Effects of water quality on rural livelihoods: a case of Tamale Metropolis
Water quality issues are a challenge in both developed and developing countries, which affects the people who depend on it. This study aimed at examining the quality of water sources used by the residence of 18 rural areas in Tamale Metropolis and their effects on their livelihoods. This was done by collecting water samples from four different sources used by residents: hand-dug wells, boreholes, Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) household tap and dam for laboratory analysis for both dry and rainy seasons. Furthermore, selected respondents from 18 communities in rural Tamale in the Northern region of Ghana who depend on these water sources were interviewed to examine the effect of the water sources on their livelihoods. From the findings, almost all households have access to at least 2 of these water sources with 51 percent of households storing water due to the lack of year-round water. The water quality test also shows that apart from water provided by the GWCL which passed the standard for physico-chemical parameters; dam, well, and borehole test results for colour (10.9-105.0 Hz), turbidity (23.5-226.0 NTU) and iron (0.35-1.99 mg/l) fell beyond the recommended range set by World Health Organization. No water source could meet the bacteriological requirements with a total (7-1910 CFu) and faecal (7-1200 CFu) coliforms content increasing in the rainy season. Seventy-three (73) percent of households reported sharing water with animals and 41 percent perceived to drink from unclean sources. Additionally, 70 percent indicated an increase in diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea while 90 percent responded that the cost of getting quality or potable water and attending for healthcare affects their household income. The overall implication is that the effect of poor water quality on the livelihoods of rural residence in Tamale Metropolis is significant and requires urgent intervention.
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