Victoria Sankpara, 47 and mother of four, is a local farmer in Sankara, a community located in the Nadowli Kaleo District of the Upper West Region.
The people of Sankana, 19 kms north of Wa, the regional capital, had for a long time depended on ground water and wells for their water needs until the advent of boreholes for safe drinking water.
“Until recently, we depended on two boreholes for drinking, cooking, washing and all other water needs,” said Madam Sankpara.
With queues forming by the boreholes as early as 4.am, the situation was challenging to farmers and school children, who needed to start their daily chores early.
“Sometimes, the queues are so long that, we are able to get just one pan of water before leaving for the farm, and even then, we get to the farm late. When we return from farm in the evening, women and children go back to the boreholes to draw water, no matter how tired we are,” she stated.
But, the situation has started improving for the community members, thanks to 4Ward Development, a safe water business, providing access to safe drinking water for rural communities in Ghana.
Like some other households, Madam Sankpara now has pipe-borne water in her home, leaving behind the unpleasant ritual of waking up early to hustle for water before setting off to the farm, and doing same on her return from the farm in the evening.
“Now, I go to the farm, and return without any pressure to find water for the household because the pipe is right here in the house. And as a farmer, I am no more worried because I know there is water at home,” Madam Sankpara stated.
Like the 47-year-old farmer, other women in the community, see the intervention by 4Ward Development as a social revolution, bringing much-needed safe drinking water to the doorsteps of residents of the community and children can go to school early as they no longer spend hours in search of scarce water.
Participants in the just-ended MOLE XXXIV Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) conference, held at the Royal Cosy Hill Hotel in Jirapa, in the Upper West Region, paid a familiarisation visit to the small-town water system in Sankana last Thursday, 2nd November 2023.
The water system built by 4ward Development about a year ago, is branded NUMA Water, comprising a solar-powered mechanised borehole, which is pumped to a treatment station where the water passes through various stages of treatment and filtration before being pumped into 10,000 litre overhead Rambo poly tanks for distribution by gravity.
“The borehole yields 70 litres per minute with a standby generator to augment the solar system,” said Ahmed Yekini, Regional Director for Northern Operations for 4Ward Development.
So far, he said the Sankana water system has installed two public retail points, two home retail points for individual entrepreneurs who want to sell to their neighbours, and 67 home connections.
The individual connections use prepaid metering at for homes, clinics, schools, and businesses, with a certain density of water points to achieve economies of scale. This strategy ensures that the long-term operations and maintenance costs of NUMA are low enough for sustainable safe water access to the community.
Yekini pledged that 4Ward Development was working to connect all public schools in the community with the water system, while more overhead tanks are built to serve the needs of the increasing number of homes being connected to the system.
“He assured, “We have a 20-year development agreement with the district assembly to remain the main partner for the provision of safe drinking water to the people, and this will ensure sustainable access to water in the district and the communities.
He said this intervention would contribute significantly to help Ghana achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on water, leaving nobody behind.
Naa Pagranege Sakoe Mornah III, Paramount Chief of the Sankana Traditional Area, who received the visiting team, lauded 4Ward Development for easing the stress his people go through to access clean water.
“Access to clean water has been a major challenge here due to the rocky nature of the place. Water from the streams looks like cocoa beverage, especially during the raining seasons. But now, many households have access to safe water through NUMA Water,” Naa Mornah III stated.
He urged 4Ward Development not to rest on its oars but build small-town water systems in the entire Sankana traditional area to alleviate the water scarcity, which would go a long way to eliminate water-borne diseases.
Along the highways leading to, and out of the region and the various districts are signages of NUMA Water, with the tagline, “Safe, Reliable, Convenience,” pointing to the passion that drives the institution’s interventions in the region and across the country wherever they operate.
The development NGO has been operating in the Upper West Region since 2022 and has so far provided safe drinking water to at least 45,000 individuals in five districts of the region, including Nadowli-Kaleo, Wa East, Wa West, Wa Municipal Area,and Daffiema-Bussie-Issa.
NUMA Water is also present in the Sawla-Tuna-Kalba District of the Savannah region, bringing development to communities through the provision of clean water, which allows more people to go about their daily businesses with ease.