Regional w/shop on water management underway in Accra

Mrs Cecilia Depaah (third from left) interacting with some participants at the workshop

Mrs Cecilia Depaah (third from left) interacting with some participants at the workshop

A three-day regional workshop to build synergies on the effective management of water quality across the African continent opened in Accra yesterday.

The meeting, organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) gathered representatives from about 40 African countries to advance strategies at achieving goal six of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which seeks to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

It was on the theme; “Effective management of water quality and emerging pollutants in water and wastewater in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Opening the conference, the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Cecelia Abena Dapaah, observed the critical role water resources and wetlands played in boosting the regional economy yet “they are one of the most threatened ecosystems.”

She cited unlawful activities such as illegal or unregulated mining in water bodies, indiscriminate dumping of waste, open defecation and the use of agro-chemicals by famers in the water bodies, which tend to decline water quality and increase uncertainty of water availability.

Highlighting government’s interventions at improving water quality in the country, the minister indicated that steps were being taken to increase monitoring and enforcement of laws to deal with issues that threaten the survival of water bodies.

“The development of guidelines for managing drinking water quality, which focuses on the management of risk to water pollution or contamination along the supply chain, and the campaign against open defecation and indiscriminate dumping of refuse are other efforts by government to address the challenge,” she stated.

Mrs Dapaah pointed out that it was high time attention was turned to the treatment of waste water to supplement the growing water deficiency on the sub-region, saying that, “various scientific researches show that waste water is a valuable resource which when managed and treated properly can be re-used.”

Additionally, she noted that, “treating waste water before discharging it also prevents the introduction of pollutants in the environment,” and called on governments for dedication of resources towards research, and the necessary infrastructure to improve the management of water resources including waste water while building efforts “towards knowledge dissemination and sharing of best practices and solutions.”

Mr Yao Ydo, Regional Director of the UNESCO Regional Office, attributed the inability of African states to make significant inroads at improving water quality and availability to lack of political will, low capacity building and lack of awareness on linkages between water quality and health, gender quality and food security.

To him, “tackling water quality issues means solving poverty, promoting good health and advancing national development.”

The Acting Director of Water Research Institute of Ghana and the West African Representative at the Regional Centre for Integrated River Basin Management (RC-IRBM) Dr Kankam Yeboah, shared in concerns raised by the minister on unlawful activities that threaten water quality on the continent.

He lauded UNESCO for the initiating talks on the issue to fight against such threatening factors to secure the continent’s future.

On her part, Mrs Ama Serwaa Nerquaye Tetteh, Secretary-General of the Ghana National Commission for UNESCO, called for collaboration “between experts in the natural and social sciences” to have a holistic approach in addressing water pollution.

By Abigail Annoh and Evangel Kelvin Ainoo

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