From a small alleyway in between the cracked mud houses at Oshiuman, little Oko races to the front of a nearby hut supported on a couple of twisted sticks.
The three-year-old boy squats by a bucket of brownish water and thrushes his face into it, drinks for a few seconds and belches noisily.
He’s one of the over five hundred residents of Oshiuman who are now grappling with a serious water shortage.
Oshiuman is an indigenous Ga community in the Ga West Municipality of the Greater Accra Region, now caught up in the urban sprawl – but the lack of potable water in the village seems to have reached a crisis level.
On the outskirts of the village is a pond, the size of a basketball court. The water in this pond is brownish sludge, literally; muddy water surrounded by the footsteps and dung of cows. It’s called the Kpoyoo Dzor and it’s one of the main sources of water for the people here.
“We’re always getting sick when we drink this water. In fact we’ve made several appeals for help but none has yielded any result. Our grandparents dug this dam for us but we’ve had to share with cattle,” Nii Asafoakye, a youth leader in the area, told JoyNews.
The other source of water for people in the community is the polluted Nsaki River, known to be the source of many water-borne diseases in the village.
A JoyNews documentary in 2011 which highlighted the plight of the people secured some intervention. A busload of laboratory scientists from the Ghana Biomedical Scientists Association moved in to screen and treat the residents.
The Ga West District Assembly also constructed a borehole for them. But the residents are unable to use the water because it tastes "salty". Most of them have returned to their old source of water – the pond and the Nsaki stream.
It’s a situation that puts the lives of many of these residents, including 3-year-old Oko, at risk.
Under a cluster of neem trees Oko’s mother turns the bulk of banku in a metal pot set on a red switch stove made of clay.
“Why do you allow your child to drink contaminated water?” “I don’t know”
“You don’t know?” “I know it’s not good but I have no choice.”
Left out in MCE’s plan
The Ga West Metropolitan Assembly has plans of building boreholes for ten communities in the area but Oshiuman is clearly left out.
The assembly only hopes to distribute water filters to the community people. Chief Executive of the Ga West Municipal Assembly, Sam Atuquei Quaye, said the assembly would consider a project to help treat the “salty” water from borehole in the community by a process of reverse osmosis.
However, that’s not a plan to see the light of day any time soon because “it’s expensive.”