Ghana Youth Environmental Movement (GYEM), a youth-led environmental organisation in Ghana has launched a project aimed at addressing water inequality in some of Accra’s urban poor communities. The project titled Kyensu, meaning ‘share water’ in Fante language, will be undertaken in Treba, a low-income peri-urban community in the Kutunse electoral area of Amasaman Constituency in the Ga West Municipality.
Speaking to the media about Kyensu, Gideon Commey, the project leader indicated that COVID-19 has exacerbated the systemic water inequality in the metropolis, and has increasingly burdened the urban poor who spend a large percentage of household income to procure water from the expensive informal water market. He explained that Kyensu will build a water kiosk in Treba, and provide the platform to social media users and the general public to share water with the residents. Mr. Commey highlighted that current disruptions, shortages and rationing of water in the city, have increased demand against supply, resulting in rising costs in communities that rely on water sold by private vendors.
The Assemblywoman of the Kutunse electoral area, Mrs Selina Avevor who received the GYEM team to meet community leaders, indicated that Kyensu is coming at the right time to build on the work she has done in the community to address the challenge. She added that the initiative by GYEM will assist to draw attention to the precarious water challenge in her electoral area, and bring more partners on board to scale up current efforts to provide water to every household in Treba and surrounding settler communities.
The project is being supported by the International Secretariat for Water (ISW), together with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and l’Agence de l’eau Artois-Picardie. Kyensu was selected by ISW as part of its call for solutions on water by young people throughout the world themed, “Global Youth Take Action”. This was launched in May 2020 and received 294 projects from over 50 countries, of which GYEM emerged as winners. This Global call according to ISW, “demonstrates that a growing number of young water leaders are ready to mobilize and propose innovative solutions for a peaceful and sustainable future”.
Research shows that Accra’s urban poor are disproportionately affected by the city’s unequal water access regimes. The Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), the city’s public water utility company is only able to meet 63% of the metropolis’ water demand. Majority of the piped connections are found in high-income households and wealthy neighborhoods. Most of the low-income areas found in informal settlements, slums and emerging peri-urban communities at the outskirts of Accra, have no access to the public utility piped water system.