14 10 2007

Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink

I realise I’m very lucky.  The recent floods in northern Ghana have destroyed the homes and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people, and took some lives.  The way they have affected me is to remove something that would be considered a luxury by many of my fellow VSO volunteers – running water.  The area around the reservoir that supplies Tamale was badly hit, with damage to the pumping equipment.  As a result the supply of running water to Tamale is intermittent.

Water did flow this week, for a short while early Tuesday morning after a tropical storm, but I slept through it. I’m not sure whether that was planned or a result of the rain, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to get water each Tuesday morning, between midnight and 6am.  During those hours I’ll need to fill the dustbin and buckets that act as my local reservoir and put as much through my water filter as I can to get reserves of drinking water. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to shower, and wash my, by now manky, hair.

My water supply for a week consists of a dustbin full, plus a bucket.  With this I have to wash myself, my clothes and my dishes as well as flush the toilet and other general cleaning. My morning ablutions are carried out with about five mug-fulls of water to wash my entire body.  Given the hot and humid conditions here I may be a little more fragrant than I would be in London. The big users of water are flushing the toilet and doing laundry. It takes one bucketful to wash a load and one to rinse. That amount of water can be used to flush both toilets, so I need to coordinate my laundry and my bowels.

I buy drinking water. This gives me two reasons to avoid cooking at home (in addition to laziness and lack of talent).  It uses expensive drinking water and it creates washing up, which uses up vital cleaning water. By eating out I can also use the restaurants other facilities, thus further reducing my water requirement. Never one to need too many excuses to dine out I’m rocketing through my allowance at a fair pace.  Thank goodness for UK cash reserves and ATM machines in Tamale that let me access them.

The water situation is playing on my mind, although I know I’ll cope if I do run out – I should be able to buy some water from bowsers and kind neighbours have offered to help.  At the worst I may be able to check into a hotel for a short while, and cleanliness has never been as important to me as it is to some. Hopefully my landlord will finally install the large poly-tank that will hold the equivalent of several dustbin fulls of water and I will need to worry less.  Still, I was looking at my PfC notes and saw that I had written “running water” as one of my “must haves”. At the moment it seems less important.  The people here are wonderful, I have the chance of contributing something meaningful and life seems gentle and pleasant.




2 responses

17 11 2008
Water, revisted « Tim in Tamale

[…] November, 2008 by Tim Little When I first moved into my house here in Tamale I was plagued by water problems, or rather lack of water problems. Tamale is famous in Ghana for having an unreliable water supply […]

3 02 2013
Water « The Fat Worm

[…] climate they weren’t used to. For a variety of reasons (supply was a bit of an issue in my house) water became a bit of an obsession for me in […]

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