“What will happen if women and girls are educated to stand against illegal mining in Ghana, to save our water?”
Water is a precious commodity, it is a gift to our own survival. I recall those days when we used to bathe in the small creek in the village. When we used to watch the small fishes in the creek and get excited when we saw anything swimming in the water. I remember as children we used to throw bread into the water just to see the fishes coming to take a bite. Oh we thought the creek would be there forever.
I remember the days when we used to go long distances to fetch water. People formed queues with their gallons, stones etc. Women and girls were, as usual, travelling long distances to fetch water, carrying basins, gallons and tanks. Ah! The long distance and the heavy water. I used to dread those days. I recall some people were missing classes all in the search for the precious commodity for human’s survival that is water! Most often classes were dull because we missed some of our lively outspoken girls in class because they were absent going to look for water. We only prayed that they would come to school the next day.
But we were very happy when finally we had our community stand pipe. Even with that, we had to wake up at dawn to form queues to fetch water in the dry season when the water level was low. We cannot afford to do nothing whilst our water bodies are polluted.
Poor women and girls are always victims of having to bear the brunt of looking for water. So what if women and girls were educated to advocate for, and to save our water bodies? Who bears the brunt when our water bodies are extinct and there is not enough water to care for the children, ourselves and other domestic purposes?
I recall in those days when we were travelling to the big towns, we all stood in awe when our bus passed over the Beposo bridge and we saw one of the tributaries that joined into the river Pra, our source of water in the twin city. I recall the thick forest and the lush green vegetation that surrounded that tributary river. Today, the river has lost it natural colour. It is now a muddy water flowing.
Oh mother earth! What happened to the water bodies you left us for our own survival? Today we are facing water shortages in some part of the western and eastern regions and other cities and towns in Ghana, all because the Main river that is treated for potable water for the people in those areas is now polluted by illegal miners. Illegal mining or locally called “galamsey” activities have taken over the people, and they wash the chemicals back into the river, polluting it. Now illegal mining has spoiled and destroyed most of the rivers that we have. Sadly, we no more have Pra and Ankobra river. It is now two big muddy waters, flowing along.
The raging argument now is: Are we polluting and destroying our water bodies because of employment activities? For whose benefit I say! What about our survival? Do we think about our health? I know what it feels like to walk long distance in search of water! I know what it feels like if I have to be late for school just because I went in search of water first. I know what it feels like if I have to abandon classes just to care for a sick relative. I know what it feels like when a river we all look at in wonderment, with its strong current and flow is now a big muddy river. I know what it feels like when your whole town is short of water because the water has been polluted and it now unsafe for drinking. You look at the river and wonder what happened to all the beautiful fishes and living things in it when you know it does not support any life or living thing.
Greed, politics and bad policies have all contributed to cutting down the vegetation cover, food and cash crops for illegal mining to pollute our water bodies. Bad policies give in to businessmen to mine and destroy our water bodies and to kill all of us. I weep because the consequences or burdens of polluting water and human’s survival will fall on the women and children. What do we do as women and girls? And what if we all unite and fight against polluting our water bodies, what if we advocate against illegal mining and the release of chemicals that destroy our water bodies? Women are prone to so many diseases from the poisonous chemicals in the water bodies. What if we demand an end to it now in our own small way?
I start my advocacy now, the clarion call is now the advocacy.
Each one who reads this is advocating to protect our water bodies. Let all women and girls in the villages, towns and cities be educated on the need to preserve our water bodies. Let all women and girls join in this advocacy campaign to stop people who pollute our water bodies so we can save lives. We will fight against illegal miners because they have destroyed our water bodies and we are now getting scarce potable water. We have started traveling long distances for water. Why do we allow people to cause damage which we will be adversely affected by, when we can do something to save the situation? I ask myself this question.
No. I won’t sit down while people destroy our water bodies, and now define roles for women and girls to walk long distances for water, at the expense of their business, education and comfort. I won’t sit down while society tells women and girls to attend to the sick relatives because they are naturally good in care giving for the sick. We will change any impending social problem building up to affect women and girls.
I think it time for us to be proactive!