To mark the World Water Day 2018, the Water Satellite Network, a Ghanaian youth-led water & sanitation advocacy group, took the initiative of having a panel discussion around the theme for the Day, ‘Nature for Water’. The ‘Water Satellite Series’ also marks the beginning of a quarterly roundtable discussion with young professionals on water and sanitation issues in Ghana. This discussion is relevant to the conservation and protection of the water resources in Ghana, especially at a time where the country’s water resources have come under stress due to human activities, such as deforestation, small-scale mining, farming, building in water ways, etc.
During the discussion, the following issues were highlighted:
The adoption of nature-based solutions, such as afforestation, conservation of wetlands, etc. has many positive impacts on water resources and even goes a long way to promote the health of people in the country. For instance, the planting of trees along water bodies does not only protect the water from drying up but also serves as a system for carbon sequestration that limits the effects of global warming and also reduced the impacts of climate change.
The panellists also expressed their concern about the fact that citizens do not really care about the influences of their activities on water resources. Ghana has five major river basins and sadly, as of 2017, four out of the five basins had been heavily polluted due to mining of the river bed for precious minerals. In recent times, the country’s sole urban water provider, Ghana Water Company Limited, had to shut down some treatment plants due to high cost of production as a result of the deteriorated nature of raw water abstracted. Panellists were of the view that sensitization of people on the importance of water bodies and the link between economic and health challenges relating to destruction of water bodies need to be promoted. In addition to the sensitization process, the laws governing the environmental protection need to be enforced and the national water policy formulated in 2007 needs to be followed and implemented in a holistic manner.
Panellists also stressed that people need to try as much as possible to limit the quantity of waste that they release into the environment and that improper waste disposal needs to be discouraged. Instead of drinking water from a sachet, they advised everyone to get a reusable water bottle in order to limit the plastic that ends up polluting water bodies. Some panellists shared their experiences about how reusing water from their kitchen reduced the volume of wastewater released into the environment, while helping keep their backyard gardens healthy. They also called on all Ghanaians to adopt water saving practices in their daily lives to ensure that the country continues to enjoy a long-lasting benefits of water resources.
Nature-based solutions is the way to go, if Ghana and any other country seeks to have sustainable water resources. In fact, nature-based solutions cannot be adopted successfully without partnerships between organizations and individuals in the country. In reality implementing nature-based solutions cut across several sectors and it is only the effective coordination between these sectors that can assure Ghana’s ability to harness the returns that come with the adoption of this approach. I therefore call on all Young water professionals from Ghana to join hands with the Water Satellite Network in sensitizing the Ghanaian community on the importance and need to protect our water resources and practice water saving methods to improve water security in Ghana.