How do you save lives in Ghana?

Waterborne diseases a leading cause of death worldwide

Waterborne diseases and the absence of sanitary domestic water are one of the leading causes of death worldwide – according to the World Health Organisation.

Original Volunteers Ghana started its water and sanitation projects after volunteers from the UK Charity, Aquafilter made a visit. Aquafilter is run by a retired couple that has since visited Ghana on two further occasions. An engineer and biologist, they developed water filtration systems to be distributed in areas of need and set up a charity that now distributes filters around the world to poor areas and places in conflict.

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Filtering dirty water at a remote community.

70% of diseases in Ghana caused by dirty drinking water and lack of sanitary provision

The lack of clean drinking water and sanitation systems is a severe public health concern in Ghana, contributing to 70% of diseases in the country. Households without access to clean water are forced to use less reliable and hygienic sources, and often pay more for it.

Water project locations in Ghana

The local Original Volunteers coordinating team focuses volunteer efforts in the Kwahu Districts, which surround the largest man made lake in the world, Lake Volta.

Various studies of underground water have shown there is ample water  available however, digging boreholes to tap the resource is costly; on average, a water borehole and pumping systems costs 4000 pounds. Families and communities are unable to bear the costs of such installations. A much faster and practical way to obtain water is to fetch it from the lake itself, rivers, rain, streams in containers.ghana_originalvolunteers_water_filter_optimised1-1024x768

Demonstrating filtered and natural dirty water at remote community.

Common diseases caused by drinking directly from rivers and lakes

Drinking from rivers, lakes and others where other human activities take place – washing, bathing, disposing of rubbish-  brings about bacteria, parasites, viruses- includeschistosomiasis, botulism, cholera, salmonellosis, hepatitis A, polio, malaria, dysentery,typhoid fever, and many others.

Most people in these communities suffer from one or more of the above at some point in their lives. According to the World Bank, 88 percent of all waterborne diseases are caused by unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.

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Child carrying water in Ghana.

50% of the world’s hospital beds are filled with patients suffering from waterborne diseases

Children suffer the most: according to UNICEF, for children under age five, waterborne diseases are the leading cause of death. At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from waterborne diseases.

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A water filter is essential in remote communities until boreholes can be funded and installed.

What does a water filter do?

Filtering water removes 99.9% of all the parasites, viruses and bacteria responsible for transmitting diseases to humans. When people don’t get sick so often, the effects can range from increased productivity at work –less absence due to sickness-, to general improved wellbeing; pregnant mothers are less prone to being sick, and are able to take care of the little ones better; children’s health is boosted, they suffer less from diarrhoea, stunting – caused by some of the bacteria-, intellectual capacity and others.

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A water filter in action.

Water filters are now helping thousands of people in Ghana

OV has distributed so far almost 30 Community water filters and several dozen family ones in the following communities: Adawso, Pitiku, Nkyenenkyene, Kradgyei, Mangoase, Osubensu, Kofi Nyina, Ankoma, Yaw Korateng, Kwaku Safo, Oboyan no. 1, Oboyan no. 2, Nteso.

The cost of a community water filter is 200 pounds, family filter, 20 pounds. Community filters cover a population of 500, family ones can be used by large families to filter household water.

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Volunteer introduces village to new water filter.

The impact of these filters, covering a population of thousands, is being felt by children and adults from affected communities; expansion of these projects by OV Ghana include other long term interventions such as drilling boreholes and wells to tap underground water, and sanitation interventions such as the building of toilet facilities – currently ongoing at Sunrise School, Adawso.

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New toilet block at Sunrise nursery under construction.

A big thank you to everyone who has got involved

A big thank you goes to the guys at Safewatertrust, everyone who contributed towards purchasing filter kits and all who have helped with the water projects from presentations to installation of toilets and washing facilities all over the Kwahu region over the past few years.

Without your support it would not have been possible!

If you would like to find out more volunteering in Ghana please visit the Ghana project page.

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