Water bodies within the Ankobra Basin of the Western Region of Ghana are highly contaminated by faecal matter due to open defecation and other human activities.
This was revealed when a team of study personnel from Conservation Foundation (CF), a Non-governmental Organisation (NGO) and Water Resources Commission (WRC) – Ankobra Basin Office assessed the quality of water in 28 communities within the basin.
The study was based on, water sampled from rivers, streams bore holes and hand dug wells. The research took place in 14 days and the samples were tested in-situ to ascertain their wholesomeness and quality in terms of physical and biological variables.
The study forms part of the ongoing Watershed Project which seeks to Integrate Water Resources Management (IWRM) and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
The test gave some insight into the contamination nature of the water resources, eco-systems from which diseases can be contracted.
It is acknowledged from this study that diseases can be contracted through the contamination and is therefore important from public health point of view.
“About 39 water samples were collected from the water bodies in the Ankobra Basin and tested in-situ for Escherichia coli (E. coli), Nitrate/Nitrite, Alkalinity, Hardness, pH and Electrical Conductivity using Akvo Caddisfly
The communities captured under the study include Dadwen, Kofikrom, Domeabra, Tarkwa Banso, New Techiman, Kyekyewere, Essaman Kakraba, Simpa, Bonsa, Ankwawso, Bepo and Mile 10½. The rest are, Efuanta, Kutukrom, Tumentu, Dwira Nsuaem, Awudua, Prestea, Esuoso, Atieku, Anwia, Asasetre, Wassa Akropong, Bawdie, Hiawa, Ampansie, Bamiankor, Domenase and Bonsawire.
The inhabitants of these communities use these water bodies that were tested and is said to contain high rates of faecal matter, for various purposes, such as cooking, washing, bathing and swimming.
Even though the team did not see any faecal matter or human excreta in and around the banks where samples were taken, there were lots of refuse dumps driving along the stretch of these water bodies. That is an indication that open defecation may be going on up stream thus the faecal matter present in the water as indicated by the outcome of the study (water quality testing) though invincible.
Indiscriminate defecation by the population around the areas the test was conducted provides more than enough evidence that the test scientifically was on point.
These contaminated waters are also used to irrigate and moisten vegetables like cabbage, tomato, cucumber, carrot, lettuce, onion, etc in the market, which are often consumed raw as salads and other purposes.
“Therefore, there is a high risk of transmitting pathogenic bacteria which can cause diarrhea. Water with 10⅝ cfu/100ml of coliforms looks clean to the eyes, and people may not be aware of the high contamination levels or the health implications.
Most households, restaurants and Chop Bars located at these communities use these highly contaminated waters to prepare food which may also increase food bourne transmission of diarrhea infections.
Surface water resources are principally sourced from three mainstream river systems in Ghana, notably, the Coastal River, followed by South-Western as the intermediate, and Volta system constituting the largest.
Also, fresh water resources usage can be put into two main categories namely ex situ (Withdrawal use) and in situ or instream use, and could be referred to as the consumptive and non-consumptive use, respectively. With the exception of localized pollution engineered by nuisance perpetrated by indigenes, the quality of water in Ghana both surface and groundwater, are generally better.
Microbial pollution of surface water can be detected by the changes in abundance of bacterial population.
The presence of bacteria in surface water not only indicates the faecal contamination of water but also the potential human health risks”
To this end, the test outlined high microbial contamination of water as almost all surface waters contain either E. coli, faecal Coliforms or total Coliforms or all.
However, these contaminations were in surface water than groundwater.
The team planned to investigate water bodies in 42 communities within the Ankobra Basin, but due to floods and some broken bridges, they were unable to access about 14 communities.
Some of the selected communities also had mechanized boreholes so they were left out in this study.
The Executive Director of Conservation Foundation (CF), a Non-Governmental Organization, Mr. Osei Yaw Owusu-Sekyere who led the team, after the study observed that every water body within the areas the study was conducted has a refuse dump located closer to the water bodies whilst the banks of the rivers and the streams have been turned to gutters, refuse dumps and toilet places where people defecate openly into the water bodies.
According to Mr. Owusu-Sekyere, the team will compile all the results and meet the community members including the opinion leaders in each community and inform them about the outcome of the study and its implications to their health.
He therefore called on the government agencies, MMDA’s and the citizenry to collaborate to ensure open defecation is ended in the country.
He appealed to the government to provide the communities boreholes since some of the project communities do not have any potable drinking water source apart from dugouts and the rivers or streams.
The Assistant Ankobra Basin Officer of the Water Resources Commission (WRC), Francis Acquah-Swanzy, on his part called on
All stakeholders responsible for the implementation of the IWRM plan and WASH within the Ankobra Basin are to intensify education to possibly reverse the alarming outcome as identified by the study.
Ghana | Atonkaonline.com | Matthew O. A. Dadzie.