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Our Water, Our Life
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Diseases from dirty water kill more people every year than all forms of violence, famine and war, whilst access to clean water and basic sanitation can save around 16,000 lives every week.

Every day in rural communities and poor urban centers in Ghana, hundreds of people suffer from the lack of access to clean, safe water causing lots of deaths in the nation.

Having access to clean water is the first step to breaking the cycle of poverty, yet millions of people still live without it.

Women and girls especially bear the burden of walking for miles to gather water from streams and ponds full of water-borne disease that is making them and their families ill. According to research, women in Africa are responsible for 72 per cent of water collected and spend 40 billion hours a year walking for it.

When a community gets water, women and girls get their lives back. They start businesses, improve their homes, take charge of their own futures, more time to grow food, earn an income, and go to school – all of which fight poverty.

The burden of fetching water often falls on women, preventing them from working or getting an education. Walking long distances to get water increases the risk of sexual assault, and the lack of proper sanitation facilities in schools is the main reason young girls drop out of school. Access to clean water helps women get the same opportunities as men.

Water is a strategic resource in the globe and an important element in many political conflicts, yet dirty water causes health impacts and damage to biodiversity.

Safe water, clean hands, healthy bodies, time lost to sickness is reduced and people can get back to the work of lifting themselves out of poverty.

Access to water leads to food security with less crop loss and hunger is reduced. Schools can feed students with gardens, reducing costs.

A 2006 United Nations report stated that "there is enough water for everyone", but that access to it is hampered by mismanagement and corruption. In addition, global initiatives to improve the efficiency of aid delivery, such as the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, have not been taken up by water sector donors as effectively as they have in education and health, potentially leaving multiple donors working on overlapping projects and recipient governments without empowerment to act. How do we tackle the water crisis?

We need to find the best sustainable solution in each part of the nation thus whether a well, a piped system, a BioSand Filter, or a system for harvesting rainwater. And with every water point the government should coordinate sanitation and hygiene training, and establish a local Water Committee to help use and maintain water in its clean state.

Every $1 invested in water and sanitation results in $8 of overall economic revenue thus teaching people to wash their hands and properly use latrines, saves more lives than any vaccine. In fact, sanitation and hygiene programmes double the impact of every water project - decreasing disease in a community by an average of 47 per cent.

Dr Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah, Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, is concerned about the dwindling financial support to the WASH sector, despite their increasing responsibilities as a result of global population increase in December last year.

According to the Minister, Ghana had embraced the TrackFin Initiative as a headway to strengthening national systems for the collection and analysis of financial information for WASH policy-making and programming, and also to help improve the understanding of how financial resources for the sector are collected at both national and global levels.

He urged stakeholders to discuss ways of removing bottlenecks that hinder the smooth implementation of the WASH TrackFin Initiative in their respective countries to help achieve the SDGs.

From the perspective of Alhaji Collins Dauda, the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), 2016 would be a year of action in terms of the implementation of sanitation activities and achieving results. He, however, urges attitudinal change towards issues of sanitation and hygiene.

“Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies should intensify the enforcement of sanitation bye-laws to serve as punitive measures to offenders”, he says, adding that although habits developed by people cannot easily be changed overnight, but with continuous education and sensitisation there will be a meaningful change over time.

The media too have the responsibility to intensify public education on the negative effects of open defecation, and encourage the provision of toilets in all domestic settings a shared responsibility by all stakeholders.

Most countries accepted the goal of halving by 2015 the number of people worldwide who do not have access to safe water and sanitation during the 2003 G8 Evian summit but it is still a pressing issue. Water is becoming scarcer in certain places, and its availability is a major social and economic concern. Currently, about a billion people around the world routinely drink unhealthy water.

Even if this difficult goal is met, it will still leave more than an estimated half a billion people without access to safe drinking water and over a billion without access to adequate sanitation. Poor water quality and bad sanitation are deadly; some five million deaths a year are caused by polluted drinking water, and the World Health Organization estimates that safe water could prevent 1.4 million child deaths from diarrhoea each year.

Water-poor countries use the importation of goods as the primary method of importing water (to leave enough for local human consumption), since the manufacturing process uses around 10 to 100 times products' masses in water.

The distribution of drinking water is done through municipal water systems, tanker delivery or as bottled water. Governments in many countries have programmes to distribute water to the needy at no charge.

Reducing usage by using potable water only for human consumption is another option. In some cities such as Hong Kong, sea water is extensively used for flushing toilets citywide in order to conserve fresh water resources.

Polluting water may be the biggest single misuse of water, to the extent that a pollutant limits other uses of the water, it becomes a waste of the resource regardless of benefits to the polluter.

Other people pay the price of water pollution, while the profits of private firms are not redistributed to the local population and victims of this pollution. Pharmaceuticals consumed by humans often end up in the waterways and can have detrimental effects on aquatic life if it does not bio-accumulate and is not biodegradable.

Source: GNA

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