The Environment and Agriculture: Ghana
Water in Africa
- Africa, Ghana
by Sasha Bennett, Bongo-Soe, Ghana
Technological advancements in the construction and installation of boreholes and hand-dug wells have improved people's lives. They are now able to take advantage of clean drinking water. Boreholes have a life span of 50 or more years. In fact, we are now trying to replace a 53-year-old borehole. As far as agriculture is concerned, farmers plant crops according to seasons. Not many farmers practice dry-season farming. People do not like to draw water from the borehole for watering crops or even flowers, as they consider it a waste of good drinking water.
There are dams which were once used for irrigation purposes, but because the dams are so old (some over 50 years) the dammed water dries up during the hot season. But during the rainy season, the dams fill up and farmers use the water from irrigation canals to water their crops. Rice is usually grown around dams.
by Molly Campbell, Amisano, Ghana
I believe Amisano has benefited from technology over the past few years. For example, having piped water available helps against health problems. As time goes on, more and more people in the community will have the means to obtain piped water. Having good quality water at the village's disposal—whether it is from the piped water, well, or borehole—will have long-range benefits for the people in this community.
by Nell Todd, Mafi-Dove, Ghana
The Akosombo Dam was built upriver of Mafi-Dove in the late 1950s. The building of this dam created the largest manmade lake in the world, Lake Volta. However, it caused the Volta River downstream to decrease both in volume and in the rate at which it flows. Over the years the ecology has changed a great deal, and what was once a rich, fertile area with an abundance of fish has turned into a weedy, marshy, coastal savanna.
Fishing has declined, though it is still a primary activity. The increase in weeds has brought bilharzia—a blood disease in which a parasite enters one's body through direct contact with infected water (by stepping in it, not drinking it).
There have been no industrial developments in the area that have caused harm to groundwater. However, a new rice farm has just been started nearby that will use chemical fertilizers. Runoff will go directly into the river.
by Amy Wiedemann, Gbefi, Volta Region, Ghana
The advent of boreholes, sealed hand-dug wells, and other such technology has definitely improved the accessibility of clean drinking water. Of course, not everyone takes advantage of the borehole, but the option is there. This option is becoming all the more attractive to many as continued environmental degradation is slowly contaminating the principal water source in my community, the River Dayi. Deforestation and slash-and-burn agricultural practices are increasing the rate of soil erosion and the amount of runoff that lead to the River Dayi. Likewise, all of the various pesticides and growth drugs are mixing in that runoff. In Ghana, there is not the infrastructure of an efficient and effective FDA and EPA that we find in the United States. Thus many powerful and hazardous chemicals that are banned in the United States are still in use here. So, on the one hand, new technology is proving beneficial to the quality of water; on the other hand, the new technology introduces new problems.
by Steve Tester, Odumase-Krobo, Ghana
For a long time, Krobo Girls School has had its water supply from the KPONG Water Treatment Facility. In fact, the pump that was purchased 70 years ago came when the school first opened. Recently the pump began to give signs that it was ready to give up the ghost. Once, in 1998, the pump stopped working. While the plumber was trying to repair it, Krobo Girls Secondary School waited. After waiting for more than two weeks and giving up bathing for the last three days, the students rebelled. They marched to the headmistress' house and demanded water to bathe. As soon as five barrels of water were hauled by truck to the school, the water came on.
My secondary project is underway. I have been approved for 5.6 million cedis (2,700 cedis equals a U.S. dollar) to purchase a new water pump. The PTA is building a bigger reservoir for the pump. Now, let's hope the electricity holds out.
Planting of crops is synchronized with the advent of the major and minor rainy seasons.
by Chris Botzman, Akome, Volta Region, Ghana
Water quality has improved in recent years. The streams are regularly inspected. The boreholes provide clean water.
by Michael Nelson, Gbani, Northern Region, Ghana
In Gbani, there haven't been many new changes that seem to have affected the quality of water. Perhaps an exception could be the larger scale deforestation that is going on in West Africa. It is still uncertain how people can alter their environments through such actions, but it is true that the forests are shrinking in many areas.