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Working with St. Hugh Catholic Church in Miami on Ghana’s Water Crisis

Ghana is a narrow, tropical, country on the southern corner of West Africa with a population of nearly 27 million people. While 80% of these people have access to fresh drinking water, only 13% percent have access to safe sanitation. Zsolt is involved with efforts that believe the 100% of Ghana’s population should be able to access fresh, safe water.

There are two rural areas that are especially prone to unhealthy water: the Volta Region (east of the large Lake Volta) and Upper East Region (bordering Burkina Faso and Togo in the north). Both districts are stricken with poverty, and located far from access to basic necessities. Without access to clean water, families are forced to pay for unreliable and less hygienic water sources. The rural areas suffer from many waterborne diseases that cause severe health problems.

How bad is the problem?

Diarrheal disease the third most commonly reported illness at Ghana’s health centers. One out of four deaths of children under five years old are caused by diarrhea or complications from the sickness.

What can be done to alleviate this crisis?

The responsibility to provide water supply and sufficient sanitation to communities to more than 110 small towns and rural areas was passed to the Ghana’s District Assemblies in 1999. Since then, relief efforts have also transitioned to private industries.

The private sector plans to improve the pressure, flow rate, and quality of drinking water, ensure the company’s fiscal sustainability, improving customer service, and most of all, provide low-income consumers potable water at affordable prices at all times.

Ghana relies on external funding to invest in the sanitation sector. For example, a 25-year contract known as Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) was awarded in 2012 to finance the establishment of a seawater desalination plant to benefit the capital city Accra. Water.org is an organization whose community initiatives are geared to educate and encourage the safe use of hygiene latrines.