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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

The Source of Our Water: Ghana

Water in Africa

Africa, Ghana

by Molly Campbell, Amisano, Ghana

The rainy season here in the Central Region of Ghana is never the same from year to year. One year there may be an overabundance and the next year a drought. This crazy weather pattern makes it difficult for farmers, market ladies, and families. The worry of water is always on their minds.

There is a seminary about a quarter of a mile from the center of the village, which fortunately has a borehole that villagers are allowed to use. The water from this borehole is very clean and can be drunk without treatment. The village also has three wells where clean water can be drawn; however during the dry season the chances of these drying out are good. The river is near and is still the main source of water for bathing and washing, while the wells and borehole are used for cooking and drinking.

The village also has piped water; however, there is a charge to use it, so only a small number use the piped water. This is my main source of water. The water comes from Cape Coast, about 12 to 14 miles from Amisano; therefore it is not always reliable. Pipes break frequently and during the dry season, the water is turned off weekly to help conserve it. I have a barrel I keep full, but during water shortages, I obtain water from the borehole.

by Nell Todd, Mafi-Dove, Ghana

I fetch my water from one of the eight boreholes in my village. A borehole is similar to a well, except it is smaller in diameter and it is lined with a plastic pipe. At the level of the water table underground, the pipe has tiny holes or slits in it to allow the water to enter. The plastic pipe is surrounded by a sand and gravel mixture, which acts as a natural filter. A pump is attached to the plastic pipe. We draw the water by hand. Each of the eight boreholes has a distinctive taste, and most people have a preference as to which they like best. Some have a salty taste, others have a high iron level.

Fetching water is often done by women and small children. The boreholes are not only a source to get water, but social places as well. Often I'll see children playing games. There is a game similar to "rock, paper, scissors," but instead of using their hands, the girls jump up and down, moving their legs in different directions while clapping. I still haven't quite figured it out!

The water I use has some silt in it due to improper construction of the gravel filter. After it settles for some time it is clear. I put the borehole water through a filter provided by the Peace Corps to make it safe for drinking.

The other source of water is the river. Many people have stopped using it for drinking, but they still like to bathe and wash clothes with it because it lathers well! ("Sister Ana, we use too much soap if we use the borehole water.")

by Amy Wiedemann, Gbefi, Volta Region, Ghana

In my community there are three sources of water. First, there is the River Dayi and some other smaller streams and tributaries. The community also has two boreholes that are, in effect, covered hand-dug wells, with manual pumps at the top. And then there is the water from above: rainwater. In my community, the availability of water is not a problem, thanks to the tremendous amount of rainfall that we receive. Not only do people collect this rainwater at their homes with gutters that lead to storage drums, but the rain also keeps the River Dayi at a higher level and constant flow. Despite being very hard, the bore hole water is definitely the cleanest and ready for immediate consumption. The rainwater in and of itself is good, however its contact with dusty, metal roofs and dirty gutters generally leaves the first bucket collected quite dirty. The River Dayi remains the number one water source for the people of Gbefi, despite its volume of sediment and dirt. As to the reasons for its top billing, it's the most consistent and has been there the longest, whereas the boreholes are about 15 years old. Also, there are only two boreholes for a community of around 3,000 people, which leads to a great demand and long lines. There are never any lines at the river.

by Steve Tester, Odumase Krobo, Ghana

My site is supplied with treated water from the KPONG water-treatment facility. It is piped from there to a reservoir. From the reservoir it is piped to my school's water tower, where it feeds the pipes all down Adoja hill (my site). Hopefully the water comes once a week. Sometimes water is scarce and, of course, there are no boreholes on mountains.

Peace Corps Volunteer Jason Felts lives 15 minutes away from Somanya. He receives the same water that I do; however, the water pipe in Agama Kope, where he lives, is used by two other villages (Ada Kope and Adelekope), providing water to some 150 to 160 people.

Peace Corps Volunteer Vikki Sturdivant lives 30 to 40 minutes away from Somanya. She came to her site to work on water and sanitation. She used water from the Volta Lake (directly), which contains Shigella, schistosomiasis, as well as a host of other diseases, and described the flavor as "rancid" (even after filtering and boiling). She now has a borehole 150 meters deep, provided by a nongovernmental organization in December 1997. It supplies approximately a thousand people. She said it's high in iron but it's palatable

by Chris Botzman, Akome, Volta Region, Ghana

The water I drink comes from a borehole. Water from a borehole is safe to drink without having to boil it. I use a filter, provided by the Peace Corps, which removes any large particles from the water. The filter should be cleaned every week; thus, even though the water is classified as clean enough to drink, the filter helps to remove more particles.

Some of the local people get their water from a stream. People also use the stream to wash clothes and their cars. The local people have built up immunities to certain substances in the water that might cause an American to be sick.

I store water in a 30-gallon container in my house. The children are more than happy to bring the water to my house. I must keep an eye on the small children so they do not contaminate my large container of water. One day a small girl was going to reach into my water container with soap on her hands.

by Michael Nelson, Gbani, Northern Region, Ghana

About once every two weeks I tell my friend Tony that my water is finished. Tony is a British guy who has lived in the neighboring village for 26 years, working as a linguist and raising two kids with his wife (who was born in New Jersey). He has a donkey cart that I borrow for transporting the water.

My water comes from the open well in his village. My friend in Gbani, Musah, usually does most of the work. (People in the village would almost rather I didn't lift a finger, such is their hospitality.) Musah draws the water from the depths of the well, depositing it into the two large barrels that the Peace Corps provides me. This is the water I use for everything, including drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing dishes. The well isn't very clean, because it is open to the air, but it isn't too bad. I have special filters for drinking water that the Peace Corps gives me.

In all these respects, I am lucky. Basically, all the others in my village gets their water from a nearby stream. During the dry season that stream is no longer there and they dig holes in its bed to get water from there. They can spend up to 24 hours a day trying to get the water they need. A well should be finished (with a sealed pump to keep the water clean) very soon. This well will hopefully provide water throughout the dry season as well as the wet season.

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