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Water is Life: It’s a Two Way Street

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We came from water. Or so science claims. The first living organism, which evolved and diversified in species and produced what is now mankind, came from water.

Water accounts for the make-up of 75% of the human body. It’s the base/medium for ALL bodily fluids and I’d like to see how your blood would send that precious oxygen to parts of your body if that volume were reduced to 40% let alone zero. I hate to imagine if soil was to be the centre of life (can you imagine sand running through your veins? or molten larva like the pyro guy in “Ben10”?!). And Air? I suddenly have a funny image in my mind of a human being consisting solely of skin and air. In my mind I see him inflate on the intake of air and deflate on the out lol. Water eats the cake, my dears and has it too 🙂

A fit person can go about four to six weeks without food (and some hardcore religious people have shown they can go waaaaaay longer) so long as they have water. Try going for just a week without water though and let’s see how long you have left for this earth.

How many babies jump straight to eating solid foods? NONE!!! These tiny beings have no teeth and cannot chew and for so many other reasons, their meal (breast milk or formula) is fluid based. That fluid? Of course it’s water!!! 88% of breast milk is made up of water. And Amniotic fluid? The stuff that cushions and nourishes your unborn baby? You know, protects it from external shocks; allows nutrients to pass from mother to child? Hello? 50-70% I think my point has been made.

Virtually everyone knows water is for cooking, drinking and cleaning and for generating energy. We all know the agricultural value of water but how many of us think of transportation? In some parts of Ghana, especially during the rainy/flooding seasons, you’ll find that boat/canoe is the only available method of transportation. Once dry paths become waterlogged and its not rare to find people moving to and from their jobs on water vessels.

I yearn to stroll the streets of Venice, and to drag my hand through the waters of its canals while I enjoy a magical moonlit gondola ride, (I’m still a hopeless romantic, no matter how pessimistic I pretend to be) and perhaps one day I shall follow Mrs. Bucket and take a trip on the QEII. For millennia, water crafts have been used for transportation and permit activities such as fishing. How many offshore oil drills have been set up over the past lord knows how many years? How were those giant monstrosities set up?

Did you know that people build houses on water? Perhaps you have heard of Nzulezu? It’s a village in the Western Region of Ghana where the people have their houses on stilts on Lake Tadane. An entire village on water!!! In Benin, on the river Nokoue, and in some parts of Thailand, you will find this is common. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what these people subsist on and I for one marvel at the way they interact with their environment.

Remember the really fine Chinese silk? The kind they used to clothe their emperors in? Contrary to most people’s beliefs, silk isn’t grown on trees like cotton is. It’s spun from the cocoons of the silkworm. And the trick to growing gorgeous cocoons is to feed and water the silk worms regularly. The water required is the clean, fresh mineral water from their vestal lake, streams and pools. Sadly, with industrialisation, not only is it difficult to find people willing to practice this ancient craft, but the pure water used to water the worms is no longer well, pure. Factory run-offs now pollute those water bodies and it seems we’ve lost a fine art.

Oh, I shouldn’t forget to mention the fun things we do with water. The snorkelling and skiing and swimming and omg DIVING!!! I yearn to visit Water World and play with the seals and dolphins. Oooh and to kiss a killer whale….as always, I digress. And the religious uses, all those purificaton rights!!!

Physiotherapists prescribe water exercises for a lot of their patients. Soaking in a hot tub is guaranteed to soothe your aches and pains and a lot of women these days are opting for water births. I have my reservations about the safety of these for the baby but am in total agreement with the fact that it eases the delivery for the mother. Swimming is recommended for a full body work out and I’ve been told several times to start swimming to strengthen my back muscles and to help with re-aligning my spine (good luck with getting me back in the water). There’s so much more you could do with water that I haven’t covered!!!

