Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Safe Drinking Water Projects in Ghana

The team arrived in Sandema to warm welcomes from both our host families and the community as a whole. So far we have been spending our days planning out activities for the groups we will be running here. The LIFE project works in conjunction with local NGOs to improve the lives of disabled people in Sandema and the Builsa North district of the Upper East region in Ghana. We aim to do this by planning inclusive activities within the local Boys Club and the Girls Club, which will hopefully show that by making sure people with disabilities are included and supported within the community, that they can be valuable members of society. There is a common belief in the area that a child born with a disability is a curse from God, and therefore, a shame on the family. We must work delicately around this belief to try and change people’s perception of the disabled and the challenges they face on a daily basis when trying to integrate into community life. 

The new LIFE Team (From left to right: Lauren Kelly, Joana Nabilla, Adrian Wrigh, Joda Pow, Paul Asiawon, Estelle Oduro, Kirsty Ellis, Ida Ayabalie Achuroa, Mutawakilu Osman, Carys Bainbridge, Daniel Agyei Mintah)

As we are the 17th cohort to this area, we are working with the advantage that the project is already fairly well-grounded, and people’s attitudes have been steadily changing as the influence of the LIFE team has grown. Through active participation with the locals and community sensitizations, we have helped to perpetuate the idea of inclusion within schools, not only in the classroom, but also in sporting activities. The LIFE project has helped to provide specialized training for local P.E. teachers on inclusive lesson planning and disability orientated sports, such as wheelchair basketball.
So far we have been received with gratuitous positivity from everyone from local businessmen, to young people with learning disabilities and even the Paramount Chief of Sandema himself, Nab-Azagsuk Azantilow II, who has thanked us all for travelling to his community from our various homes to benefit his community.

One of the main goals of international development as a whole is to improve the livelihoods of people across the world. In the Builsa North District of Sandema, Ghana, one of the ways this is being achieved is through the water projects. Currently around 80% of the people in this area are able to install water pipes to their homes to provide them with clean drinking water. The remaining 20% of the community are still reliant on bore hole water, which is pumped up from an underground source via a hand-pumped tap.

Sandema resident collecting water from a bore hole

As the LIFE project is all about raising awareness for the rights of people with disabilities in Ghana, and specifically the community of Sandema, we are very interested in finding out whether or not these facilities are easily accessible to PWD’s. Due to the incredibly high rate of utility bills in the country, combined with high rates of youth unemployment and many disabled people not being able to find work, most PWDs cannot afford to pay the fees to have water pipes fitted in their homes. We are also interested in finding out whether there are still people in this community that are reliant on boiling the local stream water. Many people in the district have relied on this method in the past, especially during the dry season where water tables declined in the community and some people, especially the poor were having to fetch water from the stream.

Since 2000, the Member of Parliament for the Sandema constituency, Sylvester Azantilow, and the district chief executive of Builsa North have partnered up to eradicate the issue in the district, by providing small community water projects in Sandema. However, this has not been successful so far, despite the fact that the water project helps in the community, and there are still many people who cannot afford to pay water utility bills and have to depend on bore hole water for survival. Another common issue people of the community face is that some of the bore holes are not easily accessible due to the fact that they are placed a long way from their homes, usually along uneven dirt roads, that can be especially hard to traverse for people with a physical handicap. Clean drinking water is a necessity to everybody in the world, and the problem could possibly be resolved by expanding the water project in Sandema and imposing a cap on the price of utilities, to ensure that everyone in the community can afford the price of water. It could also be beneficial to place more bore holes around rural areas, and to improve the local road infrastructure to ensure everyone had realistic access to areas that boreholes are located.

Stream running through Sandema - unsafe source of water due to inaccessibility and litter

   “About 51% of the region’s population has access to potable drinking water. Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) supplies pipe-born water to Bolgatanga, Chuchuliuga, Zebilla, Bawku, Sandema, Navrongo, Bongo and Paga. Almost two-thousand (1,627) hand-pumps (boreholes) and a number of hand-dug wells serve a majority of the rural population. While the water treated for consumption in Bolgatanga is from the Vea Dam, the pipe-born water systems in the other townships make use of mechanized boreholes. The dam is also used for irrigation and fish farming.” – News Ghana

By Muta Osman and Adrian Wright

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