Ghana progresses in its demonstration project on water-smart solutions

Ghana’s demonstration of water-smart solutions is steadily progressing following strengthened engagements with members of the Community of Practice (CoP) for their input to develop a plan to monitor and control the quality and risks of the innovations.

The demonstration (pilot) in Accra is part of a European Union Commission-funded project named “Achieving wider uptake of water-smart solution” (WIDER UPTAKE).

In the project, Ghana is demonstrating the innovative use of treated wastewater for urban agriculture in the city of Accra, and to produce biochar from faecal sludge as a substitute for wood-based charcoal for use by small and medium scale enterprises.

Dr Gordon Akon-Yamga, a Research Scientist with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Science and Technology Policy Institute (CSIR-STEPRI), at a scoping workshop for CoPs in Accra, underscored the importance of their input in the development of a plan for monitoring and controlling the possible health and quality risks associated with the project interventions and the final product.

He said it was part of the activities under the Work Plan 2 (WP2) of the project, which, also, required the development of a database for compilation of data from different case studies, as well as the calibration and validation of the developed general monitoring procedure by application in the different case studies.

The Project, he said was being implemented in collaboration with the CSIR-Water Research Institute (CSIR-WRI), CSIR-Institute of Industrial Research (CSIR-IIR), and the Sewerage Systems Ghana Limited (SSGL) representing the industry partner.

Dr Ebenezer Ansa, the Project Lead at CSIR-WRI, said some of the approaches to monitoring and assessing risks included the collection of water from drains and also the soil currently being used by urban vegetable farmers, and testing them for the presence of various pollutants, pathogens, organic matter and nutrients.

He said although these sources were cheap and rich in minerals, they posed high health risks, and therefore a better alternative should be provided to the farmers in a sustainable manner.

Dr Ansa also explained that some baseline studies had been done to assess the volume of water used daily by the farmers, and the number of beds, and formed the basis for calculating the volumes of treated wastewater to be stored in their reservoir for onward discharge.

Dr. William Owusu Oduro, a Principal Research Scientist, indicated that the benefits of using biochar as a substitute for fossil-fuel were enormous and included a reduction in wood logging, promotion of an evergreen environment, and inducing a reduction in the cost of renewable fuel prices.

He mentioned some key parameters upon which the project seeks to achieve, as the compliance to high product quality in terms of (strength, burning quality and calorific value); basic environmental hazard regulations; and good human health.

The participants, during the breakout sessions, discussed issues such as existing regulations that products such as the biochar and treated wastewater being demonstrated must fulfil in terms of quality standards, human safety, and environmental integrity.

It came out that although Ghana had no explicit legislation on the reuse of treated wastewater for agricultural purposes, or the use of biochar developed from faecal sludge, there were national bye-laws that ensured product quality, environmental and food safety.

The research team said they were being guided by the WHO guidelines, European Union Regulations, and that of recognised institutions like the Food and Drugs Authority.

Source: GNA

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