Ghana Water Crisis Overview

LAST UPDATED: Feb 24, 2017

The need for clean water is great in Ghana, as the lack of reliable sources of clean water and basic sanitation has had a deleterious impact on public health.  It’s estimated that 70% of all diseases found in the country are the result of poor sanitation and unsafe drinking water.  As such, providing the populace with basic sanitary needs and reliable access to clean water would have a profound impact on the country.  Unfortunately, the challenges that Ghana’s people face are significant.

It is estimated that a fifth of the county, six million people, are dependent on surface water for their day-to-day needs.  Because surface water is often exposed to fecal matter and a variety of illnesses, this directly contributes to the country’s health issues.  What’s more, two-thirds of the population does not have access to necessary sanitation, or even to toilets.

It is worth mentioning that access to clean water is not uniform across the country.  While 88% of Ghana’s urban population has at least basic access to drinking water, the rural areas of the country are in far greater need, with a full third of the rural population lacking basic access to water.  This situation is particularly dire in the northern regions of the country.  Here, 10% of all children under the age of five become fatalities of water related illness.  Additionally, less than 10% of Ghana’s rural population has access to even the most basic of sanitary facilities.

Much of this problem has to do with basic infrastructure.  Approximately a third of Ghana’s supply systems have been listed as non-functional, while many others are not performing according to their specifications.  In addition, communities are often forced to compete with other entities for access to water.  Most notably, the agricultural and industrial sectors have demonstrated an intense thirst for water, making access for individuals and families all the more difficult.

In addition to health concerns, the water situation spills over and brings difficulties into other areas of Ghanaian society.  Because schools often lack private sanitation facilities, parents often forbid their daughters from attending classes, instead instructing them to spend the majority of each day fetching water.  Basic and private sanitation in schools would give young children, and young girls especially, a much better chance to climb out of poverty.

Alleviating this situation is crucial to the future of Ghana’s health, but the ability of individual citizens to change their own circumstances is limited.  While it is possible for a single family to connect their household to a pipe system with fresh water, doing so requires a significant upfront cost that most simply cannot afford.  This forces many to purchase water from vendors, who often charge as much as ten times more per liter than what piped water would cost after installation.  This creates a vicious cycle that keeps many families trapped in a situation where they are paying more per liter for less sanitary water.

Ghana’s water situation represents a daunting challenge, but it is one that can be overcome.  Water for the Global Community is working hard to provide Ghana’s people with the fresh, clean water they need to survive.

Sources for water

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  1. Tube wells or boreholes –  a hole that has been drilled deep down into the earth to reach underground reserves of water.  The water is pumped to the surface via a tube, and special care is made to ensure that it is not contaminated by surface pollutants.
  2. Protected dug well – a well that has been specially protected from runoff water.  This is accomplished through a type of casing or lining that is located above ground level.
  3. Rainwater collection – a reserve of water that has been accumulated from above ground sources and stored away for later use.
  4. Water tank truck – a heavy-duty vehicle that transports large reserves of water from one community to another, which is then sold to residents.
  5. In Northern Ghana, it is common for people to have to continually adjust their strategies in their daily quest for water. Depending on their precise location, it is often necessary for people in Northern Ghana to acquire water from a variety of sources.
  6. Unprotected dug wells or springs – an underground source of water that has not been properly protected from contamination by surface pollutants.
  7. Cart with small tank/drum – a rudimentary means of transporting water to communities in need.  It typically involves the use of a donkey, a cart, or a motoking.
  8. Surface water sources – derived from such locations as dams, ponds, lakes, and rivers, etc.  All such sources are at significant risk of contamination from toxins and/or bacteria, and individuals who drink from them are at risk of contracting serious or even deadly diseases.

Facts and Figures

  • Up to 70% of all diseases contracted by people in Ghana can be attributed to the lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation facilities.
  • Every day in Ghana, an average of 1,000 children under the age of five die due to health complications resulting from diarrhea.  This is a direct result of contaminated drinking sources and improper sanitation in the country.  
  • In fact, diarrhea is responsible for a quarter of all deaths of Ghanaian children under the age of five, and it is the third most widely reported illness at the country’s medical centers.  Again, unclean water and unsanitary sanitation facilities directly contribute to this crisis.  
  • As much as half of Ghana’s rural population are forced to depend on unsafe drinking water sold by local vendors.

How Are We Helping

Water For The Global Community is dedicated to helping the people in Northern Ghana.  We currently have 1 unit operating in North eastern Ghana with another 3 units ordered.

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