Water in Ghana is scare. Despite plenty of natural water resources, large parts of Ghana’s population still don’t have access to clean water and everywhere in the country you’ll see men, women and kids carrying water home, balancing the huge plastic bowls on their heads.
The factors leading to this situation are diverse: Often the pipes meant to deliver water to private homes have dried up and Ghanaians either have to pay a fortune to purchase water from private sellers or collect it from roadside pumps, tanks or wells. Many people also blame the privatization of parts of Ghana’s water system for the current crisis: The private company Aqua Vitens Rand Limited (AVRL) manages the existing system while the state is responsible for its expansion. According to many, the situation has worsen since.
Water scarcity is also a problem in Kissehman: Most people don’t have running water and need to fetch it daily from a well or another water source. Waste water flows in open drains along the streets.
Our school has its own well, luckily, so we don’t have to walk a long way – it still takes four times of going back and forth with heavy buckets of water to fill up the big bucket in the room I share with my colleague.
The big bucket lasts about two days for two persons if we use the water sparingly (when you know how much work it is to get the water in, you think twice about taking a second shower in the evening).
The bucket water is used to bath, wash clothes and flush the toilet. The facilities are there – our room has a sink, a shower and a Western-style toilet (which is very convenient – the kid’s toilet is currently just a hole in the ground behind another little brick building), so living without running water isn’t such a big deal: If you want to take a shower, you pour water in a bucket, purify it and then use a smaller bucket to pour it over yourself – it isn’t as difficult as you’d think and you definitely get clean.
Drinking water has to be bought though – either in plastic bottles or in sachets. Both are fine to drink for non-Africans, I was told to start with bottled water though as sachet water is treated with lots of chemicals and takes some getting used to.
The amount of plastic that is used to transport the drinking water and all other kinds of items you buy on the street – basically everything, even liquid food such as porridge, is wrapped up in plastic – is huge and you can see the rubbish everywhere: on the streets, in the river, in the drains along the street.