Friday, March 28, 2008

Water , water everywhere but not a drop to drink

An estimated 84,000 Ghanaians dying each year from diseases related to poor water quality . The Ghana Water Company says it is no longer able to supply even half of the 150 million gallons of water that people in the capital , Accra, require each day.

Accra could have an abundant water supply from the nearby Volta Lake, the world's largest manmade body of fresh water. But many of the pipes delivering the water to the city are cracked and broken and the government has done little to repair them. As a result many residents resort to polluted rivers and ponds, or hand-dug wells where the water is often unclean.

The government acknowledges the problem. “It’s about aging infrastructure, lack of investment and waste,” the minister for water resources, Boniface Abubakar Saddique told IRIN . To raise more capital for infrastructure the ministry restructured the way it managed water in 2006, handing control over to a private company, Aqua Vitens Rand Limited. Two years later, however, fewer people in Accra can access water than when the system was government-run .

A representative of the non-governmental organisation ISODEC (Integrated Social Development Centre) said , “Its sad politicians constantly spew rhetoric on providing potable water to citizens but never offer concrete alternatives.”

The government intends to purchase two executive jets at a cost of US$105 million . At least , the workers of Ghana now know the President's priority.

In Burkina Faso 5.7 million Burkinabes have no access to clean water and 12.6 million lack adequate sanitation facilities. In some parts of the country only 2 percent of the population has access to clean toilets .

The government said it will use the African Development Bank, World Bank and bilateral donor funds to install 617,000 new toilets around the country, build 520 new pipe networks in rural areas, fit water taps in over 100,000 homes and install thousands of water-pumps.
"Finally the international community is realising that any development initiatives introduced in Burkina Faso must include investments in water, otherwise the Millennium Development Goals will be doomed to failure." the non-governmental organization WaterAid told IRIN.

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