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Water challenges in West-Africa, Ghana

Mar 2012
Ghana

Even more than in the rest of the world, access to safe water is a tremendous challenge in Africa. Ghana, located in West Africa is often seen by its neighbours as a model for democracy and is at the same time also experiencing solid economical growth.

Quality infrastructure is one of the key pillars of a sustainable economical development, and among the many facets of infrastructure, quality water distribution and sanitation systems have an important role to play.

In May 2011, Borealis, together with its local partner Interplast, held a seminar in Ghana’s capital to share best practices and experiences with the local value chain members.

Access to safe drinking water is key for human health, but also for the economical development of a country. One of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) is therefore to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015. The surveys regularly carried out by the World Health Organisation show that despite regular progress being made, the access to piped water is still low in Sub-Saharan African countries.

Bringing water from available sources to the household is considered critical to ensuring that people will have enough water for drinking, food preparation and personal hygiene. Together with a strong political commitment to reach the Millennium Goals, many different factors are playing a role in the practical implementation.

In Ghana, almost 10 years ago now, a decisive step was made towards making the installation of new pipe networks easier. This was the decision made by the company Interplast to start up a PE pipe production. This suddenly created easy access to a high quality and economical pipe source, helped faster implementation of the political decisions, and at the same time also contributed to the local economy.

An economy growing at more than 6% with urgent need to invest into infrastructure

According to the World Bank, Ghana is currently one of the best-performing economies in Africa. By improving policies and institutions, and investing in infrastructure and basic services, Ghana has brought down poverty levels. Ghana’s economy was growing at 6.4% before the global economic crisis, but is estimated to have dipped to 4.7% in 2009.

Ghana has a perennial water problem. Most parts of the country suffer annual and monthly water shortage problems. The UN Millennium Development Goal set a target of 75% coverage of potable water supply by 2015, but Ghana raised the bar to 85%. Recently, The Ghana Water Company said it needed US$ 1.6 billion capital investment to revamp the country’s water production systems to meet government’s 85% target by 2015.

An impressive number of projects have therefore been launched or are under preparation in order to reach this ambitious target, ranging from drilling or rehabilitation of new boreholes, to construction of completely new transportation and distribution systems.

Borealis supporting local value chain partners’ knowledge in facing the challenges ahead

Big challenges create great opportunities, but require specific attention and support to the local value chain. In particular, it is important to educate about choosing the right material and the advantages of the latest installations techniques.

In a seminar hosted by Interplast, Borealis presented the advantages of the PE & PP solutions for drinking water and sewage pipes to more then 60 participants – representatives from Ghana, Nigeria and Benin, with for instance Ghana Water Company Limited, Community Water & Sewerage Association, Unicef, Contractors, Mines, Federal Capital Territory Water Board (Nigeria), Ministry of Water Resource Dvpt (Nigeria), Lagos Water Corp (Nigeria) and Ogun State Water Corp (Nigeria). The aim of the seminar was to share knowledge and expertise in order to enable the value chain members to make the right choices that will determine the durability of the current investments for the future decades.