The Story Of Aflive: Searching For Little In The Midst Of Plenty
From Ada Foh to Sogakope, there are many island communities dotted along the Volta River. These communities are surrounded by water yet the residents drink that water at their own risk. Much of the water is contaminated through fishing, salt mining and other human activities.
On World Water day 2018, I took a trip to one of the communities, Aflive, to find out how they feel living in the midst of plenty and yet have none. I spent approximately 26 minutes on the Volta River from Ada to Aflive. Many people were engaged in oyster mining at the bank of the river while for others, fishing was the main occupation.
When I arrived at the island town of Aflive with a population of about 400, I couldn’t help but notice bowls in queue waiting to fetch water from a storage system. When I enquired why they prefer to queue for water while the river gives free access, a native Anna Owula vehemently retorted in her native Dangbe ‘the cost we paid for drinking the Volta River was high. Almost every day, we got summoned by teachers to take our wards to hospital because of one ailment or the other. We suffered from water-borne diseases’.
Another native, Nancy Buertey revealed how they used to pollute the same water source with their activities. ‘We used to wash in it, bath in it and sometimes defecate in it. After all that, we use the water for our chores. This led to many waterborne infections’.
With the introduction of a water treatment plant by NGO Easy Water for Everyone, residents of Afive say they have been spared the frequent hospital visits and the trauma that comes along with it. The technical director of Easy Water for Everyone, Theophilus Tetteh Ocansey explained there is no chemical introduction in the treatment of the water from the river for residents. The plant uses numerous filters that remove the bacteria and other contaminants in the raw river water before it is supplied to residents.
Another issue affecting treatment and distribution of potable water is the tide. According to residents of Aflive, because they live close to the estuary, the sea water usually mixes up with the river water, thereby, making the river water salty. The assemblyman for the Aflive Azakpa Alokpem electoral area, Dan Adjakpa explains, they have ‘now studied the pattern and noticed the tides increase the salt content of the river every two weeks.’ To confirm the assertions of the residents, I visited the Ada East District Hospital to speak with the medical superintendent, Dr. Philip Naah on the water situation on the Island Towns. Dr Naah confirms they used to record many cases of water borne diseases from the islands. ‘The pediatorkope islands are surrounded by water yet it is polluted. The people even ease themselves in the water, polluting it.’
The treated water has been certified as bacteria free by the Nogouchi Memorial Institute, Water Research Institute, the Food and Drugs Authority and the Ghana health Service. Country Director of Easy Water for Everyone, Harrison Matti is optimistic they will expand provision of potable water to other island communities in Ada and other parts of the country.
He however cautioned people living along banks of water bodies to protect nature for the sustenance of water bodies. The theme for World Water Day 2018 is ‘Nature for Water’ – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.