Clean water is life but threatened by Galamsey

Water is an essential nutrient that is crucial for the development and well-being of the individual. Appearing one of the six essential nutrients for the system, we need water for good health as we get older.

The human body is made up of 60% water and the surface of the earth contains about 70% water, this means that we cannot do or live without water.

The blood the keeps up going is about 90% water. Do you know drinking water helps in proper functioning of the kidney, helps the skin from wrinkling and also helps in weight loss.

Benefits of drinking clean water

Kidney damage prevention

Drinking enough portable water daily or fluid helps prevent kidney damage. Water helps to bring out all unwanted substances and materials deposited in the body through urine, sweat and faces.

Cools down temperature of the body

Water helps the body temperature to cool down regularly. When there is too little water in the body system, bodily movements like walking, talking, reading, singing and performing house chores generate heat for the body to store. Stored heat increases body temperature over time especially when activities are still ongoing but drinking water will not only cools down temperature but also rehydrate the body.

Saliva production

Drinking enough water is essential in saliva production that assist the individual in grinding and digestion of food particles. Although all forms of food need saliva to grind but some food requires more saliva and mucus production to break them down into the ideal for easy swallow, and also for digestion after food particles get into the stomach. Saliva and mucus level are impacted by intake of water and drinking enough water will increase one’s saliva in the mouth.

Low saliva leading to dryness in the mouth will make grinding, swallow and digestion of food difficult. However, drinking more water is more likely to alleviate the following eating difficulties. Drinking water boost the eye and spinal cord functioning by way of lubrication.

Where do we get water from?

This question raise awareness on source of water that varies at individual, family, community and country levels. Sources of water for the individual, family, community and a country differ but hold a large common source, thus water bodies. There are three broad sources of water, earth’s surface water, rainwater and underground water.

While many individuals, households, communities and nations depend on earth’s surface and underground water- that is converted into pipe borne water for survival, rainfall also appears a major source of drinking water for many African communities including Ghana due to its rich natural nutrients containment, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium and Sodium. In fact many traditional and religious homes use rainwater for curing spiritual illness.

Examples of water bodies on earth as sources of water supply for drinking, domestic chores, construction purposes, farming, irrigation etc. are pipe borne water, streams, ponds, dams, lakes and rivers. As human survival becomes a necessity overtime, protection and preservation of consumable water- that is estimated 1/3 of fresh water- become a major societal and governmental priority. This 1/3 are shared into agricultural, industrial, recreational, household and other environmental purposes in Ghana.

While Ghana was once well recognized as natural-water-endowment guru, illegal mining activity popularly known as “Galamsey” began to threat water bodies including those drinkable sources. This means the ecosystem is in danger which can turn to hamper economic progress of the country in the future.

Ghana’s most hated but balanced term ‘Galamsey’

Arguably, the term Galamsey is the most hated term in Ghana over the last two decades due to its effects on the natural environment or ecosystem- i.e water bodies, farm systems-cocoa production, forestry and plant species destruction.

Although Galamsey is not a new thing in Ghana but it has expanded in the last twenty years resulting mainly from a phenomenon of Chinese influx. Many Chinese nationals have come to Ghana to dig the land for Gold and other precious minerals. The West African country have be on the road to prevent perpetrators from digging its land for Gold mineral.

In attempt to fight Galamsey, Chinese Galamsey queen Aisha Huang was captured- after escaping prosecution in Accra and deported to her country origin in 2018 along with four other Chinese nationals. However, Ghana’s deportation move has been heavily criticised by pressure groups who suggested however that the  Aisha Huang should have been arrested and jailed to deter subsequent Galamsey operators especially those of foreign origins.

Speaking on Citi TV‘s Point of View on September this year, the leading member of pressure group OccupyGhana Ace Ankomah who side as a Legal Practitioner, argued that the decision to deport Aisha Huang negatively impacted the government’s fight against Galamsey.

“They allowed her to go (for free). Today, she is back because we did not jail her. We did not even give the court the opportunity to free her. The day we let her go was the day we lost the fight against galamsey.”

Aisha Huang re-arrived in Ghana at the beginning of the year acquiring a Ghana card in February 2022 with a new name Huang En that raises questions about government’s strictness in battling Galamsey, and experts believe Ace Ankomah was hugely right on his judgment that Ghana’s have lost in fight against Galamsey.

Aisha Huang together with three Chinese Jong Li Hua, Huang Jei and Huiad Hiahu have been arrested in September 2022 and faced a potential Ghanaian jail following assurance from Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Samuel Abu Jinapor. “If she is found guilty, which I am sure of, giving the facts that I have, I am expecting that she will be sentenced and thrown into Ghanaian jail.”
“That has been made possible because of the substantive legislative intervention that the government of Akufo-Addo has put in place.”
“If we had not initiated the legal instrument, a judge would have had the discretion to fine. There’s nothing government could have done about it.”

