Suma Ahenkro, Ghana 2014 - Water Supply Project

Background

Suma Ahenkro is an agricultural community of approximately 8000 people located in western Ghana. Situated in the Brong Ahafo region, the town lies two miles east of the border with Ivory Coast. Most members of the community live off of the equivalent of less than $1.50 per day. The town is home to one secondary school, Sumaman Senior High School, which enrolls nearly 750 students.
 
The Suma Ahenkro, Ghana program officially started in <strong>May 2014 </strong> when EWB-USA approved EWB-UMCP’s request to partner with the community. In an effort to bring positive change to Suma Ahenkro, EWB-UMCP is collaborating with the non-governmental organization (NGO) Changing Lives Together Inc. and the leadership of Sumaman Senior High School. Through this initiative, the school hopes to improve the academic performance of its pupils, ultimately increasing the number of students sent to tertiary institutions. 
 
EWB-UMCP’s first project involved the implementation of a solar energy project. The school experiences blackouts averaging six to ten hours per day. Some of these outages last upwards of 24 hours. Students could not study at night. In response, EWB-UMCP designed a solar power system to establish a more reliable source of electricity to two classroom blocks on campus. The project is being implemented in multiple phases, with the project set to be complete on the next trip.
 

The Need

For the next project in the Suma Ahenkro, Ghana program, EWB-UMCP will work with the community to establish a reliable water supply for the school. The school currently sources its water from the community water supply, which often shuts off without warning, leaving the school without water. In cases where the water is off, students must walk to a stream two and a half miles away to fetch unpotable water. This five mile roundtrip trek cuts into students’ school time, frequently making students late for class. On top of the reliability issues, the community water supply costs the school approximately the equivalent of $6000 per year in utilities fees, money which could be spent on educational materials.

The EWB-UMCP Response

EWB-UMCP is continuing its partnership with the Suma Ahenkro community to develop a reliable, inexpensive water supply for Sumaman Senior High School. In January 2016, EWB-UMCP sent a team of six students, one professional mentor, and one faculty adviser to Suma Ahenkro to implement the solar power project and assess the community for the water supply project. The team sourced materials, collected GPS points, examined school water sources and usage, tested water quality, and met with community contacts who provided the team with a better understanding of the water situation in the area. After collecting data and speaking with the school’s leadership, it was decided that the water supply project would consist of water source development, a pump, a storage tank, and a treatment system. This system would augment, if not entirely replace, the school’s current water supply.

Moving Forward

This spring semester, the Ghana project team will begin work on an alternatives analysis for the various parts of the design. In consultation with the community, the team will evaluate options for sourcing the water, powering the pump, and treating the water.