Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Suffering at the Mercy of Water

We all know how important water is in our daily lives. We use water to cook food, rehydrate our bodies, keep our bodies clean and so on. Water also plays important roles in both natural and man-made systems. Simply, water is life.

However, many people across the world are also suffering from water-related problems in many ways. In this post I'll try to highlight some of the issues surrounding the availability and use of water in our world today.

Water shortage

Many people, especially those in urban and peri-urban areas of the developing world, have limited or no access to water on a daily basis. Some of them have to travel long distances, and also expend high amounts of financial resources, in order to get water for everyday life. What beats my imagination is the fact that countries that have many natural water sources, such as Ghana fall into this category. The situation causes significant stress to workers, students and visitors wherever it exists.

Water-related illnesses

There are many illnesses related to water. Off the top of my mind, I can recall Guinea Worm Disease (GWD), onchocerciasis (river blindness), bilharzia, malaria, cholera, typhoid fever and water poisoning. The list is endless. Health conditions propagated by water, apart from causing harm and distress to families, also result in massive reduction in the productivity of its victims. This consequently leads to lower incomes for families, attendant with huge socio-economic costs.

Water accidents

Accidents are fall-outs of human's activities on water bodies, especially travelling and sports. Almost everyone is familiar with the classic story of the Titanic. But in modern times, accidents such as the M.V. Joola accident in Senegal in 2002 have captured the world's attention. Here's also statistics on various boating accidents in California. Recklessness, disrespect for regulations, lack of appropriate equipment and sheer hard-luck are some of the causes of incidents of this nature.

Natural disasters

The new wave of climate change that has swept the world has brought in its wake many water-related natural disasters. The news are full of stories of floods, droughts, sea erosion and tsunamis. What these disasters do is to rob people of their property, loved ones as well as their means of livelihood. There is also an increase in the spread of various contagious diseases as a result of these conditions. An interesting observation is that water-related problems are often aggravated during other natural disasters whose primal causes have nothing to do with water. The recent Haitian earthquake is a case in point.

So, it is quite obvious that although water is essential for our survival on the planet, some natural and man-made factors have combined to make us suffer from this natural resource. This has created the situation whereby, although water is life, it has become sickness, suffering and even death for large swathes of the world's population. In order to help turn things around, it's important for us to arm ourselves with requisite information. The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) has more detailed information here. Let us all get on board to save the masses from suffering at the mercy of water.

PS: This belated blog post is part of GhanaBlogging's participation in this year's World Water Day, which was held yesterday. Cheers Jemila!


  1. How do we keep other countries or the past colonial powers from polluting our waters with our own processed natural resources?

    Our past is rich with peaceful reign as it is with peaks of violence but peace was always the undercurrent, how can we regain control of our waters? It rains everywhere....


  2. We must develop the guts to stick to the regulations we've put in place over the years. The kinds of spillage and pollution seen in Coted'ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and all around Africa are simply unacceptable.

    The past is replete with examples where our natural resources were used sustainably. That makes Sankofa very relevant for our times. It's up to us to take action.

  3. Our apologies for the very late response. Does the commission or ministry in place care as much as the citizens? or are they looking strictly at profit?


Keep comments and insights coming to get the discussion going!