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CEESD finds solution to Bongo's water crisis: the solar water distiller
                                                                                                             November 15, 2010
Background

The problem of dental fluorosis is endemic in the whole of Bongo district of Ghana as a result of high concentrations of fluoride ions in the underground water system, and caused by the nature of the bedrock formation. This has undoubtedly attracted many organizations to the area in search of a more sustainable solution to the problem, and also due to the fact that almost every person born and bred in Bongo is infected with dental flourosis. The seriousness of the problem is brought to bear when the people from the district mingle with other people from other regions. Their confidence level is eroded due to the unpleasant nature of the teeth which is discoloured. Apart from affecting their confidence level, children of school going age who cannot stand the ridicule from their peers drop out of school and as such their educational development is halted. It is thus not a wonder poverty is so endemic in the area.

Many organizations and interest groups have tried several ways of dealing with the problem, with some sinking boreholes only to cap them after test reveal high fluoride contamination. Meanwhile most of the local people depend mainly on hand dug wells and do not really mind about the fluoride concentration, only that they report of not too pleasant taste of the water even though it looks very clean. The people seem to know the effect of drinking water from their wells but have no other alternative to look up to. Children under the age of 5 years are the most vulnerable.

CEESDís intervention

On realizing that most approaches including the introduction of filtration techniques for fluoride removal were not yielding results, CEESD paid a visit to Bongo in order to assess the extent of the problem. After weeks of deliberations, CEESD came out with a locally adapted design of a solar distiller as the most promising way of mitigating the incidence of dental fluorosis especially among children below the age of fifteen.

The solar water facility is a technology that makes use of the sunís radiation to generate steam from impure water and subsequently condenses the steam into pure, distilled water. The solar water distiller purifies water by separating water from all contaminants including fluorides, salts, heavy metals, bacteria, arsenic, and nitrates in the impure water.

Support from Vodafone Ghana Foundation

Vodafone ghana foundation, world of differenceCEESD with support from Vodafone Ghana Foundation - through its World of Difference programme - installed and commissioned two models of solar water purifiers that provides over 25 litres per day of clean water for pupils at Anaafo Biisi primary school to serve about 120 pupils. Several tests conducted on the purified water at the Water and Sanitation Laboratory of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the Ghana Water Company Laboratory in Kumasi indicated a significant drop in fluoride contamination from an initial high concentration of 20.6 ppm in the untreated water to 0.75 ppm in the treated water, which is far lower than the WHO accepted limited limit of 1.5 pmm.

At the commissioning of the two facilities, the Chief of Anaafo Biisi, Naba Anyanebah Akolgo Saabo II was full of praise for CEESD and Vodafone Ghana Foundation, and went further to appeal for more of such units to be installed in the district since fluoride contamination is their greatest developmental challenge. 

CEESD hopes to build on the success of this initial project to install 100 more units in 120 selected households, and two basic schools in the 6 communities that make up Anaafo Biisi. In selecting beneficiary households, priority would be given to those with relatively high numbers of children under 5 years old. CEESD thus counts on the support of Vodafone Ghana Foundation and other donors to further extend the programme, and importantly train indigenous people in Bongo and surrounding communities in design, construction and operation of the solar water distiller.