Access to potable water eludes Kotokuom residents

originally posted on June 30, 2016


Illegal gold mining activities is depriving residents of Kotokuom access to potable water as the only water body in the community is heavily polluted.

Residents blame the pollution on local authorities for giving out lands around the Offin River for mining operations. Kotokuom is a small farming community in the Atwima Mponua District with about 85 per cent of residents solely dependent on farming as their main source of livelihood.

But the worrying practice of galamsey is gradually taking root in the community, leading to the destruction of farmland and the only alternative source of drinking water for residents. Currently, over 1,000 residents are served by one borehole facility.

They queue for hours to fetch water from the borehole, which frequently breaks down. Most residents have resorted to drinking only sachet water, as they suspect the borehole is also polluted.

“Clean water is a luxury in this community. We have to go through a lot before we get clean drinking water because of the greediness of some individuals and group of persons who want to get money at the expense of our health,” said one resident, Maryama Mumuni.

The people of Kotokuom are disheartened that their livelihoods will be sacrificed for individual’s selfish interest. Kwame Danso said the youth in the area will resort to any means to stop the galamsey activities. He complained about the rampant cases of water borne diseases such as diarrhoea and dysentery among residents.

“The water from the borehole is sometimes milky and not fit for drinking purpose, but some of us have no choice than to drink the contaminated water. This has led to high prevalence of water-borne diseases in this area,” he said.

A visit to the Kotokuom health centre confirmed the high rate of water-borne diseases in the area. The facility has recorded over 100 cases of water borne diseases since the upsurge of galamsey in the area.

The illegal mining activities started in the area barely a year ago and residents fear the activity will further worsened poverty in the area if not stopped.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 talks about ensuring universal access to safe and affordable drinking water to all by 2030.
But until the illegal mining is stopped and an additional borehole facility provided to the community, residents of Kotokuom will continue to struggle in search of potable water for drinking and other domestic purposes.

Protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems such as forests, mountains, wetlands and rivers is essential if Ghana is to mitigate water scarcity and achieve SDG 6 target.

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