Tuesday 3 January 2017

Water is Life

When We Arrived in Ghana

Golden Star first arrived in Ghana in 1999 and since then we have had a significant positive impact on the access to a clean water supply for our host communities.

A child drinking from one of Golden Star's boreholes
In 2000 the Ghana Statistical Service observed a major disparity between urban and rural areas in Ghana with regards to access to safe supplies of drinking water. In rural locations, just 15% of the population had access to pipe-borne water (inside or outside the home), whilst 40% relied on sources considered to be unsafe, with boreholes (27%) and wells (17%) providing the remainder.

The Importance of Safe Drinking Water

The human body requires water for sustenance and life. Unsafe water can contain chemical and biological contaminants that may result in disease and ill health. 

Globally, it is recognized that clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in. There is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. But due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, every year millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supplies, sanitation and hygiene.

Water scarcity, poor water quality and inadequate sanitation negatively impact food security, livelihood choices and educational opportunities for poor families across the world. Drought afflicts some of the world's poorest countries, worsening hunger and malnutrition.

What Have We Achieved?

In our 17 years in Ghana, Golden Star has funded the installation of over 200 safe water supply systems for our host communities.

These systems supply more than 25,000 households. In 2012, the Ghana Statistical Service indicated the average household size in our region to be 4.2 people, indicating that these systems may supply water to more than 100,000 people.

Before Golden Star’s involvement, most of these communities were heavily reliant on streams, often affected by illegal mining, and communities reported walking up to several kilometres a day to get water. This had a flow on effect to childhood education, as it is often the role of children in rural regions to fetch water for the family. 

What Has Been the Impact?

Our contributions have supported the work of the Government of Ghana and other private and public institutions in improving the access of communities to safe supplies of drinking water. As a result, by the 2012 Census, the number of people in the Western Region with access to pipe-borne water had doubled to 30%. In reality the impact is probably even more significant due to the increase in population during that time.

Most significantly the proportion of people relying on water supplies not considered to be safe had reduced to 16% - this is a 40% reduction compared to the situation before Golden Star's intervention!

How Do Local People Feel About It?

Nana Yaw Botwe, Odikro of Brakwaline
“The provision of potable water by Golden Star has really helped us, we used to have to walk a kilometre to the nearest stream or Mine Cottage to fetch water. Now, we have three standpipes with a continuous flow of water from the camp site. In addition, Golden Star provides maintenance support during breakdowns. I am very happy that my community enjoys adequate and good quality water”. 

Haruna Iddrissu, Assuminamu - Odumasi District Assemby School Teacher
“We are grateful to Golden Star for constructing a borehole for the school. The pupils used to have to walk 100 metres to a nearby stream to fetch water. It usually wore the children out and most did not return to school once they had gone to fetch water from the stream during break time.” 

The children of Odumasi school using their borehole

Opanin Akwasi Appiah, Odikro of Assuminamu 
“Our borehole used to be a hand dug well. There was a seasonal shortage of water and the women used to have to walk about two kilometres to fetch water from the stream until Golden Star converted it into a borehole. We have access to water all year round now." 

Opanin Akwasi Appiah using his community's borehole

Ebusuapanyin Nana Damoah, Old Subri
“With a population of about 800 people and one borehole, queuing for water became a daily struggle until another borehole was constructed. We no longer have to queue for long hours so students are able to go to school on time and there is less pressure on the boreholes. Thank you Golden Star!” 

Cynthia Duku, Women's Leader, Akyempim town
“We are more than 1,000 people in this community.  The original boreholes were insufficient to the needs of the population. Golden Star has now provided us with a mechanized borehole with standpipes at vantage points. It feels like living in an urban area now. We have access to good quality water all year round. No more queues, no more walking long distances to the fetch water. Golden Star has really helped us. We are grateful.”

Cynthia Duku collecting water from a borehole

Akyempim's water supply system, which was
installed by Golden Star

Francis Kwaw Yawson, Golden Star Water Services Officer
As I always say, “water is life”.  I have worked for the last 13 years with Golden Star as part of the team that ensures that potable water is provided to our host communities. This is done in three ways: electrical mechanized boreholes systems, manual mechanized borehole systems, and tanker service. As a unit, we go all-out to continuously improve upon the communities’ water infrastructure, increase supply and maintain the quality of the water. For example, as I ask speak now I am supervising a drilling of a new borehole at Bondaye, near our Prestea mine, to meet a larger demand. However, the maintenance of the boreholes is key to ensure a continuous supply of water, which is why my greatest satisfaction is when I have successfully trained selected members of the communities to maintain their own boreholes”. 

If you'd like to find out more about Golden Star and its approach to CSR, please visit www.gsr.com/responsibility.

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