Archive for ‘Ghana’

October 30, 2013

Access to clean drinking water a human right concern

By Gertrude Ankah Nyavi, Banjul- Gambia

Girl looking for water in Africa

Water is a human rights issue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

African governments have been urged to see accessibility to clean drinking water as a human rights issue other than a basic need and essential to the realisation of all human rights.

Making the call, the NGO Forum on Human Rights in Africa also asked Africa’s Commission on Human Rights to urge AU states to cooperate in the management of their trans-boundary water resources, as expressed in international customary law, in accordance with their human rights obligations.

Recallingthe Resolution of the African Commission requiring a human rights-based approach to natural resources, including water resources, the group said the Commission had been charged to ensure African states protected the quality of international water resources as sources of drinking water.

At a briefing with a member of the commission in-charge of Economic, Social and Cultural Right, Mrs Sahli Fadel Maya on a resolution to be presented at the 54rd African Charter on Human and People’s Rights in the Republic of Gambia on Wednesday October 23, the group also called on governments to first secure water allocation to satisfy vital human needs.

This, they said included drinking water as well as water for subsistence farming and water for securing the livelihood of dependent riparian populations, in determining an equitable and reasonable use of an international watercourse or aquifer.

According to the group, Africa has 63 trans-boundary river basins, representing 93% freshwater of the continent, which indicates every African country has a trans-boundary watercourse.

They emphasised that freshwater is a key factor in sustainable development and is essential for the protection of basic human rights, e.g. health, food, and energy.

The NGOs observed that climate change, water overuse and pollution jeopardised the human rights of present and future generations. Using Chad as an example, they said the surface area of Lake Chad had decreased from 25’000km2 to 1’500km2 between 1960 and 2000.

They added that the risk of water tensions had massive impact on human rights; hence there was urgent need for a legal framework for cooperation to secure human rights.

The NGOs therefore called for the establishment of multi-stakeholder management mechanisms, while ensuring that communities and individuals accessed information, and participated in the human rights impact assessment and decision-making concerning the management of international surface and groundwater resources.

They also urged the Commission to ensure that communities and individuals were entitled within their respective jurisdiction to judicial, administrative or other remedies, when the right to water and sanitation of an individual of a riparian state was threatened or violated by the activity of another state sharing the same aquifer.

The NGOs including WaterAid, Waterlex and Green Cross, raised the need to respect the principle of non-discrimination within and among neighbouring populations, and take into account the needs of vulnerable and most marginalised people, including women and children as well as displaced people, while implementing obligations.

Meanwhile, all is set for the official opening of the 54rd African Charter on Human and People’s Right to be held at Banjul in the Republic of Gambia. During the session, selected members of African states are expected to submit their human right performance report to the commission. The commissioners will then make follow up enquiries as to why some obligations were not been met by those countries.

Also, NGOs who have observatory status ACHP will be given fifteen minutes to present statement issues on human right in their various countries.

The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (also known as the Banjul Charter) is an international human rights instrument that is intended to promote and protect human rights and basic freedoms in the African continent.

Oversight and interpretation of the Charter is the task of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which was set up in 1987 and is now headquartered in Banjul, Gambia. A protocol to the Charter was subsequently adopted in 1998 whereby an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights was to be created. The protocol came into effect on 25 January 2005.

May 7, 2012

Water situation to get worse as population increases

The 2012 United Nations report on freshwater resources, the World Water Development Report, says about four billion people lack access to safe water.

It said the figure could get worse as the global population is likely to reach 9.1 billion in 2050 and 68 per cent of these 9 billion people would live in cities.

The report said in many countries, water availability for agriculture is already limited and it is set to worsen as agriculture needs to increase production to cater for 9 billion people.

It said these issues amongst others would substantially increase water and energy consumption, leading to increased competition for water resources.

The report further noted that as well as economic growth, the diets of many people are shifting from predominantly starch-based ones to meat and dairy and these require more water to produce.

It said the Asia-Pacific region is home to 60 percent of the world’s population but it has only 36 percent of its water resources. It further stated that the European and North American populations consume a considerable amount of virtual water embedded in imported food and other products.

It stated that each person in North America and Europe consumes at least 3000 litres per day of virtual water in imported food, compared to 1400 litres per day in Asia and 1100 litres per day in Africa.

The report also said various estimates suggests that approximately 3.5 earth-sized planets would be needed to sustain a global population to achieve the current lifestyle of the average European or North American.

