Recently, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided data suggesting that Ghana has made progress in safe water access at the national level with an improvement in the water supply to 80 per cent of the population. But in the Ho West District of the Volta Region, a community is at risk of waterborne diseases as residents rely on a dirty pond for their water needs as a result of poverty and neglect.
Abutia Amegame, a small farming community, is one of the marginalised rural communities in the Ho enclave of Ghana. It is ‘left behind’ in access to basic facilities particularly clean water and healthcare.
As a contribution to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 6, a borehole was constructed and handed over to the community by the Rotary Foundation, the Rotary Clubs of Accra West, Ho and Rotary Districts 5170, which brought joy and relief to the residents. However, in 2017, it broke-down and since then, the community has been unable to repair it for use.
At the time, the community needed only GHC1,240 for repair works on the broken-down pipe/tap but could not provide it. Reports indicate that it was not that the community did not make provisions for its maintenance but because a bank failed to release money saved towards this project.
The information available suggests that failure by Unity Rural Bank, a financial institution in the Volta Regional capital, Ho, to refund savings of the WATSAN Committee of Abutia Amegame is the reason the community is in its current situation.
Residents accuse Unity Rural Bank, formerly Adaklu Rural Bank, of deliberately frustrating them and failing to reimburse an amount of GHC1,297.75 which is the total of savings deposited at the now-defunct bank.
In an interview with some of the community members, it was revealed that the WATSAN Committee opened an account at Unity Rural Bank in 2016 to save money towards the maintenance of the only borehole in Abutia Amegame.
However, when the facility broke down in 2017, the community could not provide GHC1,240 for its repair due to failure to retrieve their locked-up cash.
Ghanavi can confirm that several attempts by the community to withdraw their savings to purchase the broken-down parts of the pipe since March 2017 have been unsuccessful.
Despite the intervention of the Ho West District Assembly, the collapsed bank has failed to pay back the money. In a letter sighted by Ghanavi, the Ho West District Assembly directed the Manager of Unity Rural Bank to allow the “WATSAN Committee to withdraw this money immediately to undertake urgent repair work on the borehole”.
See the letter below:
This posture by the Bank has compelled the community to solely depend on surface water and the rains to meet their daily water needs. Since March 2017, the indigenes have been relying on a pond of filthy water during the wet season and also trap rainwater in pots and barrels for use.
Madam Zomelo Margaret, a concerned resident bemoaned the hardship the impending dry season would bring on the community. According to her, the community is subjected to sufferings when the only source of water, the pond dries up during the dry season. This means that indigenes including school children have to trek for long to other villages to hunt for water.
“When our pipe got spoilt, we planned to repair it so we invited an engineer who gave an estimate of the parts we needed to the tune of about One Thousand Ghana Cedis. We’ve tried to withdraw our savings from the bank but couldn’t so we’ve been fetching some groundwater down the hill,” Madam Zomelo Margaret narrates.
She stressed, “This is a very worrying situation for us because, during the dry season, we have to go to Agbetikpo and other villages and sometimes, we pay drivers to transport water from Kloe and Tegbleve for us to use. This distorts the education of our children because, by the time we travel far to get water in the morning, they get tired and have to be absent from
She appeals to charity organisations, government, and philanthropists to come to their rescue as the dry season draws near.
“We’re suffering, especially during the dry season. We have to run to other far villages for water and those ones to are not good enough for humankind to use. It’s just stagnant water. We want the government and anybody who will see this video and be touched to come and help us,” another resident, Albert Dogah reiterates the awkward situation and calls for intervention.
A furious young man who was carrying a ‘Kufuor gallon’ filled water vents his anger on politicians. According to him, the politicians only come to deceive them for votes and after the elections, they fail to fulfil their promises. He, therefore, threatened that any politician who steps foot in the community to campaign in 2020 shall be chased out.
“As you can see, we’re suffering. The water we’re drinking isn’t healthy, it’s full of diseases. We’ve made up our minds not to vote in the next elections. We have to go far down the hill to fetch water from the ground so we’re pleading with you to help us repair our pipe.
To support Abutia Amegame, kindly contact the reporter via [email protected] or +233265559202 for details or directions to the community.
Story by Selorm Helen.