Bongo groundwater defluoridation project: Water supply challenges


Long queue with students waiting in turn to fill their containers with wate

After attending The VIA Water Summit in Accra in November 2017, IHE representative Dr. Abdulai Salifu, visited the Bongo District and participated in the kick-off meetings with Ghanaian partners, namely the Bongo District Assembly, and In GOD We Trust Enterprise (IGWTE). Roles and deliverables for each partner were discussed and agreed and contracts for their contribution to the project were subsequently signed. Visits were made to potential borehole sites where pilot filters will be installed. In addition, groundwater samples were taken for analysis at IHE Delft laboratory.

Visits to various sections of the Bongo town revealed that safe drinking water is a critical need of the population of Bongo. Long queues (see Fig.) were observed at the Bongo Senior High School, where students were waiting in turn to collect water from the few operational boreholes.

While the number of operational boreholes were inadequate to serve the population, successfully drilled boreholes have been capped, presumably due to presence of excess fluoride in the water.
The extent of the problem with fluoride presence in drinking water, in addition to adverse effect on health, was vividly described by a graduate teacher Mr. Douglas Mba from Bongo, who had some of the following to say about the fluoride problem:

- School children from Bongo with dental fluorosis easily drop out from school due to stigmatization, and bullying by their colleagues in other parts of Ghana, where dental fluorosis is not an issue. This therefore has a negative impact on the education of the children and their future wellbeing. Those who remain in school, are not able to ask questions in class and/or seek clarification in areas they do not understand and this affects their academic performance;

- People with dental fluoriosis are considered to not be cleaning their teeth well which is a constant cause of embarrassment. They are occasionally insulted as dirty by people from other parts of Ghana

- Almost anybody born and raised in Bongo has dental fluorosis and potential parents sometimes consider giving birth and raising their children outside the Bongo district.

- They often use large amounts of tooth paste to brush their teeth, hoping to solve the problem of the brownish nature of the teeth, but this does not work.

- Mr. Douglas Mba (himself is a victim of mild to severe dental fluorosis) re-counted his own embarrassments he had to go through while he was a student at the University in the southern part Ghana. Some of his colleague student ladies used to insult about his brown dirty teeth in a dialect they thought he could not understand.