NGOs call for collective effort to address water stress in Ghana

Five Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs), have said that, the current water stress in the country needs to be tackled by all stakeholders.

They point out that, experts predict the country would face a severe water crisis by 2025.

The NGOS, are the Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis (CEIA), WACAM, Centre for Public Interest Law( CEPIL), Gender and Environmental Monitoring Advocates (GEMA) and Humanity Focus Foundation (HFF).

In a statement to mark the World Water Day which fell on Sunday, they stated that, “in our opinion, Ghana is not reaping the full benefits of her huge water resource potential. Policy contradictions of the government, have led to the poor water resource management”. They said the decision of the government to open up forest reserves for mining meant the sanctioning of the destruction of water sources and by extension, the killing of rivers and water bodies.

The theme of this year’s celebration was “Water and sustainable development” and highlighted the link between water and all aspects of human life.

The group noted that, the government has granted a mining leases to Newmont Gold Ghana Limited Akyem Mine to undertake surface mining in the Ajenua-Bepo Forest Reserve, which is the source of such rivers as Yaayaa; Adenkyensu; Alotosu; Afosu; Aprapon and Owonta.

“We, therefore, call on the government to withdraw the permits it has granted to mining companies to mine in forest reserves, to demonstrate its commitment to the protection of our water sources.

We also believe that issues of water quality and availability are very crucial for sustainable development, as well as meeting all the Millennium Development Goals”, they stressed.

They, urged the government as well as Parliament, to, as a matter of urgency, pass into law the POLLUTER PAY PRINCIPLE and give legal backing to all the Water Quality Guideline Values used in the country, to give meaning to the polluter pay principle and deter people from polluting water bodies and reduce the cost of treating polluted water for the people.

The NGOs reiterated the need for the government, civil society, the media, academia/research institutions and development partners, to commit themselves to water quality and availability in the country, especially in the poor rural communities, beyond 2015.

They called on the government, which had the primary responsibility of providing quality water to its citizens, to define standard procedures for cooperation and give meaning to it. “We are making this demand because as a nation, we have seen situations where regulatory agencies, charged with the responsibility of enforcing the laws on water quality have in the guise of cooperation, not applied the law when dealing with entities whose activities have had serious negative impact on water sources in Ghana”, they stated.

The group said 250 out of the 400 South West Rivers are polluted with heavy metals.

“We further wish to remind the government of its commitment to the resolution it signed at the 65th UN General Assembly in New York on 29th July 2010, which adopted access to clean drinking water as a fundamental human right and call on the Government to initiate the processes to ratify it.

We appeal to the Constitutional Review Committee to give a constitutional backing to this UN Resolution by incorporating it as an ENTRENCHED CLAUSE in Chapter Five of the 1992 Fourth Republican Constitution”, the group stated.

From Clement Adzei Boye, Takoradi

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