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Water in Ghana: Making a Scarcity Plentiful

By:  Journey Staff Mar 20, 2013
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Boy brushing teeth

3 year-old Ransford brushes his teeth using clean water.

It is still early in the morning, but Cornelia Nketia, a mother of four, is up and waiting in line for water. Six months ago, her only option would have been to fetch the murky, brown water from the Asukawkaw River, a 15-minute walk away. Tainted by the livestock that enters in slowly to drink and cool down from the hot and arid December air, the river was the community’s water source for all household activities, from drinking to bathing to washing dishes. 

Cornelia Nketia mit ihren Söhnen

Cornelia Nketia mit ihren Söhnen Dominic, 11 und Ransford, 3

“We knew the water wasn’t clean and made our children sick, but we had no other choice until this water center was built,” she says in the local Ewe language, looking off in the distance.

Today, Cornelia and others can pay a modest usage fee for clean, potable water, thanks to the water treatment center her community received through The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation and USAID’s Water and Development Alliance (WADA). The alliance also provided improved sanitation facilities to schools and households.

Water Made Clean

The water center, which opened in May 2012, sources water from the same river, but treats it through a multi-step filtration process, which meets World Health Organization (WHO) standards. Cornelia and other community members arrive early each morning, carrying containers of various shapes and sizes with their money in hand, ready to purchase clean water.

Asukawaw Wasserzentrum

Das Asukawaw Wasserzentrum

The Asukawkaw water center, built and operated by WaterHealth Ghana, sells water at 10 pesewas ($0.05) for 20 liters. As soon as the center opens at 6:30 a.m., community members begin to line up for this new, reliable source of water. Cornelia says that, on average, her household purchases 80 liters of water a day to use for cooking, bathing and drinking. They also keep water stored in a large, covered metal drum next to their house. 

“The difference between the river water and the water facility is that the facility’s water is clean and safe for drinking and the river water is not,” she says.

Changes in the Making

While Cornelia and others are ready to patronize the new water center, some still continue to source water from the river. Cornelia says these households know the water makes their families sick, but that it will take time to change everyone’s behavior. For Cornelia and her household, the cost of staying healthy outweighs the cost of the water. For others, it will take time to see the situation through her eyes. 

Asukawkaw is one of 16 communities in Ghana that have benefited from these water treatment centers financed by The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation and its partners including USAID and the Diageo Foundation. Through the Safe Water for Africa initiative, The Coca-Cola African Foundation is working with its partners to raise $20 million to build up to 200 of these centers in Ghana, Nigeria and Liberia.