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WORLD WATER DAY 2017

WORLD WATER DAY 2017 published on

Make Safe Water Available To All In Ghana!

2030-01-01 003Today is World Water Day!  The day (22nd March) was instituted in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly, to focus on taking action to tackle the world’s water crisis.

As part of world water day celebration, Stand Ghana is focusing attention on the plight of millions of Ghanaians who still lack access to clean, safe and affordable water – particularly women and girls whose traditional duty it is in Ghana to go out looking for water for the family every single day.

The reality is that too many people still do not have access to safe water in Ghana even though it is a human right. Others have to walk very long distances to get access, and a great many others are getting access at an alarmingly high financial cost.

In July 2010, The United Nations General Assembly, by Resolution A/RES/64/292, recognized water and sanitation as a fundamental human right. By this, water is supposed to be accessible and affordable, and must not cost more than 3% of household income.

This means that having access to safe, clean and affordable water for drinking and domestic activities is everyone’s basic human right and must be treated as such.

According to UN Water, “1.8 billion people currently use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio.”

Here in Ghana, available statistics on water indicate 40% of Ghanaians lack access to safe drinking water, whilst 50% of rural dwellers currently rely on unsafe water for drinking and other household activities. Given the fact that water is life, this statistics is worrying and unacceptable.

According to The UN Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2015, everyone in the world must have access to safe water by the year 2030. The big question is, is this SDG target really achievable?  Well, only if the right steps are taken fast.

Government – both local and national and other stake holders urgently need to step up on provision of better water infrastructure for adequate supply and distribution of safe, clean water at affordable prices to every community and home in Ghana so that this particular human right can be made real in the lives of every Ghanaian.

Water Is Now A Human Right

Water Is Now A Human Right published on

Human Rights to Water: Content, Facts and Implications

 

Access to safe clean water for drinking and household use is now recognized and established  as a Basic Human Right, thanks to the United Nation’s Resolution A/RES/64/292 on human right to water and sanitation.

Following the establishment of water as a basic human right by the United Nations General Assembly on 28 July 2010, states, including Ghana, are charged to make this human right real in the day to day lives of their people.

Member states are supposed to promote access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services and work towards the progressive realization of the human right to water and sanitation in their respective countries

The resolution notes, and rightly so, that the human right to water is crucial to life and for the full enjoyment of all other human rights.

This is a very welcoming development because all people need water, everyone drinks water daily, and everyone, in particular women and girls living in poorer communities would benefit immensely from the realization of the human right to clean, safe water.

Stand Ghana highly hails and endorses the creation of  this new human right by the UN General Assembly – it is long over due!

We agree with the developers of this all important human right in the sense that  water is  indisputably very essential for the sustenance of human life; and that if effectively implemented in Ghana, it would help immensely in improving health and quality of life in every Ghanaian community.

Water Facilities Are Socio-economic Necessities
Water Facilities Are Socio-economic Necessities

We therefore call on the government to provide more water facilities and to ensure the availability of adequate, clean and safe water for the people of Ghana as stipulated by the content of this resolution.

We also call on the media and other stakeholders to aggressively promote this human right and impress upon government to swiftly honour its obligations to the people.

The contents of the resolution include the following key principles:

SUFFICIENCY
The principle of sufficiency implies that the water supply for each person must be sufficient and continuously available for personal and domestic uses. These uses ordinarily include drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation, personal and household hygiene. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 50 and 100 litres of water per person per day are needed to ensure that most basic needs are met and few health concerns arise.

SAFETY
Safe. The water required for each personal or domestic use must be safe, therefore free from micro-organisms, chemical substances and radiological hazards that constitute a threat to a person’s health. Measures of drinking-water safety are usually defined by national and/or local standards for drinking-water quality. The World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines for drinking-water quality provide a basis for the development of national standards that, if properly implemented, will ensure the safety of drinking-water.

ACCEPTABILITY
Acceptable. Water should be of an acceptable colour, odour and taste for each personal or domestic use. All water facilities and services must be culturally appropriate and sensitive to gender, lifecycle and privacy requirements.

PHYSICAL ACCESSIBILITY

Water For Everyone, Everywhere
Water For Everyone, Everywhere

Physically accessible. Everyone has the right to a water and sanitation service that is physically accessible within, or in the immediate vicinity of the household, educational institution, workplace or health institution. According to WHO, the water source has to be within 1,000 metres of the home and collection time should not exceed 30 minutes.

AFFORDABILITY
Affordability means that, water, and water facilities and services, must be affordable for all. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) suggests that water costs should not exceed 3 per cent of household income.

Mining & Human Right Problems

Mining & Human Right Problems published on

Environmental Conservation : A Human Rights Imperative

A bulldozer Clearing Vegetation for Mining

Mining activities don’t just bring in gold and money, they impact negatively on the environment, land rights, and people’s livelihoods.
The big question is, is it right that communities and individuals remain at the mercy of mining companies whose activities destroy the environment and disregard people’s rights as if there are no laws? Should farmlands, which provide livelihoods for poor people, be destroyed in the name of mining?
The fact that indiscriminate removal of vegetation for mining activities is still taking place in alarming proportion, and local communities are displaced and deprived of their sources of livelihood and water should be of major concern to everyone.
Surely, the violation of people’s rights in this manner for economic gains is cruel, irresponsible and the worst thing to do.
Ghana’s Mining and Environmental policies and regulations appear to be guided by the preventative approach. The intention is that socio-economic activities must be undertaken in such a way as to avoid destroying the environment and trampling on the rights of individuals and groups.
Yet, despite their large numbers, these laws do not seem to be working. Especially, when it comes to the operations of small scale and illegal miners, there seems to be no laws regulating them, as prescribed regulations are hardly followed
We recognise that mining is crucial to Ghana due to the sector’s huge contribution to national revenue, foreign exchange and employment generation.
However, for many in mining areas, mining operations provide more negative consequences than positive, and this is not acceptable.

Vegetation destroyed for mining in Enyinem - Ghana

Let’s take firmer actions to save our environment from indiscriminate mining
Most worrying of all is that the people often affected are the poor and marginalised local inhabitants who do not have the resources and capacity to claim or fight for their rights.

Unfortunately, the relevant intuitions such as EPA, The Minerals Commission, the Police and others, whose responsibility it is to protect the rights of these vulnerable people are often unable to ensure that acceptable mining practices and procedures are used.
There is almost no effective impact of the work of relevant regulatory bodies in the mining sector. Indeed, we have seen images of how law enforcement agencies have raided mining sites, only for the miners to come back on site the next day to continue their destructive work.
What is not clear is what the purpose of most of the raids or visits to illegal mining sites are for. Is it to end the problem or just show the public that the authorities are working even if the problems remain unsolved?
The seemly lack of effective monitoring and implementation of relevant laws is a major worry for us at Stand Ghana. We do not believe enough is being done. The people of Ghana need the type of monitoring that will ensure mining companies can’t abuse the environment and get away with it. The people of Ghana deserve better monitoring and law enforcement.
We are no longer interested in mock monitoring. Monitoring that does not yield effective solutions is of no use to anyone, it is meant for the press and public show only. That sort of monitoring does not serve the interest of those who suffer from the negative impact of mining operations.
Finally, we at Stand Ghana are of the view that much more needs to done to protect the rights of poor and vulnerable local inhabitants in mining communities. We believe that, if authorities and all appropriate institutions are determined to make the law work, they can make happen.

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