Saturday, February 08, 2014

Teach school children how to test water quality in Ghana – Martin Nijsse

School boy Felix demonstrates the kit testing process
By Nathaniel Y. Yankson

The Institutional Manager of Vitens Evides International, Martin Nijsse has advocated the need for school children to be taught how to test water quality in Ghana so as to inculcate that culture in the next generation.

The call, according to him, is for them to represent a generation that would “improve our quality of life when we get old.”

Speaking at the official launch of the World Water Monitoring Challenge (WWMC) test kit in Accra last Wednesday, Mr. Nijsse noted that training and the supply of new and modern water testing equipments formed part of the project and therefore, “we need all involved partners to work together closely.”

The WWMC is an European Union supported project aimed at improving water quality and health situation in Ghana with coordination by Water Environment Federation (WEF) and International Water Association (IWA) internationally. 

In that vein, “we should not be afraid of consumers that know how to test the water and demand high quality service from us. If we all work together on it, we truly work towards a healthy Ghana with clean water”, he noted.  

Deliverable

As a core deliverable, the programme seeks to build public awareness and involvement in the protection of water resources by engaging communities as well as participate in simple water quality monitoring activities by same community dwellers especially school children to find out whether the temperature and turbidity of the water they consume at all levels meet the required positive international standards as set out by the World Health Organization. In the process the school children will become educators on the subject and be able to report situations where water quality standards are low to the appropriate quarters for redress.

Activities

Technical staff and analysts of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) laboratories would receive training and subsequently be supported with new equipment, which would lead to well-functioning laboratory infrastructure and services executed by well-trained technical staff.

The project has targeted extending awareness and knowledge about water quality monitoring within governmental institutions, the general public and operators. This is in line with maintaining drinking water and environmental water resource quality.  

Ghana Water Company Limited

Meanwhile, the Acting Managing Director of the Ghana Water Company Ltd., Godwin Dovlo has expressed resentment over the constant pollution of raw water sources by human activities in the country.

Illegal mining, sand winning, tree felling and unscientific methods of farming and fishing have negatively impacted these water bodies and thus, worsened the quality of “our raw water sources in the country,” he indicated.

Mr. Dovlo admitted “This situation poses great operational problems for GWCL especially with respect to the high production cost incurred in the use of increased tonnage of chemicals at our treatment plants.”

Being part of pragmatic measures adopted to create awareness on the need for water quality, Mr. Dovlo was optimistic that the project would help manage the long standing pollution issues the company has been grappling with.

Director of Water

Frederick Addae, Director of Water at the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, who spoke for the sector minister, Collins Dauda, mentioned that government’s vision to providing water for all by 2025 would hit the rocks should the quality of water be poor.

“It is therefore imperative to ensure that in our drive towards a hundred per cent water coverage, quality is not sacrificed,” he added.

The minister further explained that the lack of safe water was a health concern since it played a pivotal role as an agent in the spread of diseases as well as putting unnecessary pressure on health facilities.

Goal of Project

The EU project Capacity Building in Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance in Ghana was started in December, 2011 and runs until the end of this year. The goal of the project is to improve the Ghanaian water quality, and hence, the health situation. Also it is intended to contribute towards improved health of the Ghanaian population by ensuring high quality, sustainable national water quality testing, monitoring and surveillance within the service areas of Ghana Water Company Limited.

“Enhancing the capacities of Ghanaian institutions responsible for the provision of safe and potable water was not enough and that school children should be taught the rudiment of testing for water quality in the communities so they become agents of change in communities and households”, Mr. Martin Nijsse stressed.

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