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Ghana Urgent steps needed to safeguard water resources

energold We also had groundwater and its quality was generally good except for some cases of localised pollution
 

The Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Mr Alban S.K Bagbin says that unless measures are taken to safeguard water sources, the volume of water available to the country will reduce drastically.

 

Currently, he said, the current average annual volume of water of 40billion cubic meters represented only 29 per cent of the volume of water recorded in 1960.

Mr Bagbin said from 1960 to 2010, the quantity of raw water available to Ghanaians had reduced by a factor of three, due to increase in population.

Mr Bagbin said this when he addressed members of the Western Regional Security Council, heads of departments, metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives in the region.

He said the country's population had grown from 6.5 million to an estimated 23 million now and explained that by the annual population rate, this reduction factor would have doubled to six by 2050, which meant that the water available to Ghanaians would have reduced by a factor of six.

"This means that today, the quantity of water available to us, per person, has reduced to about a third of what it was in 1960, and will further shrink to a sixth by 2050", he explained, adding "in order words, the water available to us today is only 29 per cent of the 1960 value, and will be only 16 per cent by 2050".

Mr Bagbin said aggravating the situation was the pollution of the water resources resulting from our own activities like timber felling, bad farming practices such as bush burning and improper use of various agro-chemicals, car washing, dumping of waste into or near water courses and illegal gold mining activities, popularly known as 'galamsey'.

He said statistics on water in the country from measurements taken on all river systems in Ghana such as the Volta, Tano, Ayensu, Densu, Ankobra and others had it that the average annual volume of water available to the country was about 40 billion cubic meters per year.

This, he said, was the amount that was replenished to the people annually through rainfall.

In addition to these surface water resources, he said, we also had groundwater and its quality was generally good except for some cases of localised pollution and areas with high levels of iron, fluoride and other minerals.

He said salinity in certain groundwater occurrences was also found, especially in some coastal aquifers, adding that "this notwithstanding, we can conclude that if properly conserved, managed and distributed, the surface and groundwater resources of the country should be adequate to meet current and future demands".

Mr Bagbin said Ghana had signed up to achieve the targets set under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which cut across all sectors of the country's development agenda.

He said for the MDG target for water and sanitation, it was expected that Ghana would have provided access to 76 per cent of the population with improved water by the year 2015 and that by the end of 2009, more than 59 per cent of the country's population had access to improved drinking water supply.

"Our minimum target is to achieve the MDG goal of 76 per cent coverage by 2015. I wish to emphasise that this is the minimum we as a government wish to achieve. Our target is to reach 85 per cent by 2015 and universal access by 2025," he said.

He noted that if Ghanaians were truly committed to improving the quality of life of the people for a 'Better Ghana', improving access to water was the one sure way to go.

Mr Bagbin said this would directly result in increased productivity by the farmers and workforce, higher enrolment and retention of girls in school, and enhancement in women's dignity and ability to lead.

He said it would also result in the reduction in morbidity and mortality rates, reduction in pre and post-natal risks and prevention of water borne diseases.

He said to achieve the above objectives, it required dedication and tenacity of purpose.

Therefore, he added that it was incumbent on every member of the team, which included not only staff and members of agencies under the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, but also non governmental organisations, water and sanitation practitioners, the development partners and, everybody, to religiously apply himself or herself to the task, since water was everybody's business.

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