Galamsey has partly dealt with Ghana’s unemployment problems, aided job creation, boosted investment and foster international relations, and is putting food on the tables of rural families. With its slow-killer importance, Galamsey pose a major threat to Ghana for today, the future and generations to come if it’s not stopped or find the best ways of making illegal mining flourish.

With its imposed threats, there has been a campaign from the government, religious leaders and traditional sources to curb Galamsey in what has become a hate approach for the life threatening activity but its benefits have cemented love for from rural people, Galamsey site owners and operators positioning Galamsey balanced in the battle against illegal mining with more people hoping it’s allowed while other majority hoping it’s finally stopped. Support and love from rural areas and site owners is undoubtedly one of the reasons why efforts to stop Galamsey haven’t succeeded at its expected level though concerns especially the government continue to receive support for its agenda against Galamsey.

In April last year, Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG) leader Kofi Akpaloo urged Nana Akufo-Addo’s government to focus on communities with river bodies if it’s to defeat illegal mining. He stated the government should form a task-force to oversee the protection of communities where there are river bodies.

Akpaloo’s support is underlined by the belief that destroying quality of water threatens human life as he simply put ‘drinking contaminated water (from Galamsey) will kill you’.

“We always say water is life but I don’t believe it. I say good quality water is life because if you drink dirty contaminated and polluted water, you will die and this is what we need to protect,” he said on Accra-based Kingdom FM via Pulse Ghana.

The fight against Galamsey that has somehow been politised cannot be won in isolation from the media and the general public whose push will strengthen government and in return depress site owners and employed people at Galamsey sites. Amid this above, Mr. Abu Jinapo has warned over politicisation of this agenda stating the importance of opposition parties in the fight against Galamsey.

“We cannot come to grips with these issues if they continue to be politicized and exploited by political parties for their personal gains. It cannot be right in the face of all of these challenges for opposition party leaders to say, if you vote us into power, we will release all jailed illegal miners and allow you to mine,” he said during the 40th anniversary celebration of the Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources (FRNR) at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) via Angel Online.

He added that “likewise it cannot be right if ruling party leaders put their political or economic fortunes ahead of this fight. This fight must be above partisan politics. It must be a national fight and it requires our collective efforts to win this noble struggle of ours.”

Mr. Jinapor also blamed chiefs, DCEs among other authorities for being complacent in the fight to uproot illegal mining.
In his view, “no one can bring a chain saw to harvest rosewood in the forest or an excavator to mine in the bush, to work on river bodies in the community without the knowledge or passive approval somehow of the chief, elders, the assemblymen, opinion leaders and local authorities in the community.”

Notable rivers destructed by Galamsey

The Head of Communications at the Ghana Water Company, Steve Mantey on the Citi Breakfast Show in 2017, gave an overview of water bodies in the some regions that have been polluted by illegal mining activities.

  • Eastern region- River Pra, Daboase, Birim and River Ankobra
  • Western Region- River Butre
  • Greater Accra- Densu River
  • Upper West Region- Black Volta
  • Ashanti Region- Enu River, River Offin
  • Northern Region- Nawuni River
  • Brong Ahafo Region- Akantansu, Sintim and others

Giving a vivid description of the state of the Birim River, Mr. Mantey said “We have an old treatment plant in Kyebi which is not automated. Unfortunately the cause of the Birim is diverted and totally destroyed such that we cannot even see the waterway so you can imagine the state of the Birim now.”

In Brong Ahafo Region, the situation is even worse where residents have, according to Mr. Mantey, blocked the “course of the river at certain intervals such that the water is unable to flow into some areas.” This situation is particularly rife in Sunyani.
“Recently we all heard of the lack of water in Sunyani. It was not as a result of equipment but it was as a result of farming activities. They had blocked the river course to irrigate their farms.”

This challenge has compelled the Ghana Water Company to construct a borehole which will serve small communities.
Drinking water has been destroyed by Galamsey after water bodies been budded, poised by chemicals and experience dryness. Most aquatic habitats and species are endangered.

Health conditions for drinking contaminated water

  • Typhoid
  • Low abdominal pain
  • Cholera
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach pain
  • Dysentery
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea

Long term effects of drinking contaminated water

  • Blindness
  • Birth defects
  • Impotency
  • Kidney failure
  • Cancer
  • Death

Drinking polluted water is like putting poison into one’s food which threatens health and well-being. Since water is a demand we cannot run away from, there is the need to protect and preserve Ghana’s water bodies.

But with Galamsey being the main “Castro”, the destroyer, government should be strict in its efforts to stop the illegal activity. The media, political parties and citizens are all responsible in fighting Galamsey.


-This reporting is contributed by Tiana Evelyn


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