It said nearly all Arab countries suffer from water scarcity with water consumption rates exceeding total renewable water supplies.

The report stated that India is growing maize, sugar cane, lentils and rice in countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Senegal and Mozambique to feed its domestic market, while Europeans are seeking 3.9 million hectares of African land to meet their 10 per cent biofuel target by 2015.

It said the amount of water required for biofuel plantations could be particularly devastating to regions such as West Africa, where water is already scarce, given that one litre of ethanol from sugarcane requires 18.4 litres of water and 1.52 square metres of land.

Source: Ghana, e-tv

May 7, 2012

POISON!… Solar Mining pollutes rivers with mercury

STORY: KORYEKPOR AWLESU FREEMAN, BACK FROM OSINO, Eastern region of Ghana.

Information reaching Today newspaper indicates that activities of Solar Mining Company, a local gold mining company operating within the Fanteakwa District of the Eastern Region have culminated in the pollution of the Anoma and Akusu rivers within the township.
This paper gathered that the usage of mercury by Solar Mining Company for its mining operations along the streams leading to the above rivers has resulted in the blockage to the livelihood of communities that depend on the said rivers.
The affected communities, about six in number, are therefore desperately appealing to government and stakeholders in the mining industry to quickly relocate them to forestall any eventuality.
According to the residents in these communities, namely Saaman, Juaso, Bunso, Nsutam, Nkawkwa and others dotted along the affected areas, they can no longer bear the numerous challenges they face as a result of the mining activities.
Solar Mining in recent times has been whirled in a lot of controversies after it used mercury and other dangerous chemicals to pollute Anoma and Akusu rivers, the two main sources of drinking water in the communities, which resulted in the death of the controversial “six fish.”
Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (Wacam), a mining advocacy non-governmental organization, recently issued a press statement, calling on the central government to take a second look at the mining activities of Solar Mining but to no avail.
According to Wacam, the people in the afore-mentioned communities are farmers who usually engage in the production of food crops such as maize, cocoyam, cassava and cocoa, but over the years the mining company has destroyed their natural resources and vast arable land making standard of living of the people in the area nothing to write home about.
But Solar Mining had insisted that it never used mercury or dangerous chemical in its mining operation.

In the midst of these controversies, some inhabitants together with the Assemblyman of the area, Hon. Gyeatuo Kyenkyenku, have pointed accusing fingers at the Chief of Saaman, Barima Okuampa Agyemang, for being in supreme support of Solar Mining to pollute their rivers and destroy natural resources and vast arable lands.
But the Chief of Saaman, Barima Okuampa Agyemang, when contacted, confirmed the unacceptable mining activities of Solar Mining but flatly denied the allegation of his support to the company to pollute their rivers and destroyed natural resources and vast arable lands.
Nana Barima Okuampa Agyemang, 74, said though he did not stay in the area, at no time did he support unacceptable activities that could inflict poverty on his people.
But, a fact-finding mission embarked on by Today to the affected communities, tells a sordid story of a lot more affected fishes being killed and rivers being polluted as a result of the dangerous chemicals the company used in its operation.
Contrary to the assertions that the mining company does not use mercury in its operation, this paper can disclose signs of mercury or other suspected dangerous chemicals scattered along the incident areas where sources of drinking water were located.
And although Solar Mining has provided a poly tank to serve the water needs of the affected communities, a lot of questions could be raised about its safety.
The poly tank had been placed unguarded in a middle of a thick bush, about some 300 metres from the nearest communities.
Residents told Today that when the pollution of their rivers occurred, they suggested to the mining companies to provide each community a poly tank to guarantee the safety of their drinking water, but rather fell on deaf ears.
In an exclusive interview with the Assemblyman of the area, Hon. Gyeatuo Kyenkyenku, confirmed that since the operations of Solar Mining in Saaman and its adjacent communities use mercury or other dangerous chemicals for its operations which pollute Anoma and Akusu rivers.
“We the people in Saaman are farmers who usually engage in the production of food crops such as maize, cocoyam, cassava and cocoa, but over the years the company has destroyed our natural resources and vast arable land making standard of living nothing to write home about.”
He averred that since the company commenced its “irresponsible operations in December 2008, it has diverted River Akusu and Anoma and mined in it,” adding that the company put rusted narrow iron pipes in the two rivers, until 2010 when the Eastern Regional Director of EPA, Mr Addo- Okyere, ordered the company to remove the rusted pipes.
According to him, the company dug big man-holes along the two rivers which, he said, do not only serve as death traps to farmers but also serve as mosquito breeding grounds.
Contaminated water from the pits, he noted, discharge into the afore-mentioned river courses, thus polluting them and making them unsafe for drinking.
He noted that Mr Okyere upon realising in May 2010 that Solar Mining had no EPA permit and mining permit ordered for the shutdown of mining operations of the company but the company unfortunately still continued with its illegal operations.
He indicated that in a recent meeting organised by the Saaman chief and his elders including the opinion leaders, a consensus was reached that Solar Mining Company/Kibi Goldfields must evacuate their mining equipment from Saaman stressing that a letter to that effect is ready to be sent to the Managing Director of the company, Mr. Samuel Odalai Lamptey.
“In Saaman, cocoa farming is our business; we are able to finance our children’s education from the sales of cocoa and cash crops like oil palm. We are an agricultural community and we want to remain as farmers hence Saaman opposes surface gold alluvial mining even if Solar is issued with the necessary mining permit,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Wacam, Mr. Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, has rubbished allegations by a section of youth from Saaman-Juaso that he (Mr. Daniel Owusu-Koranteng) runs the operations of Wacam as a family business together with his wife, Mrs. Hannah Owusu-Koranteng.
He described the allegations as baseless and lacked credibility, saying that the allegation was a calculated ploy by some rented youth in the area to discredit him and his family.
“Wacam is a registered mining advocacy non-governmental organisation with its workers from different societies in the country,” he explained

