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Water Resources Commission: Coronavirus, Water And Climate Change

By Patricia Etornam Hlorbu
A Flooded Village In Ghana
LISTEN MAR 26, 2020
A Flooded Village In Ghana

As the world's largest natural resource, water plays a central part in sustaining ecosystems and life on earth. Climate change impacts water resources and affects many sectors of the economy in many nations.

The strategic importance of water for global food security will intensify under climate change, as more frequent and intense climate extremes (droughts and floods) increase variability in precipitation, soil moisture, and surface water. Furthermore, the possible opportunities and challenges of using and sustaining water resources in climate variation strategies, and highlight the lack of water observations, which, at present, limits our understanding of the dynamic relationship between water and climate.

Water is a universal source of living and promotes widespread development, which can be scaled and localized to demand, removing the need for considerable infrastructure. Globally, one-third of all withdrawals are for supplying domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes.

In many environments such as Ghana, natural water (rainfall) discharges sustain base flow to rivers, lakes, and wetlands. Despite these vital contributions to human welfare and aquatic ecosystems, a scarcity of studies on the relationship between climate and water severely restricts the ability of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to assess interactions between water and climate change in both its third and fourth assessment reports.

There has since been a marked rise in published research applying local- to global-scale modelling, as well as ground-based and satellite monitoring, which has considerably enhanced our understanding of interactions between water and climate.

Influence of climate on water systems

Climate variability and change influences water systems both directly through replenishment by recharge and indirectly through changes in water use. These impacts can be modified by human activity such as land-use change.

The fight against coronavirus

Globally, water is leading the fight and struggle against the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) as the first and foremost preventive measure is to wash hands with soap under running water. Homes and industries have resorted to using water in creating pharmaceutical and domestic antidotes to curb the global pandemic as described by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Interestingly the efficient use of water can aid in its long-term use by discouraging the abuse of water. In the wake of this global pandemic, keeping water clean, safe and sharing with the less privileged can be heartwarming, generous and astonishing than a pot of Gold.

Public opinion on Coronavirus, water and Climate Change

A survey on coronavirus, water and climate change on WhatsApp users was interactive, as they gladly shared their basic opinion and understanding on the subject matter, and some of their comments are as follows:

The effect of climate change on water levels, due to the increasing records of global temperatures, the ice and glaciers found at the temperature regions like Antarctica keep melting thereby increasing the volumes of the various seas and oceans of the world.

Per the weather of Africa and Ghana for that matter, we are supposed to be experiencing northeasterly winds blowing from the Sahara but that’s changed due to the change in a climate so we are experiencing southwesterly winds blowing from the Atlantic Ocean, thereby having some records of rain in this season.

Technically we would record high groundwater levels due to the influx of rain. And for the coronavirus, I think global warming has positively affected the African continent with respect to the virus because of the fact that above certain temperatures the virus cannot survive thereby making it very potent in temperature regions. A naval officer explained.

For climate change, I believe that rising daily temperatures is a testament to climate change, last year, for example, was one of the hottest years in the history of the Earth. Even in Ghana, you would notice that sunshine intensity has increased, the harmattan period intensity and length has also changed. Harmattan used to start showing up in October. Now we have to wait till later parts December or January. How much stress can be put on how important water is?

A basic requirement for human survival and in the same vein theirs not 100% potable water coverage in Ghana. On the other hand, our water sources are getting polluted at an alarming rate. Higher rates of water pollution imply increased cost of treating water to make it portable. But safe and reliably supplied. At least water should be readily available to the user 90% of the time. Which is not the case especially in urban areas. A civil engineer explained.

A change in the elements of climate over a long period of time, elements like rainfall, temperature humidity of which water bodies are largely affected, as for coronavirus, let’s try our possible best to keep safe by God’s grace this too shall be over. A beauty queen shared her thoughts.

Okay, so I know climate change has to do with shift or changes in weather patterns, for instance, there are months where we supposed to see rains but instead, we would still be in harmattan. God will surely take coronavirus away from us. A water user shared her opinion

Looking forward

Even though as it stands, there are prescribed punishment for people who engage in water pollution such as illegal mining, illegal falling of trees, sand winning and oil exploration among others, the punishment should be enhanced to deter people from engaging in such activities, in most cases regulatory bodies such as the Water Resources Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Minerals Commission and the Forestry Commission should impose huge fines on offenders for them to adhere to strict environmental measures to maintain our water bodies and the environment.

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