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Minister dilates on water situation nationwide

Minister dilates on water situation nationwide Ghana - Mr. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, has said that the Water Resources Commission is setting up a Tano Basin Board in Brong Ahafo as the key coordinating body to ensure the proper management of water resources in the Region.
He said the Board through the Ankobra Basin office would be engaged in resolving emerging conflicts between some mining and industrial companies and the local communities, especially on diversion and pollution activities.
Mr Bagbin was addressing a water forum held in Sunyani last Monday to assess the water situation in the Region.
The Minister also indicated that the Water Resources Commission under the Ministry and other collaborative

institutions have been implementing a number of measures and actions aimed at addressing the water challenges in the Brong Ahafo Region.
"An Integrated Water Resources Management Plan is being developed for the Tano Basin, which sets out to prioritize a list of proposed measures and initiatives", he stated.
He said the initiatives included promoting the culture of enforcement of rules and regulations through liaison and cooperation with relevant agencies and traditional authorities, as well as creating public awareness and education.
Mr. Bagbin expressed worry about improper management of existing water systems and urged municipal and district assemblies to exercise their due oversight control to ensure that the facilities were operational at all times, or with minimal downtime.
On the national water situation, the sector minister said Ghana had signed up to achieving the targets set under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which cuts across all sectors of its development agenda.
For the MDG target in the water sector, Mr. Bagbin said it was expected that Ghana would have provided access to 78 per cent of the population with improved water by the year 2015.
By the end of 2010, more than 62 per cent of Ghana's population had access to improved drinking water supply, he added.        
Mr. Bagbin said statistics on water availability in the country from measurements taken on all river systems, namely Black Volta, White Volta, Oti, Tano, Pra, Ochi, Ayensu, Densu, Ankobra and others had it that the average annual volume of water available to Ghana was about 40 billion cubic meters (about 9 billion gallons) per day.
This, he added, was the amount that was replenished to the river systems annually through rainfall.
Mr. Bagbin said from 1960 to 2010, the amount of raw water available to Ghanaians had reduced by a factor of three, which was mainly due to increase in population.
"Ghana's population has grown from 6.5 million in 1960 to the provisional 24.223 million now. By the annual population growth rate, this reduction factor would double to six by the year 2050, that is, the water available to us 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 pertained in 1960 and will further shrink to a sixth by 2050. In other words, the water available to us today is only 29 per cent of what it was in 1960 and will be only 16 per cent by 2050", Mr. Bagbin added.
The sector minister noted that the situation was aggravated through the pollution of water resources by human activities like bush burning, thereby exposing the soil to extreme heat and evaporation and reducing the land to a dust bowl, cutting down of trees to burn charcoal as well as dumping of waste into water courses, among others.
Mr. Bagbin said the Ministry had for some time now been concerned with the decline in the condition of water bodies such as rivers, streams, irrigation reservoirs, lakes, lagoons and estuaries.
"In the urban centres, streams or rivers that in time past served as sources of water supply for the people and lagoons and estuaries that served as sources of livelihood for many have all been degraded and no longer adequately perform their natural functions", Mr. Bagbin stressed.
The results, he noted, was that flows in the channels were impeded during the rainy seasons resulting in catastrophic floods as recently experienced in Buipe, Daboya area, Kekali Number Four, Agona Swedru and Ashaiman in Accra, among other places.
Mr. Bagbin observed that in other areas, increased erosion resulting from increased agricultural and farming activities and other inimical practices along river basins had resulted in drastic reduction in the available water in reservoirs meant for water supply and irrigation purposes and had also affected flow conditions in river channels.
In order to restore these water bodies and river channels to their original status for them to perform their required functions properly, Mr. Bagbin said the Ministry had entered into an agreement with Dredging and Marine Company to undertake dredging activities.
"This will also remove the aquatic weeds that have invaded these water resources", he added.
The sector minister said recognizing the positive impact that harvesting of rain water could have on water use and conservation, the Ministry would soon come out with an implementation strategy for utilizing that potentially useful but invariably ignored source of good water.
"Government will show the way by incorporating rain water harvest design in public buildings such as schools, hospitals, offices and hold on dams and dug outs", Mr. Bagbin said.
The installation of rain water harvesting devices in public institutions such as schools, colleges and universities especially, would reduce dependence on the piped system, thereby reducing pressure on the expansion of such systems, Mr. Bagbin stated.



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