February 3, 2012

The current water situation in Brong-Ahafo Region in Ghan

The surest way to improve the quality of life of the people is improving access to quality water especially in rural communities.

Clean water is essential to health.

Though Ghana has signed up to achieving the targets set under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which cuts across all sectors of the country’s development agenda, access to potable drinking water is still a daunting problem in some communities in Brong-Ahafo.

Under the MDGs target for water, it is expected that Ghana will have provided access to 78 percent of the population with improved water by the year 2015.

By the end of 2010, about 62 percent of the more than 22 million of Ghana’s population had access to improved drinking water supply.The provisional figures from the 2010 population census put Brong-Ahafo at 2,282,128. The implication is that the population is steadily increasing but water resources cannot support the increase in the region throughout the year.

The borehole success rate of 52 percent is also relatively low. Access to potable water in rural areas in the region is 53.61 percent.

This unfortunately is below the national average of 62 percent. This is why Brong-Ahafo must be one of the government’s focal areas for improvement.

Research has shown that the region requires more than 2,243 new boreholes in communities with population within the range of 75 to 2000 people. To achieve this objective requires dedication and tenacity of purpose.

It is therefore incumbent on development partners, NGOs, Water and Sanitation practitioners and indeed every body to religiously apply him/herself to ensure that all the people in the region gain access to potable water.

This is because water is everybody’s business.

October 11, 2011

Shahrukh Khan is India’s WASH Ambassador

Edmund Smith-Asante, Mumbai, India

Leading Indian actor, Shah Rukh Kha n, has been named Indian Goodwill Ambassador for Sanitation and Hygiene.

Shah Rukh Khan is joining a campaign to ensure greater access to sanitation by the world communities that currently lack access, half of which are resident in Indian.

Khan was named a global Ambassador for Sanitation and Hygiene as part of a United Nations-backed campaign to tackle diseases such as diarrhoea, which is the second-biggest killer of children worldwide, said a WSSCC official yesterday during the opening ceremony of the Global forum on Sanitation holding in Mumbai, India.

Accepting the offer, the Bollywood actor  regarded as the King of Bollywood, (Indian’s film Industry) said, “Toilets for all will make India and the world a healthier and cleaner place, particularly for poor women, girls and others at the margins of our societies,”

Quoting Mahatma Ghandhi, he urged practitioners to “Be the change that you want to see”, and expressed confidence that he would use the new position to ensure greater access for the Indians poor and fight inequalities in the provision of sanitation and hygiene services.

October 11, 2011

WSSCC motivates sanitation practitioners

                                                        Edmund Smith-Asante in Mumbai, India

A call has gone to practitioners in the Sanitation sector should continue to working towards better service availability.

Speaking at the Global Forum on Sanitation taking place in Mumbai, India Chairperson of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), WSSCC’s Chair, Anna Tibaijuka expressed a “the firm belief, that if we can ensure access to good sanitation and hygiene to all people, including the poorest, the marginalised, the disabled, the elderly, girls, women and even men, then we will truly be making a difference in people’s lives.”


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