Water shortages at Sekondi/Takoradi metropolis?
By E. Ablorh-Odjidja
It is disheartening to read that the Sekondi/Takoradi metropolitan area is experiencing water shortage and this has led to the rationing of water.
The above must not happen in the month of June when Ghana is most likely awash in heavy rains. Even so, with the overall amount of water resources at her disposal, she has no business rationing this stuff at anytime in the year.
Sekondi/Takoradi may be out of water because we utilize and administer our water resources in the same lackadaisical manner as we do most things: Witness the many failures within our infra-structure development processes over the years.
When it comes to supply and distribution, other countries, with scanty water resources do better and it will help to point out two; Morocco and Israel. These are nation states that, in all practical terms, sit in the middle of deserts.
Israel has a mixture of “conventional freshwater and brackish water …. About 1.1 billion cubic meters are from groundwater and springs, and 0.6 billion from surface water….(and) about 0.3 billion cubic meters of reclaimed water” In all, it has some 2 billion cubic meters” available to a population of some 6.5 million people, says Wikipidia.
Morocco “has about 22 billion cubic meter .. However, only up to 20 billion cubic meter per year can be economically captured” for usage by a population of some 32.5 million people,” source, Wikipedia.
Ghana is different in that the “total actual renewable water resources (mainly from the Volta and other smaller rivers) are estimated to be 53.2 billion m³ per year” for consumption by a population of some 24.5 million people.
All told, Ghana, comparatively only four times the population size of Israel, has over 26 times the water resource available to it. Morocco on the other hand, with 1.33 times the population size of Ghana, has less than 55%n of the water resources available to Ghana.
And with the above calculation, we are not even counting the heavy tropical rains that happen in Ghana four months in a given year.
According to a World Bank report published in 2010, “The Average precipitation in depth” for Ghana, was 1187.00 mm per year. Israel had 435 mm and Morocco, 346 mm.
Precipitation is defined as any kind of water that falls from clouds as a liquid or a solid.” A stranger has only to visit Ghana during one of these rainy seasons to see the amount of water that falls during this period. A greater portion of this settles as runoffs, flooding towns and villages to result in the loss of human lives and other tragedies.
All this water from the skies, enough in volume to fulfill the desires of Israel and Morocco with enough left over, goes to waste yearly.
The world ranks the worth of a country water resource according to size of “total water resources; how available those resources are to the population; how developed the country’s water infrastructure and delivery systems are; how efficiently or wastefully a country uses its water; and how well a country manages any environmental impact to its water,” according to an International Trade internet publication finding.
Israel and Morocco face yearly water problems on levels that are mostly unknown in Ghana: extreme droughts, increases in regional conflicts that put stress on their water supply systems and the uncertainty as to how long the water resource they have may last has its own set of anxieties.
A large number of countries, Australia, South Africa, Spain, India, Cuba, Hong Kong, are ranked as “having a “high” level of water stress .. which means having water demand above 40% of the maximum renewable resource …” according to an article “Water scarcity in Africa and the Middle East” published in the UK Guardian.
Thanks to nature, Ghana has only genuinely to worry mostly about floods during rainy seasons!
What is it about Ghana that in spite of our immense water resources we have to suffer these perennial shortages?
To maintain a safe depth at the Akosombo lake, there is this habitual spilling of water whenever the dam’s depth creeps closer to the maximum height of 278 ft; a waste magnificently accomplished to the accompaniment of deaths and other tragedies yearly.
Where do all this spilled water from the lake, plus the surplus rain water go?
To hear from the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), there have been efforts to correct the problem, not necessary in the area of arresting the spill from the dam nor harvesting the waste from the heavy rainfalls.
There was a “Five-Year Rehabilitation and Development Plan” that resulted in the Water Sector Restructuring Project (WSRP) and $140 million foreign donors support for the project, starting during the Rawlings era.
More work was done at the cost of some tens of millions of dollars to complete the “East – West interconnections” in 2008 under the Kufuor regime. Places like Cape Coast and Tamale had substantial improvement in water supply as a result of these GWCS projects.
There is no denying that these projects took place and that they helped. But in 2012 we still have water problems in places West like Sekondi/Takoradi, a very major metropolitan area. You would have to wonder if we executed the right projects to assure constant water supply and safety at all times in all places.
And from a layman point of view, you could also not help but ask what engineering feat would be needed to harvest rainwater, recapture spilled water from the dam, and to reconnect and distribute this immense water resource from the East to dry places in the West?
Surely, there are water engineers in Ghana outside government channels who have the right answer and can help. This “dog in the manger” attitude that prevents us from seeking expert help from our own kind abroad must stop. This is the craze that hurts and prevents us from effective use of our resources.
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