The impact of climate change is threatening access to safe and sustainable water resources in many communities in Northern Ghana, a study conducted by WaterAid Ghana, a water and sanitation focused organisation, has revealed.
Challenges posed by climate change including long droughts, high temperatures, increased and erratic rainfall and floods are lowering ground water level and contaminating existing water sources, thus posing threat to access to quality and sustainable water.
The Research was conducted in four districts, the Bongo, Kassena-Nankana West and Bawku West Districts in the Upper East Region and Wa Municipality in the Upper West Region.
The findings were made known to stakeholders in Bolgatanga.
Dr Francis Bukari, a Senior Lecturer, Department of Community Development, University for Development Studies in Tamale, who was the lead consultant, conducted the research with support from Dr Raymond Aabeyir, Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Business and Integrated Development Studies, Wa.
The research, part of WaterAid Ghana’s water security and climate resilience advocacy plan revealed that many communities in Northern Ghana were already water stressed and the increased climate variability presented a significant challenge to water security.
The findings revealed that the most common source of safe drinking water in the communities was hand pump boreholes but due to climate changes there were seasonal changes in the water table, thereby affecting sustainable access to safe water by many communities.
“Climate Change is already affecting water access to more people in the selected districts, Majority of the respondents (67.4 per cent) have experienced change in access to water and more effort was being used to pump water due to seasonal change in water table,” it added.
It said Water Sector Strategic Development Plan and the National Environmental Sanitation Strategy and Action Plan, two national documents that guide the development and management of environment and sanitation sector in Ghana gave little attention to climate change as an environmental problem.
The research recommended that apart the urgent need for government to prioritise the provision of WASH services especially boreholes to communities in Northern Ghana, the National Development Planning Commission needed to support the District Assemblies to integrate climate change and water security into local development planning and make adequate resource allocation for implementation.
It said government should effectively implement the National Climate Adaptation Plan/Strategy and Nationally Determined Contributions with clear synergies and opportunities to help address water security and reduce vulnerability and build climate resilience in Ghana.
“To guide effective country-driven climate change adaptation, Ghana should reflect the importance of water management for reducing vulnerability and building climate resilience, by putting adaptive Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) at the centre of planning and investment for climate change adaptation.
“Promoting investment and implementation that incorporates management, restoration and sustainability of ‘natural infrastructure’ – the ecosystem services provided by healthy watersheds and coasts – and their benefits for climate resilient development of the agriculture and energy sectors
Mr Jesse Danku Coffie, the Head of Programmes, WaterAid Ghana, noted that water security was not only a human right but a catalyst to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals and there was the need to address the climate change issues and ensure communities had access to sustainable and safe water for use.
By Anthony Apubeo,GNA