The mission of this program is to partner with villages in the Ejura Sekyedumase District in Ghana, West Africa, on “global health engineering” projects focusing mainly on community drinking water and sanitation.
In 2009, the District population was reported to be 109,594 people dispersed among 125 communities with a large fraction residing in Ejura. The Officer in Charge of the District Hospital has articulated many of the reasons why this program is needed. For example, many communities in the District lack access to safe drinking water and are without proper resources for disposing of human excrement. These deficiencies have contributed to hundreds of documented cases of diarrhea and typhoid, and likely thousands of undocumented cases, in the District in 2009.
Our non-governmental partner, Self-Help International, based in Kumasi, Ghana, hosted a small University of Iowa team of students and faculty for a visit to Ejura and Kobriti (a village near Ejura) in January 2010. Self-Help also played an integral role during the recent EWB assessment trip of the village of Kobriti. For the purposes of our proposed program, Kobriti represents just one “typical” village that we seek to partner with in the Ejura Sekyedumase District. The need is great.
Kobriti has a population of approximately 500 people utilizing mud huts for shelter, without access to electricity and with access to only two community boreholes as drinking water sources. Village leaders expressed concern over seasonal variations in water quality that reportedly resulted in the growth of visible organisms in water storage vessels. It is likely that soil borne parasites are contaminating collected water that is stored in unsafe containers, but the village leaders have perhaps yet to make this potential association between causation and effect. Clearly, training and resources in household water treatment and safe storage would be beneficial in Kobriti.
The goal for our first proposed project is to promote and assist in the implementation of household water treatment and safe storage projects in Kobriti, Ghana. Diarrhea and typhoid are common illnesses in patients treated at the Ejura District hospital not far from Kobriti. The village leaders expressed concern over the presence of organisms in open air water storage containers they claim could be seen by the naked eye. Some health assessment data has been collected on the Ejura District, but we’re currently unsure if data exists for residents of Kobriti.
The Kobriti village is located about 20 minutes from the town of Ejura by road. It lies in a heavily wooded area. The population is approximately 500 individuals, in 70 households living on 0.4 square kilometers of land.
The population consists mostly of migrants – predominantly Muslim farmers - from the Northern regions of Ghana. While some of the villagers maintain their northern dialects, a vast majority are proficient in Twi, the language of the Ashanti region. Only a small percentage of the village is proficient in English, a majority of whom are teachers at the school.
The water in this community comes from two centrally located boreholes. Both boreholes tested negative for E. Coli presence in three different tests, in two different seasons of the year. The boreholes also tested negative for Arsenic. In this area, the main crops are plantain, cassava, yam, watermelon and maize. Most of the farmers are substance farmers, growing only what their family can eat. Most of the farming is done by hand, without the use of machinery or heavy equipment.
The village does not currently have electricity, but plans to connect the village are being made by the District authorities. The buildings are mostly made of mud, some with an internal wood frame made from tree branches. The roofs are primarily thatch, although some of the families have tin roofs. Currently about 130 students attend the Kobriti primary school, including students from Kobriti as well as the sister village. There are paved roads leading the entire way from this village to the district capitol of Ejura. The village is most assessable on Mondays when Ejura holds its market day.
The community is also located along some of the public transport routes and it is assessable by taxi. Located in Ejura is a health clinic that can provide health care, although it is limited in size and located 30 minutes by car from Kobriti. There is a smaller health clinic that is located in Sekyedumase, only 9 km from Kobriti. While these clinics exist, many people are reluctant to use them because they do not have health insurance. Health insurance cost GH¢18.00 for adults and GH¢4.00 for children (US$ 13.00 and US$3.00 respectively). While these costs seem small, they can be quite a lot for a farmer in this region.