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Below is a letter reporting the life-saving outcome of
our last trip to Ghana, West Africa in 2014 with the
Aquascape Foundation and International Needs:
International Needs Ghana Outcomes Report
AQUASCAPE RAINXCHANGE INSTALLATION
Kanuwloe, Ghana, West Africa
Kanuwloe is a community located in the North-Tongu District of the Volta Region. It has a total population of approximately 800 people and is about 120 km from Accra; the national capital. Cattle herding and peasant farming are the predominant occupations of the people of Kanuwloe.
In the year 2002, International Needs Ghana (INGH) planted a Church in Kanuwloe. This was INGH’s first intervention in the community of Kanuwloe. Kanuwloe has since benefited from other interventions: a Basic school (Kindergarten to Grade 9), International Needs Child Assistance Program (INCAP), community-wide medical outreaches, water filters, and in the year 2014, a rain water harvesting system.
Prior to March, 2014, the Kanuwloe community did not have access to potable water. INGH had constructed a 6,000 gallon rain water harvesting system at the school but the water was not purified and the community had no access to this water. The main source of water for the community was a marshland; a source they shared with the cattle they herded. The cattle contaminated the water through their fecal matter and urine. The water was therefore far from safe for consumption. The residents were therefore greatly exposed to water-borne diseases. This is reflected in the disease pattern and the cases treated during the periodic medical outreaches to the community. The dominant cases presented for treatment include; bilharziasis, scabies and schistosomiasis. The low access to water also had negative effects on education and the social and economic lives of the people.
In response to these challenges, the Aquascape Foundation in collaboration with International Needs USA constructed a 25,000 gallon rain water harvesting system. The system is comprised of a reservoir and a maintenance room with an ultra violet reverse osmosis and sediment filtration system.
Two years after the project, great outcomes have emerged. The project has contributed immensely to tremendous changes, both at the community and individual levels; physically, socially, etc. This report is supported by statements from community members demonstrating the positive outcomes of the Aquascape water project.
Access to potable waterThe project has resulted in a tremendous increase in access to potable water in the Kanuwloe community as well as the nearby communities such as Kpoviadzi and other farm hamlets. There are no economic barriers to access as the water is free of charge; neither is distance a barrier, as the system is on the school compound and is close to both the school and the households within the community.
“The water is very close to us now. Even we, the old women are able to walk there for clean water.”
– Ablah Ahuda, a 75+ year old woman from Kanuwloe
As a result of the proximity of potable water to the community members, there is now less fatigue associated with fetching water, as heavy containers do not have be carried over long distances as was the case before the installation of the water system.
“Our struggles are over now; fetching water used to be a very hectic task for us but now it is less tiring.” – Minua Agobo
As a result of the water project, the community now has access to water, all year round, not seasonally any more. The marshlands normally did not provide water for them during the dry season and even if they did the condition was extremely poor; but after the installation of the water system, potable water is easily accessed at any time, throughout the year. Also due to high temperatures, children drink water more frequently in the afternoons. In the past, medical outreaches to the community often found many cases of headaches among children in the afternoons. However, as a result of the availability of water, these frequent headaches were not observed at the medical outreach to Kanuwloe this year.
Educational OutcomesThe access to and proximity of potable water has further contributed to an improvement in school attendance, punctuality and teacher-pupil contact hours in the Community School. Children missed a lot of contact hours as a result of the long distances walked to fetch water in the morning. They got to school late and tired and struggled to concentrate in class. Some even missed school days due to
“There were times that school had to close early so the children could go out in search of water or allowed to go home to drink water (untreated). Children now stay in school and do not go home just to drink water, as was the case before.” - Erica, Nutrition Officer at the Kanuwloe School
“Children stay in school longer and school attendance has improved.”
– Pastor Justice Wudugah, Kanuwloe
“Now our children are stronger. They stay in school; they do not come home when classes are in session because they have access to water in the school.” – Millicent.
