Global action vital for access to water and sanitation

Update

September 25, 2020

Social

Global action vital for access to water and sanitation

Update

September 25, 2020

Social

To mark its 75th anniversary year, the UN launched a global consultation at the beginning of 2020 and recently published the results in a report The future we want, the United Nations we need. Among its findings is a loud and clear call to give immediate priority to improved access to safe water and sanitation (SDG 6).

The UN report also identifies the need for greater solidarity and support for those hardest hit by COVID-19 by tackling inequalities and rebuilding a more inclusive economy. Providing local communities with clean water and good sanitation through inclusive projects helps tackle other sustainable development goals, such as ending hunger (SDG 2), improving healthcare (SDG 3) and promoting responsible food production (SDG 12).

The World Economic Forum recognises water stress as a global threat, with over 20 billion people already dealing with water scarcity. By 2030, this could even impact almost half the world’s population. At present, 80 percent of waste water is released into the environment untreated.

Clean water for north-east Ghana
 

Waste water treatment has been one of the key focuses of Dutch water experts since the 1970s. As a result, 99.9% of Dutch households today have access to chlorine-free clean drinking water. Now together with its international partners, the Netherlands is using its knowledge to support developing countries realise public-private partnerships (PPP) which can supply clean water for irrigation and domestic use.

One such initiative is taking place in the north-east region of Ghana. The Navrongo & Bolgatanga Water Supply Project aims ultimately to create a reliable water supply to the region’s residents. In this project Denys Engineers & Contractors  (the Netherlands), is collaborating with the Ghanaian and Dutch government. The project, which employs over 200 staff, is being carried out under the leadership of project manager Annelies De Beule. She describes the objective of the project,
 

“Over a period from 2021 to 2040, the project will serve more than 200,000 people in the beneficiary municipalities and districts with very good quality water, mainly for domestic use.”
 

Today, the region already has two irrigation dams in Vea and Tono which could provide a sufficient water supply. Although it has not been able to meet the local demand for drinking water in a reliable way. The project is renewing the infrastructure of the town of Vea and building a new waste water treatment plant in Tono. This will increase with the total daily capacity of potable water to over 20,000 m3. From here the water will be transported through 64-kilometres pipeline to Navrongo, Bolgatanga and Paga. In these towns, a distribution network will add another 50 km to the network of pipelines.

The whole project will cost 42 million euros, a third of which is financed by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency’s infrastructure development ORIO programme. It is due to be completed in July 2021.

Water for irrigation
 

Although the north-east is considered as Ghana’s least developed region, its provincial towns are growing rapidly. The Navrongo & Bolgatanga Water Supply Project will provide drinking water through publicly accessible standpipes to 200,000 residents, who up to now had no access to clean drinking water. It will also provide 80,000 residents with a more reliable water supply and extend the current growing season from 6 months to all year round – making the region less susceptible to drought.

In the arid conditions of north-east Ghana, water for irrigation will enable the cultivation of crops such as rice, tomato, soya beans, onions, pepper and green vegetables. This will contribute significantly to food security, which in turn will help to stem migration to the larger cities.

Global cooperation is vital
 

At a time when there seems to be so much division and insurmountable challenges posed by the pandemic, the message that came back to the UN during its consultation with 50,000 people in 50 countries was clear: “the overwhelming majority of us believe that global cooperation is more vital than ever”. And COVID-19 has magnified the need to work together to continue to find inclusive solutions to global problems. By joining together we can take the necessary steps to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.