Organizing drinking water

voltic water

This is my first time actually living in Africa, and things like organizing drinking water have been a learning experience. Wikipedia says ” The lack of clean drinking water and sanitation systems is a severe public health concern in Ghana, contributing to 70% of diseases in the country.”  We have tap water, and are fortunate; it may not be safe to drink, but is fine for household issues. Relatives who lived in East Africa boiled and filtered water to get drinking water, but electricity is so expensive here (it just went up 57% in December!) that it is actually cheaper to buy water. At least that is what I was told.

Two of the big bottled water companies are Voltic and Bel-Aqua. The latter I tried to order from first; centrally, very helpful. However, I called the the delivery person for our area, who kept promising to call back, and never did…… so after five days I gave up and called Voltic. Super efficient. We ordered ten drums, which we think will last us about a month, then we just call and get refilled drums delivered.  Per December 2015, it costs 51.5 cedis for each drum of 18.9 litres (about 13.4 USD) and next time, the refill will be 6.5 cedis per drum, delivered, so about 1.7 USD each. The plastic drums are reusable, fortunately.

Normally you would have a water dispenser where the drum sits upside down, some even with cold and hot water, which looks very handy. We do not have a dispenser yet, and as the drums are 18.9 litres, it’s a bit bulky, but great to have lots of drinking water! It’s normally hot and humid here, but December-January it’s the harmattan, a dry dusty wind from the Sahara, so there is dust everywhere, and the city is hazy and even looks foggy from the dust. 
And yes, LOOK! It’s our Simonelli Italian espresso machine! Our small pile of boxes were delivered from Rome after weeks in customs, so after five weeks of Nescafe I am finally enjoying a decent cup of cappuccino in the morning, thanks to my lovely husband. In contrast to my quest for good coffee, many people here do not have access to basic sanitation or uncontaminated running water. We are fortunate that we can afford to get clean water delivered like this.

discarded water sachet

Those are discarded water sachets, which a lot of people reply on for drinking water. From a a really interesting article on this called The Cost of Pure Water, April 2015:  “In Ghana alone, 3,000 children under five years old die each year from waterborne illnesses transmitted through contaminated drinking water and poor sanitation. One study estimated that for every year lived in one urban Ghanaian neighbourhood, pathogens passed on in drinking water were taking back half a year of healthy life. […] Ghanaians have to balance their time, money and safety to determine where they will get a drink. Millions of them choose to get their water in 500-ml plastic sachets.”   See also this article from 2013:  and this new post from Practical Action: Nairobi’s informal water vendors: heroes or villains?  Like Nairobi, while almost all residents have access to a mobile phone network, very few have access to clean drinking water also here in Accra. It is such a modern city in some ways, and lacking such basic infrastructure in other ways. Lots for me to to learn.


2 thoughts on “Organizing drinking water

  1. dishnthekitchen

    Really, this is just shocking. Many of us Westerners really take water for granted. It’s so hard to understand that it’s part of the daily life struggle for those in developing countries.


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