Water covers 70.9% of the earth’s surface but did you know that over a billion of the world’s population has no access to clean water? 97% of the water is saline water in the seas and oceans. 2.4% is locked up , frozen, in the icecaps, 1.6% in underground water and about 0.6% is in streams, lakes, rivers etc. The entire earth’s population of animals (including humans) relies on this 0.6%. In the less developed countries, people have to travel great distances to collect and store water of poor quality for their day to day activities, leaving them exposed to all sorts of diseases, infections and dangerous animals (I include some humans in this category.)

I fully believe that the next world war will be fought over access to water, and not oil. In Ghana for instance, even in the major cities, you will be hard pressed to find someone who has water flowing regularly in their residence. Storage tanks and reservoirs have become essential to the ghanaian household and people pay loads of money to have water delivered to their homes. If this is the situation in the major cities, then can you imagine what people in the rural areas have to contend with?

Lack of clean drinking water exposes people to  water/sanitation related diseases. These pictures were taken in a part of Ghana. The water body pictured (it’s a conduit from a dam) is known to be a breeding ground for the vector of schistosomiasis and yet it’s the only open source of water for miles. Boreholes sunk in the area proved to be no better, as it was discovered that the mineral content in the water was too high for consumption. A few of the boreholes were declared safe for drinking and its not uncommon to see people leaving one village and walking for miles to fetch clean water for their cooking needs.
You can imagine however the risks they still face, as they still turn to the water from the river for their cleaning and agricultural activities. These women were washing vegetables in their bare feet. They’re easy prey for the agents of schisto unlike the consumers who are at NO risk (by the time the veggies get to us, the agents are long gone). Thankfully, with education, they are now aware of the risks involved and hopefully the next time I see this, the women will be wearing Wellington boots and thick gloves to protect themselves.

Did you know that Ghana has a water policy?, I certainly didn’t. I discovered the Ghana Water Resources Commission and from the state of their website (it’s not been updated in ages!) I’ve concluded for now, that they’re either really busy (too busy to let us know what they’re up to) or not very effective.

Water acts like a double edged sword from time to time and becomes even more nasty when mankind decides to mess with it. If you’ve ever slipped or fallen asleep in a bathtub, been carried out to sea or nearly drowned in a pool, you have my sincerest sympathies. I almost drowned some years back and have only gotten in a swimming pool once since. I learned not to play with that particular sword and now have a new respect for it. Remember the Tsunami in Indonesia a couple years ago? All those sunken ships with their bellies loaded with treasure? Who could forget the titanic, or the damage dealt to New Orleans when Katrina hit? Yes, it giveth and taketh, and most of us would rather be collecting from water than giving back.

Earth scientists believe quite strongly that global warming and climate change is contributing to ecological disasters such as the flooding in Pakistan. The ice caps are melting!!! And not into your streams and rivers, No. They’re melting into the oceans and the effects are astronomical! If you’ve been to Keta, you may have noticed the sea defense project. Hundreds of people have lost property in that area. I have an aunt who was struggling to keep her home from greedy in laws. She laughs bitterly now and tells them to go dig the land from the sea. If you’re one of those people poo pooing climate change, ask yourself why it no longer hails in the Eastern Region of Ghana, and why The Osu castle is at risk of disappearing. We need to take a page from the good people of Holland and build better defences if we want to continue to live along the present coast of Ghana.

A major source of drinking water is the collection of rainwater/ precipitation. My grandfather, before water was connected to his home, used to collect and filter rain water for all his domestic needs. I wouldn’t recommend that now. A result of Industrialization we now have to contend with Acid Rain. Rain/precipitation is essential for the renewal of that 0.6% of non saline water. Now imagine the effects on agriculture and property when the rain itself is poisonous and corrosive? And the runoffs that enter our streams and rivers before making their way to our taps? Polluted water (through our own fault) from our sewage and factory wastes is going to be the death of us.

