70% of urban population in Ghana shares sanitation facilities – UN

About 70% of Ghana’s urban population shares the available sanitation facilities, the United Nations (UN) says.

According to the UN two million tonnes of human waste are disposed into water bodies everyday with majority happening in major cities of developing countries such as Ghana.

According to facts and figures on water and cities recently released by the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC), many cities especially in the developing world lack convenient waste-water treatment and drainage facilities which leads to the pollution of ground and surface water resources.

“Every day, 2 million tonnes of human waste are disposed of in water courses”, says the UN adding “In Ghana, 70% of the urban population shares sanitation facilities.” This, the UNW-DPAC says, is mainly because most urban populations live in slums. “62 % of the sub-Saharan Africa urban population lives in slums,” it says.

In Africa, 38% of the population is urban and that is expected to rise to 50% in 2050 with 44% of urban dwellers in sub-Sahara Africa using improved sanitation and 35% having access to piped water in the household, it said.

These UN figures come at a time when Ghana is battling with an outbreak of cholera epidemic. This situation the UNW-DPAC says is due to “lack of convenient sanitation and safe water supply in cities”.

It is reported that over 600 people have died from cholera in the country.

In a related development, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has called on countries to adopt innovative ways to ensure adequate water supply in swelling urban cities in developing countries.

According to Alexander Mueller, FAO Assistant Director-General for Natural Resources, in the next 20 years, 60 percent of the world’s population will live in the city.

“Within the next 20 years, 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities, with most urban expansion taking place in the developing world. Ensuring access to nutritious, affordable food for the poorer of these city-dwellers is emerging as a real challenge,” said Alexander Mueller.

The FAO said with expanding populations in the city, it requires an increase of water supplies for drinking, washing and cooking which can be possible through rainwater harvesting which is yet relatively untapped and re-clean of waste water for irrigation purposes.

A Specialist at FAO’s Water Unit, Javier Mateo-Sagasta suggested: “Right now, farmers and cities are competing for water. Cities are using water then putting it back out, polluting the environment. It would make so much more sense if more of the water used in the cities was then cleaned and reused in agriculture,”

Mateo-Sagasta said doing so, would reduce water scarcity and free up more of the precious resource for urban and peri-urban food producers, who would not only spend less on acquiring water but also on buying fertilizers, since treated waste-water is rich in nutrients.

The urban poor pay up to 50 times more for a litre of water than their richer neighbours, since they often have to buy their water from private vendors, according to the UN.


By Ekow Quandzie

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