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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Daily Usage: Ghana

Water in Africa

Africa, Ghana

by Sasha Bennett, Bongo-Soe, Ghana

I am probably one of the only WATSAN (Water/Sanitation/Health Education) Peace Corps Volunteers in Ghana with running water. I have a huge water tank, which is on top of a concrete mini-water tower and is connected to my faucet and showerhead by plastic pipes. I use water for just about everything: washing clothes, cooking, bathing, and feeding my animals (goat, dog, and baby monkey). I even use a bucketful of water to flush my toilet.

The women and children in our community fetch water throughout the day. They carry the large metal pans of water on their heads.

Until I came here, I did not realize the many uses of water. In the United States we take water for granted. We don't realize that there are still countries in the world where people suffer from the lack of water or of clean water.

by Molly Campbell, Amisano, Ghana

Fortunately, here in Amisano, we have many sources of water. During the dry season, however, it's sometimes hard to come by. Even though I have piped water, I always boil and filter it before using it. The pipes in Ghana are always breaking and the water isn't always clean. I also use the piped water for washing clothes and for bathing.

In my house I have a flush toilet, and I have a sink for washing dishes. The biggest difference from the United States and the biggest challenge is doing my laundry by hand. I don't use nearly as much water as I did in the U.S. I've come to realize how precious water really is.

by Nell Todd, Mafi-Dove, Ghana

Instead of taking a shower, I take a bucket bath. Instead of turning on the faucet, I turn my water filter tap for drinking water. Instead of putting my clothes in the washer, I put them in a plastic bucket and scrub by hand (oh, my knuckles!). Instead of putting my dishes in the dishwater, I put them in another bucket to wash. Instead of having an electric pump that pumps water from our well to the sink, I pump water by hand, carry it to a large blue container, and fetch it when I need it. Instead of having options for what I can drink when I'm thirsty, I always drink water. Water doesn't go down a drain here; when wastewater fills up in a bucket, I throw it into the bushes.

by Amy Wiedemann, Gbefi, Volta Region, Ghana

My use of water here in Ghana differs tremendously from the way I used and thought about water in the United States. With no running water, every drop counts for me because every drop includes the labor of fetching or collecting, hauling, and storing. I use water for the same things as I did at home, but I use a lot less. Instead of a long hot shower, I use less than one full bucket for bathing. Instead of rinsing food under a faucet, I rinse it in water in a small basin, in which I'll also wash my hands, and add soap and wash my dishes. I store water in a large drum, but I store my drinking water in a separate container to minimize contamination. In addition to using water for bathing and cooking, I use it for washing my clothes and sometimes in cleaning.

The households around me use water in much the same way, but also in a way that relates to their crops. After they've peeled their cassava, they must scrub it well before sending it to the mill. In order to make porridge, they soak the maize overnight before milling it and then boiling it. In times of low rainfall, they haul water from the river to their fields to prevent crops from dying.

by Steve Tester, Odumase-Krobo, Ghana

I get up around 5:30 a.m. and take my daily bucket bath. I use a whole three-gallon bucket because I am 6' 2". I put the water in the kettle for coffee and then after it's down the hatch I'm off to school. By the time my students arrive they have had their early morning bath and are ready to learn.

Our science resource center is up and running and hopefully the reserve tank on top of it is full of water for any labs that may occur.

Our kitchen staff is busy with huge cauldrons filled with food. The two enormous one-thousand-gallon reservoir tanks are essential to feed the 490 girls on campus.

After school closes, lines of students form at the student reservoir tanks so they can fill their buckets for the evening bucket bath, and then later on, for the morning bucket bath.

I come home to another bucket bath to wash the grime I have accumulated from the dust in the air and the sweat that has poured from my body. Then I'm back asleep around 8:30 or 9 p.m. I read that people in the United States average a hundred gallons of water a day! I average around seven.

by Chris Botzman, Akome, Volta Region, Ghana

I have water stored in a 30-gallon container in my house. I dip water out of the large container to fill all of my needs for water. I have a three-quart filter on my table for drinking water. I need to keep this filled at all times. I have no running water so I cannot just go to a faucet and turn it on.

When I was in the United States I tried to conserve water by taking short showers. In Ghana, I take my bath from one bucket of water (one and a half gallons). Using less water saves it for other people and it also means having to carry less water to my house.

I work at a senior secondary school, which is equal to grades 10 to 12 in the United States. The students fill a bucket in the staff room each day, so the teachers can wash the chalk from their hands. There is a second bucket in which people dip their cups to get a drink of water.

by Michael Nelson, Gbani, Northern Region, Ghana

My use of water in Gbani basically mirrors the community's. I began adopting their habits while living in the chief's compound during my first three months here. In the morning we all take baths. A bath for us, though, consists of filling a bucket with about three or four gallons of water. We scoop that water out with a cup to get our bodies wet. Then we lather up with soap. Finally, we finish with the rinse cycle.

Drinking and cooking can also use a lot of water. In the hot season, I can easily drink more than three liters a day by myself. And then there is also washing dishes. Interestingly enough, in a water-poor area like this, it is the practice to take two baths a day, the second being in the evening.

Basically we use water like everyone else in the United States. The primary differences are that the quality of the water is poor and the quantity of water is smaller.

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