Ghana: Water in Ghana From Pipe to Packet – Is There a Hidden Cost to This Low-Cost Solution?
In a country where pipes can stop short of reaching home, cheap sachets of water sold on the street could be an unlikely solution, but at what cost?
Nearly two billion people still drink water from faeces-tainted sources, according to a 2018 World Health Organisation (WHO) fact sheet.
That water kills at least half a million people each year with diseases such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid.
The number of people in the world who have access to an "improved water source" – one not contaminated by faecal matter – has increased by more than two billion since 1990, a 2012 WHO report shows.
Instead, millions get their water in 500ml plastic sachets – some from Johnnie Water.
Today, the little plastic packets are more sought-after than bottled water – which is for the rich – and more popular than tap water, which people don’t trust.
Osei is a microbiologist at the Ghana Standards Authority and lead author of a 2013 study on the quality of sachet water in Accra published in Food Control.
Osei believes tap water is safe to drink – with major caveats.
"You have this gap in supply, so the private sector steps in and fills the demand.
Better-quality producers rise to the top, the market incentives produce better-quality products and – without tons of overregulation – the market has ended up with a pretty good product."