A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Access to water and sanitation facilities in Ghana is low, particularly in rural areas. Only 50 percent of the rural population in Ghana has access to water. Access to sanitation can be as low as 42 percent in urban areas and 11 percent rural areas.
The main traditional sources of water in many parts of rural Ghana are small ponds and unprotected wells, both of which are easily polluted, causing disease and ill-health.
The Oxfam Water for Survival program is working with WaterAid UK and local partner, Rural Aid to provide hand dug wells with pumps and constructing Ventilated Pit Latrines.
Water and sanitation initiatives are complemented by hygiene education activities to ensure that the health benefits for the community can be maximized.
“Now there is always plenty of water”
“I have lived here for 15 years. I moved here with my family as a little girl. I have three children, aged ten, eight and six. The water pump was put in three years ago. Our community helped the ‘water people’ (Rural Aid) build the well. The men did the digging and we women collected sand and stones, helped clear away the sand when the well was dug and helped carry the mortar for construction.We needed a well because we used to drink bad water and get sick, especially the children. We got diarrhea and stomach pains and felt very weak. The diarrhea was the most common. We used to be so weak we couldn’t do any work. Our main work here is basket weaving, but when you have diarrhea you are too weak to sit and weave.
"In three days I can make a basket that sells for 15,000 [old Ghanian] cedis (approximately $1.00). It costs me around 13,000 cedis to buy the straw and other materials so I make around 2,000 cedis profit. As it is a traditional basket weaving community anyone who moves here learns to make them within a week.
"I used to collect water from a stream over there. Animals used to drink from there too and the water was not very clear – not like the new water that is clean and safe. When I had my first baby I had to use water from the stream and the baby and I were always sick.
"Now my children no longer fall sick from water-related diseases and no longer get diarrhea. We have enough water to bath our children before they go to school, prepare food for them, wash and do our household chores.
"It used to be very time consuming to collect water at the stream as others were already there and you had to queue while they filled their pots before you could collect your own. Now we can just come to the pump and there is always plenty of water.”
Article originally published by Oxfam New Zealand.
Photos: Jon Spaull/WaterAid
Notes: Libby Clarke and Anna March/WaterAid