Need to protect water bodies
On Friday, March 22, the world’s attention would be focussed on water and every United Nations (UN) member state is expected to mark the day with an awareness creation of the need for water and its importance in the development of a given society.
The day has been set aside to stress the importance of water in the lives of people as a community or a nation and also draws attention to the numerous challenges that Ghanaians everywhere face in getting access to clean water.
The theme for this year’s world water day celebration is “International Day for Water Cooperation”.
To draw global attention to the benefits of cooperation in water management and beyond the cooperation is a fundamental challenge that all Ghanaians must focus on so that together with a concerted effort every person would get involved in uprooting the canker that has eaten into the fabric of society leading to scarcity of water even in the midst of plenty.
Water bodies in many parts of Ghana have become an eyesore due to wanton destruction of the environment through negative human practices with illegal mining popularly known as “galamsey” featuring prominently among the vices that are fast depleting water bodies.
The issue of bad sanitation management also comes to mind in such times when the focus and the lenses are pot on such an important natural resource that human survival hinges on, either in the developed world or in the developing world.
One example is the Densu River at Nsawam which is the source of fresh water for the Ghana Water Company to treat and supply to many Ghanaians.
But the Densu River is an eyesore, its banks have become dumping sites for residents at Nsawam and Ghanaians lament on sighting the sorry state of the Densu River as if it is of no use yet it serves many Ghanaians.
The Birim River at Akyem Abuakwa is not different from the sorry state of the Densu River but in that case, the destruction of the water body is due to illegal mining that has brought severe devastation to the people of the area and all others who rely on the Birim River as their source of drinking water.
As if that is not enough, illegal miners have tried to divert the water course, leading to the browning of the water to the extent that the Ghana Water Company at a point had to shut down their treatment plant within the Akyem Abuakwa area due to heavy nature of pollution.
Today the people of Akyem Abuakwa are being forced to rely on sachet water for their own safety to prevent the many diseases that the drinking of the Birim River would bring to them even after treatment.
Indeed cooperation can only work when all parties and stakeholders come to the understanding that activities that threaten water bodies is a recipe for chaos.
With the effects of climate change which is fast eroding gains in the agricultural sector, when water bodies are not well treated, Ghana and many countries in Africa are estimated to suffer water shortage leading to huge economic crisis and poverty.
The World Water Day must remind all of us as a people that access to water has become a challenge due to several reasons including human activities and therefore all must get on board to fight the degrading human activities such as illegal mining, illegal cutting of trees that protect water bodies and building on waterways.
As the world celebrates the day, the authorities must ensure that water bodies are kept safe, those responsible for ensuring that activities such as illegal mining and lumbering that destroy water bodies are dealt with properly.
On Friday when the entire world concentrates on water issues, let us remember that the theme for the day which dwells on cooperation in water management can only become realistic when there is water to manage because if there is no water tomorrow, there would be nothing to manage.
By Bertha Badu-Agyei