance of freshwater in the development of the country.

The sector Minister, Ms Cecilia Abena Dapaah, in a statement, said: "We are not in normal times when the world, including Ghana, is currently facing the COVID-19 pandemic. Water plays an important role in keeping ourselves safe from exposure to the deadly virus.”

"Clearly, advice and opinions from every quarter are not hard to come by, but, still, among the best pieces of advice we have is to wash our hands a lot. We are all, therefore, entreated to encourage and share knowledge and experience for a positive chain reaction across the country," it added.

It further said Ghana had made significant progress in the provision of basic drinking water for the people.

"The noteworthy investments made to improve water supply and sanitation services increased from 78 per cent in 2017 to 81 per cent in 2019, while the population with safely managed drinking water sources also increased from 27 per cent in 2017 to 36 per cent in 2019.

"Actually, the Ghana Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2017/2018 indicates that eight in every 10 household populations in the country are using at least basic drinking water services," it added.

Water management

The President of Friends of Rivers and Water Bodies, Nana Dwomoh Sarpong, who spoke to the Daily Graphic, said Covid-19 provided an opportunity for Ghana to reflect on water management to prevent a crisis situation.

"Water management starts from the source, but, unfortunately in Ghana, we don't want to manage water from the source.

As we celebrate World Water Day, we should not be leaving anyone behind; but our actions and inaction so far give cause for fear," he said.

He said the destruction of sources of water was a dangerous development and asked officials put in charge of water to stop complaining and act.

Nana Sarpong commended the government for the One-village, One-dam initiative, saying if pursued vigorously, it could help address water problems in some hard-hit communities.