While the Living Water from the Mountain Project is being implemented by A Rocha Ghana, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Water Resources Commission, Forestry Commissionamong other key stakeholders to turn the Atewa Range Forest Reserve into a National Park, it is prudent to also explore ways and means to address downstream issues of the Densu River Basin. The Atewa National Park when established would be a strategy to strengtheningthe protection status and sustainability of the Range.To complete the conservation process of the Densu River Basin, it is imperative to sidestep all forms of pollution and encroachment at the midstream and downstream of the Basin.
A few months ago, the Nsawam Adoagyiri Municipality and many other parts of Ghana and other regions of the world were bedeviled with severe and prolonged drought. Although the cause was erroneously traced to pollution including wrongful mining activities by primary stakeholders (interested parties who depend directly on the water resources for domestic use, farming and for other businesses), it became clearer afterwards that it was as a result of a natural phenomenon called Elnino.
Elnino is defined by prolonged and abnormal warming in the surface of the Pacific Ocean. It is a 3-month average warming of at least 0.5 °C in a specific area of the east-central Tropical Pacific Ocean. Typically, this anomaly happens at irregular intervals of two to seven years. The average period for Elnino is five years. When this warming occurs for seven to nine months, it is classified as Elnino conditions and when its duration is longer, it is classified as an Elnino Episode. The important thing to note about Elnino is the fact that it originates from the Pacific Region and impacts equatorial and tropical regions of the world.
Water resources are not evenly distributed across the world and for that matter Ghana is no exception. Within river basins, the water resources are again not evenly distributed. Downstream segments of rivers have more water than upstream sub-catchments. Due to these uneven spatial distributions, natural disasters such as Elnino would dry up the upstream of a river basin faster than the downstream. This is precisely what happened in the case of the Nsawam Adoagyiri Municipality.
In the course of the water crisis at the Nsawam Adoagyiri Municipality, primary stakeholders and secondary stakeholders (interested parties who are into the business of protection or conservation of water resources for current and future generations) were found to be accusing themselves of unfulfilled mandate instead of considering ways to avoid the recurrence of such mishaps. Under those circumstances, it would have been better for stakeholders to bring themselves to a conference to work out schemes to deal with the emergency.
Moving forward, Ghana needs to appreciate the fact that in difficult moments we must desire to investigate issues constructively instead of playing the blame game and we should be interested in finding sustainable solutions to the predicament instead of who failed to work. The drive must be unity among the categories of stakeholders in difficult moments than strife and punishment.
Additionally, the Republic of Ghana should explore various financing mechanisms through individual, entity and even foreign development partners co-operation to diagnose and institute interventions as well as the financial mechanisms to embark upon relevant projects. In the case of the Nsawam Adoagyiri seasonal water crisis and those of the Volta Basin, there is the need to embark upon massive environmental engineering projects to ensure adequate availability of water resources of good quality. This could be achieved through:
- Inter-basin and intra-basin water transfers by canals and pipeline transmission systems
- Exploring rainwater harvesting and tapping of groundwater resources
- Provisioning of comprehensive solid and liquid waste management plants in all districts in Ghana
- Strict observation of the Buffer Zone Policy, National Water Policy and all environmental laws and regulations to allow fallow the floodplains of rivers and not building in water ways
- Farmers giving space to the Densu River and all the other water bodies in Ghana. This implies farming in larger land spaces with engineered grazing and crop fields where farm wastewater and solid waste are managed to curb or eliminate pollution of natural water courses or the environment
- Re-engineering of communities such as Nsawam, Adoagyiri and many other similar slums across the entire country. Good town planning schemes that would allow space for residences, industries, recreation, commercial and social amenities
- Attitudinal change which is key to sustainable development. This points to discipline with respect to personal and communal hygiene, sanitation, abiding by rules and regulations as well as cultivating the conduct of preparedness to generate and spend financial resources to achieve community led total sanitation across the length and breadth of the Nsawam Adoagyiri Municipality and by extension the whole of the Republic of Ghana.
Ghana is endowed with more than enough water resources with particular reference to the Volta Basin draining from five countries (Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Benin, Togo) into Ghana. What is required is the infrastructure to deal with the seasonal water crunch.
It is important to note that the Weija Dam Acquisition is being guarded by security personnel deployed by the National Security Council. Lessons learned from these practical conservation efforts would be replicated across all other major river basins in Ghana.
Within this period of water affluence, we must not forget about what we went through recently and become victims over and over again in succeeding dry seasons. The way to go is inter-basin or intra-basin water transfer from either the Volta Lake or the Weija Lake respectively in sorting out the Nsawam Adoagyiri seasonal water difficulties.