“Punctuality has improved since we got this water. Pupils come to school
earlier than they used to.” – Erica, Nutrition Officer at the School
Physical Health OutcomesGenerally, there have been improvements in the health of the populace; both young and old. The community members also testified to a reduction in morbidity in their homes after the water project.
The project has over the period contributed to a reduction of the prevalence of water-borne diseases in the community. Some people who suffered from bilharzia and continuously got re-infected after treatment, testified of their freedom. There has not been any re-infection after treatment since they started consuming the potable water.
“I no longer see blood in my urine since I started drinking this water.” – Naviwo Avakpornua
“Our children no longer fall sick frequently …” – Holy
As a result of the project people now drink water more frequently and with joy. This is because the water is pure and has no bad smell or taste like what they used to consume.
“I now drink water with joy and more frequently because the water is pure and has no smell. I drink to my satisfaction. Before, the water had a bad smell. The condition of the water
we drank then was unbelievably bad.” – Comfort Agobo
Access to potable water in the community has positively complemented INGH’s School Food and Health programs. The project made potable water available and accessible right on the compound of the Kanuwloe D/A Global Basic School for the preparation of meals for children once each school day.
“Now, cooking is easy with the access to potable water on the school compound. We no longer
spend time and energy filtering water and waiting for sediments to settle.”
- Erica, Nutrition Officer at the School Kitchen
The School Health Program focuses on effecting positive behavioral changes or preventive health habits in children such as hand washing, the practice of good personal hygiene, and good environmental sanitation. The presence of water has created the enabling environment for the children to practice these positive habits and live healthier lives. The water system has therefore contributed to nutritional growth and positive behavior change for health which the School Food and Health Programs seek to achieve respectively.
Social OutcomesThe project has yielded social outcomes as well. The water project has contributed to community members having higher self-esteem. They are very confident about the state of their water.
“When we serve our visitors from other communities this water, they ask where we got the water from. In fact this water has taken our shame away.” - Daniel Gasoe, community leader in Kanuwloe
In a typical traditional setting like Kanuwloe, social events like funerals and festivals are very symbolic. They are moments of reunion and socialization for families and the community as a whole. The sense of joy, fulfillment and prestige of every community during such periods, among other factors, lies in their ability to provide some basic comforts for their guests, including potable water. The presence of potable water undoubtedly gives the guests a more comfortable stay. Pastor Wudugah, a member of the community had this to say,
“During festivals and funerals, visitors feel comfortable staying in our
community because they are assured of clean drinking water.”
Child Protection OutcomeThe project has also played a great complementary role as far as Child Protection is concerned. Prior to the project, pupils had to leave school in search of water. This sometimes resulted in the physical and verbal abuse of some of the pupils by adults from whose homes or areas the children went in search of water. Now with water right on the school grounds, children receive their water in a safe environment.
“Children went to fetch water and were sometimes verbally or physically abused…”
-Erica, Nutrition Officer at the School Kitchen
In conclusion, it is worth noting that Kanuwloe has not merely benefited from the project but has also become a ‘center of hope’ for other neighboring communities whose children attend school in the community to come to the Kanuwloe community to fetch water for consumption.
“This project has been very beneficial. Even people from neighboring communities
come to fetch the water…” -Torgbui Wudugah IV
The change that has resulted from the provision of the water system is being felt in Kanuwloe as well as Kpoviadzi and other farm hamlets.
The water system has changed the story of Kanuwloe and provides joy and hope for a community that previously suffered from acute water scarcity.
Jaak Harju has been designing, building and maintaining ponds and water features in Morris County, NJ, as well as across the Country
(even a few international gigs!) for almost 2 decades.
In 2010, his company, Atlantis Water Gardens in Denville, NJ, was awarded Certified Aquascape Contractor (CAC) Of The Year by Aquascape Inc. and in 2014 he received the distinction of Water Feature Artist of the Year and Master CAC.