Do you have a choice when thirsty? Do you go for tap, sachet or bottled water? Is it out of necessity or is it a matter of preference? Could it even be a status thing?
According to a WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme Report which was updated this year, it is estimated that a staggering 2 billion people around the world have no choice but to rely on a drinking water source that is faecally contaminated; a cold and unpleasant fact.
Bringing the issue home, the UN Resident Coordinator in Ghana, Ms Christine Evans-Klock in an interview during this year’s World Water Day celebrations in March said, in Ghana three out of every five people drank water contaminated by faeces. This puts them at risk of diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera, obviously.
These astounding and highly disturbing statistics gives one an inclination as to the reason behind the thriving sachet and bottled water industry. It also gives a clear indication as to why many Ghanaians have turned to that as their source of drinking water.
According to the Food and Drugs Authority, there were 1,238 registered and certified sachet water producing companies in Ghana as of February 2016.
More than a year down the line, the number has undoubtedly risen. In addition to these registered and certified companies are the several others operating illegally without certification by the FDA. These illegal sachet water producers are alleged to do nothing more than bag 500ml of untreated pipe-born water – sometimes, with little concern about hygiene.
As population growth continues to put a strain on Ghana’s water sources and agencies for its treatment and distribution, sachet water popularly called “pure water”, has become what seems to be augmenting a deficiency in government’s responsibility to provide clean and safe drinking water for its populace.
In many Ghanaian homes, especially in middle to high-income households, pipe-born water is relegated for use of household chores, whereas sachet water is reserved for drinking.
This comes as little surprise as last year, according to the Director of Water Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr. Joseph Addo Ampofo, although the current water purification mechanism by the Ghana Water Company Limited meets the WHO standards, it fails to clean hazardous planktons and toxins in Ghana’s water sources.
Dr. Addo Ampofo went on to reveal that kidney troubles, liver diseases and problems with the heart and the nervous system are some of the medical conditions associated with drinking water which has been polluted by some of these toxins.
For the millions of Ghanaians across the length and breadth of the country who drink tap water, they do this not as a matter of preference, but necessity. Until they move up man’s socio-economic ladder – where where they can be able to afford sachet or the far up bottled water, God help them, because government is failing.
- Godwin Kpade