Water Crisis in Greater Accra: Report from Tema

For months, the water supply has been erratic in Community 11, the area of Tema, Ghana where we live. Since I came back to Ghana about one month ago, we have had water only seven days.

In more densly populated areas in Tema like community 4 and Michel Camp where relatives live, there has been no water at all for a full month. That might not impress many Accra folk who have been without piped water for years(!), but in our communities we are used to water flowing and are therefore poorly prepared for a sudden halt in services. Now desperate Tema people are collecting water from the open gutters…

Although there are rumors for the cause and duration of this water problem (Teshie and Nungua is getting our water / pipes are old / there has been a major leak etc), there seems to be no reliable information to be had. An undated(!) entry at Ghana Broadcasting Corporation quotes the responsible minister, Mr Bagbin, as saying

“government will soon go into negotiation with Duraplast Limited to find ways for the company to supply the Ghana Water Company with high quality PVC pipes to replace the outdated once to ensure equal distribution”.

A statement that leave me with many questions. Another article, now from The Chronicle is looking at the longterm water problem. In it one of my Ghanaian heros, Mr Azeem from Ghana Integrity Initiative, claims 1,49 billion USD is needed to solve the problem of water supply by 2020. He also is sitting on the very interesting information that Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) is currently supplying half of the demand or 551,000 cubic metres per day, as against a daily demand of 939.000 cubic metres.

GWCL provides no such information on their website (although they ironically do promote an “international training in customer management”). Sadly, I have seen nothing on news websites and not heard any announcements on radio. (Has there been any info in newspapers or on TV?). The informative website WaterWiki has more statistics, but no up-to-date info on what is happening in the area now. Under the headline of Sanitation status for Accra /Water supply, they matter-of-factly state the sad truth:

“in-plot piped water supply is much less frequent in low-income communities”.

What is going on? Where is the water? What is the Tema and Ashaiman municipalities doing about it? Why is GWCL not informing its customers about what is happening? (As they are able to still serve us with bills, we suspect they can if they want) Who is responsible for the effects of this drought of the pipes – like cholera and other diseases? And where is the outrage?

Read an earlier post on water here.

Picture borrowed from iconarchive.com

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  1. My mum says they have made a couple of announcements on radio that the water shortage is because of a fault that they are supposedly rectifying. Le sigh

  2. I feel you, Kajsa. Where IS the outrage? Why don’t people protest more? I know I sound naive and Scandinavian but…. people need water to live for God’s sake. During the summer when we were in Tema a whole week went by without a drop. People who can’t afford to buy water, what do they do? And how can they still bring bills when there is no supply? My mother in laws water meter (??) was broken, but instead of fixing it, they send her fixed bills, since her meter doesn’t work, even though she is not USING any water. Ahh.. makes me so angry…

  3. We’ve got water in Teshie so thanks for lending it! Someone told me that the government is unable to supply enough water to the vast and increasing population of Accra so is building a new pipeline to be finished in a few years. We get water that flows once a week.

  4. I really feel for you Kajsa, especially with a baby in the house, you need every drop available. (At this moment I am glad I did not find time to suggest using recyclable diapers!). From my end, I hear the situation will go on for another ten days, far too long if you ask me, but I hope that it will end after that, usually the government tries to give us a break for a happy Christmas.

    Still, at least we can be happy that Graham is benefitting from Tema’s water!

  5. @graham, haha good for you! Once a week is def. better than never because the one can fill up ones buckets. I hope you are right about another pipeline, what was the source?

  6. @MayaMaame, you DID recommend cloth diapers and S’s bum thanks you for it. Luckily our resourceful nanny finds ways of washing them with very little water. How is the north?

  7. @Yngvild Yes, people do need water to live. And those who cannot afford to buy it when the flow stops, fish it out from gutters. Makes me want to cry when I think of how many children will fall ill because of it.

  8. Oh Kajsa! This has been going on for years. People are tired. Here in East Legon, the water mafia is now charging GHC 60-70 for a tanker! A good friend stopped his 20 year fight with GWCL by building huge rainwater collection tanks and he is now free. We should think about such solutions! GWCL cannot help us, they are a political institution that stays deadlocked in their own infighting, totally incapable of coming up with a strategic plan. I am hearing that instead of coming up with solutions, GWCL is now talking about firing AVRL from managing the water supply. Some public / private partnership! Plus how can everyone expect AVRL to finance improvements to the water supply when a huge percentage of water supplied in Accra is stolen or just “disappears”‘ through the cracks? Would you give a loan to a company where money just disappears? Unfortunately, some past politicians have erroneously informed the people that the meaning of water as a basic human right means that you don’t have to pay for it. Meanwhile, the whole system is crumbling and rotting away. We are lost, I tell you, lost…

  9. I’m so sorry, Kajsa. Especially with a baby in the house. It’s symptomatic of the problem that we in Community 19 have water and you don’t. Our water flows at least about 3 -4 times/week. The inconsistency and choppy coverage is a hallmark of the problem. And their reasons are laughable. How can Teshie/Nungua be blamed for getting your water? There is enough water to go around. The problem is poor infrastructure. Keep on the pressure. What I also hate is the typical Ghanaian attitude of sitting in our houses complaining and not even routinely calling the authorities. Argh.

  10. it is always funny because they close pipes in tema community 11 but water is always running in our house and the whole community is always fetching form my house…i think am lucky

  11. @ Kajsa….nice afternoon coffee with you. It was like having coffee with a celebrity.

  12. Thanks, Frank. Good to see you again and to know that our auntie is in good hands! 🙂