If you’ve never lived in an area where water is scarce to come by, odds are you waste this precious product. I asked myself what I could do to cut down on water consumption some years back and I stick to them like glue. Hopefully, now you know why it’s so important, you’ll also learn to conserve it. And in the case of people paying an arm and a leg, (like I do) for water to be delivered, you can actually save yourself some money.

Do you need that shower or Jacuzzi? Would it not be better to use a bucket so you can cut down on the quantity you utilise? I use a bucket and on the odd weekend, I take one relaxing bubble bath to relax my muscles. It’s my guilty pleasure which I combine with my physiotherapist’s advice but once I take up swimming, I’m sure I’ll rule it out completely.

Instead of letting the water run while you do dishes, perhaps you could fill the sink with warm water and leave it for the duration of your mealtime until everyone is done washing their plate. And when you brush your teeth, please use a cup or glass, or remember to shut off the tap between rinses. I’ve seen people leave the tap running while they brush. It’s a senseless waste 🙁

Wash your car from a bucket, not a hose. I give mine a good cleaning at a washing bay on occasion, when I need to have the bonnet and undercarriage flushed out, but daily cleaning involves a bucket and large duster. NO laundry detergent!!! It ruins your paint job! Get a car shampoo if you really want to see lather or buy yourself some wax.

One thing you can do is, instead of watering your garden with a hose, save your laundry water. Let it rest and scoop off the scumm from the top and drain off the clear water for watering your garden. And you can collect your rain water for this purpose also. It all starts from YOU. Conserve water today.

You know how it is when you have so much to say and such little time to do it, well that’s the case here. Some of my fellow bloggers have said what I’d like to about the importance of clean drinking water and why we should make it accessible to everyone. Benjamin Anyan writes beautifully and I love what he has to say about the topic.And you should check out Nana Kofi Acqua’s gorgeous descriptives. I’ll keep updating FYI.

And now that I’m finally fed up of rambling, I’ma stop here. More in my next post 🙂

Yes, I know it’s a day late but better late than never, eh? I dunno what’s going on with blogger but my preview looks nothing like the final product,  Edited this stuff a million times to make it passable grr

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  1. I like this post.
    I also believe if a world war takes place, it will be over water.
    Unfortunately, i don’t know if there are studies on alternatives to water or how to get water from other sources.
    I think i have been practicing conservation of water for so long that it is second nature, but i always feel there are other ways which i have not yet discovered.
    Oh goodness, my future home is going to be so expensive to build! I have too many plans. 🙂

    October 16, 2010
  2. now this is surely better written Daixy, the delay was def. worth it!

    October 17, 2010
  3. TETEKAI!!!! *glomps* We’re in agreement then.

    I know of NO studies on alternatives to water. I think it’s pretty much been concluded that there’s nothing that can replace it. Aside from praying for more rains to renew our diminishing resources, or figuring our how to desalinate our seawater, there’s nothing that we can do but to conserve what we got.

    You and me both, dear, you and me both. We better make sure we get rich so we can afford it lol

    October 18, 2010
  4. @ Anyan. You read my diatribe!!! You flatter me, dear and leave me at a loss for words.

    Thanks for dropping by 🙂

    October 18, 2010
  5. Well, whatever your deadline was, this piece would cause eye-openers all year round. Only you could put up a piece on something so taken for granted and totally turn it around. This was long, but highly informative. Picked up a couple of hints and ideas for Chez Green (my future hermitage)

    And I think you hit it on the head, Dai… WW3 is gonna be fought over water. 😛

    October 27, 2010
  6. I know places like Hong Kong have desalination plants to make sea water drinkable.

    On second thought how about collecting the water that drip from ACs in our various offices. At my former office we were harvesting at least two buckets of water a day from the ACs to flush the lav.

    At my grandparents’ house at Mankessim there used to be a big drum to harvest rain water from the roof any time it rained.

    What we see in modern Accra is communities flooded while the individual household lack water for domestic use. Ironic isn’t it.

    November 5, 2010

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