Climate Change & Energy
Densu River confronts grave dangers from illegal mining, domestic pollution
Source: starrfm - October 19, 2023
In the heart of Ghana, a lifeline known as the Densu River meanders through breathtaking landscapes.
Sadly, this vital water source is under siege from an invisible threat of human activities.
Illegal mining, or galamsey, has become a pervasive issue along the Densu River.
These unlawful activities are not only ravaging the environment but also polluting the very waters that millions rely on.
But that’s not all. Human activities in communities along the river are contributing to the pollution.
Fecal matter and plastic waste contaminate the Densu River, posing significant health and environmental risks.
“The illegal mining activities in the Kyebi area are polluting the river. At first it wasn’t like that but now the river is seriously being polluted. Then again people dump rubbish into it, people openly defecate along the river but some residents fetch them for domestic use” a worried resident at Akwadum Community said.
The Densu River originates in the pristine Atewa Forest Reserve near Kibi, a source of immense natural beauty.
It flows for 116 kilometers spanning 11 districts and municipalities in three regions of Eastern, Central and Greater Accra before entering the Weija Reservoir and eventually the Gulf of Guinea through the Densu Delta Ramsar Site.
The Densu River serves as an important water source for more than five million people, with water treatment facilities in Koforidua, Apedwa, Nsawam, and Weija.
Since 2010, Ark Development Organization, a local NGO has been advocating for urgent measures to curb the growing pollution of the Densu River.
Recently, it took a community-based approach through the “Soccer for Sanitation Change” project, bringing together youth and community leaders to raise awareness and drive behavioral change to protect our rivers.
Emmanuel Kwarfo Minta, Executive Director Ark Development Organization after a recent assessment of the Densu River decried the extent of pollution.
“Densu is crying for help. The river is being polluted at an alarming rate. Looking at the situation something must be done urgently to save the river .So I am appealing to the water resources commission, the Eastern Regional Minister and all stakeholders to take immediate steps to address the pollution of the Densu River. Now Birim is gone, Densu is the only river left to serve the Eastern region and Greater Accra region so if it is polluted like this then it will be a disaster. We don’t have a substitute for water so where are we going to get water,” he lamented.
In a recent interview, Dr. Ronald Abraham Chief Basin Officer, Water Resources Commission a state organization responsible for protecting water bodies in Ghana, called for re -engineering of towns closer to the Densu River and relocate facilities such houses Lorry terminals and markets from the river to curb the increasing pollution.
“Our forefathers, when there were very limited numbers, set up their communities around water bodies. But it is about time as our population grows rapidly around here we give the water bodies space. So we must be happy to find space to relocate the markets we should also find space to relocate the lorry stations and any other activity around there. People running toilet facilities should be asked to take them off because what they do repeatedly is to pump the fecal matter into the stream but as you said earlier nature absorbs all these kind of things and by the time the river gets to Weija lake it is clean”.
Safeguarding freshwater bodies is not just a local concern; it’s also an international obligation.
The sustainable development goals related to water and sanitation require countries like Ghana to protect and preserve these essential resources for human consumption.
The Densu river