Last week the Ghana Water Company has announced to increase water tariffs by 0,8%. This comes in a time when the demand for water in Accra exceeds supply by roughly two thirds, and the accelerating inflation rate is putting a huge burden on consumers. What makes provision of water to Accra so expensive is not only the loss of revenue to leakages, illegal abstraction, and further causes stated by the company’s public relations office: at the Weija dam and treatment plant I learn from the operations manager that the water extracted from the dam, currently serving major parts of Greater Accra, is highly contaminated with human and agricultural waste as well as from mining activities. Enormous amounts of chemicals are used in the treatment process, imported from Europe and Asia, and thus traded in foreign currency. While the supply gaps are hoped to be closed by next year as a result of infrastructure expansion projects, maintaining the infrastructure without raising consumer prices will remain a challenge.
Houses around the Densu delta have been in water for the past three weeks now, after continuous spillage at the Weija dam, and as more rain is coming down almost every day. While many residents report that the present situation is one they face annually, in some areas it is assumed that the June floods have been exceptional (a 1 in 10 years event), and therefore do not require any further preventive strategies to be taken. In both the more and the less frequently affected areas, even while standing with their feet in the water, residents object to the idea of resettling to a less flood-prone site. The reasons for staying are manifold (affordable rent, investment made into land and construction, social network, access to work place,and others that I can only speculate about), yet in the eyes of government officials in charge of public health and disaster risk management they do not justify the risks the dwellers are creating for themselves and others by living in a flood prone area. When assessing the damage done by the recent floods on a field trip, NADMO, Health Service and municipal representatives get into passionate discussions of when and how to demolish and safely resettle the residents of these places. Given the sheer size of settlements in the flood plains, the competitive land market in and around Accra, and the disapproval of such plans among residents, a viable solution is far from being found.