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Opinions of Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Columnist: Comfort Sena Fetrie

Fighting diarrhoea in Nyeko community, a shared responsibility

Water, the sages say, is life and absence or lack of it brings hardship to people. Water is one of the most critical and essential commodities living things depend on for their very survival before food and shelter. Some of the hardships associated with lack of clean water especially in rural communities are communicable diseases such as diarrhoea.

Nyeko, a community in the Savulegu/Nanton Municipality in the Northern Region, has been affected with diarrhoea diseases due to lack of clean drinking water and poor sanitation in the area. Almost every individual in the community contracts diarrhoea once or twice in a month, a situation that does not augur well for the well being of the people.

The disease is rampant because almost everybody, at least over 99 per cent of the population in the Nyeko community, draw water directly from dams and streams for direct use without treating which is affecting their health especially children under the age of one year.

What worsens the situation is that the community gets irregular rainfall, and this contributes to the dusty nature of the community. The people inhale and drink the dust which further pollutes their streams.

For this and many more reasons they are exposed to aquatic scroungers that cause Guinea worm disease and other water borne diseases in their community.

These diseases are generally not fatal, but debilitating, which can cause serious permanent organ damage and interfere with childhood development as well. The people of the Nyeko community also deserve the right to clean water to survive especially children to ensure that they grew up to become healthy citizens.

A community member who pleaded anonymity told the GNA that, “The rain water runs off roofs and roads into our dam and streams. The running water picks up poisonous chemicals, dirt, trash and disease-carrying organisms along the way”.

Many of the water sources in Ghana lack basic protection which makes the people more vulnerable to pollution from farms, industrial plants, and other human activities.

The situation, he said, could also lead to drinking contaminated water that could bring about typhoid fever, cholera and dysentery.

Dirty water is the biggest health risk in the country, and it is important to protect both quality of life and public health especially in the rural areas by providing them with treated water. The country’s rivers and lakes are important and need to be kept clean and healthy.

That is why there is need for litter traps and boom systems to be removed from waterways to reduce diseases in communities while conscious efforts should be made to provide hand dug wells for communities such as Nyeko to ensure that they have access to clean and disease free water.

The government needs to expand water distribution networks to reach as many communities as possible in the rural areas while finding a solution to reduce urban water losses and low water pressure.

Apart from the clean water, health centres and a few clinics with proper health personnel are needed to reduce environmentally related diseases like malaria, diarrhoea and skin infections and also to ensure that quality healthcare is brought to the doorsteps of every community.

Madam Ajia Muniratu, a resident of Nyeko, appealed to the government and other organisations to provide a borehole and other sources of clean water for the village so that there will not be resurgence of guinea worm.

The Village of Nyeko in the Northern Region is a small rural community of about 140 households and approximately 500 people.