Potable water, as it is often said is life.
The lack of it affects all the spheres of human activity - health, social, education, agriculture, politics and economics.
The lack of this essential commodity makes life meaningless.
Its importance can only be equated to air.
The difficulty in accessing water in Sissala Communities has made young girls and women to ask suitors about the availability of potable water in their communities before accepting their proposals.
If the suitor's community does not have its own water source, they would want to know the distance from the nearest potable water source and if it is far, they would most likely to turn down the proposals.
They would also find out whether the community their lovers are coming from are good farmers and could produce enough food to feed their people.
The accessibility to clean water and food production are the determining factors for winning the love of many a young girl in the area.
The reason for this is that the people in the communities are predominately farmers and any time lost in search of water by women will not be tolerated by their husbands, who would need their assistance on the farms.
These revelations came to light at a forum on water and sanitation held in Funsi in the Wa East District of Upper West Region, recently.
Madam Adiata Marifa, a house wife from the Gbantala, told the forum that young men in the village were finding it difficult to get wives to marry because the community does not have potable water source nearby, in spite of numerous attempts by water agencies to provide potable water have failed.
The people have been continuously drinking from unsafe water sources, such as ponds, rivers and streams and during the dry season women in the community have to walk long distance daily basis to fetch water leaving their domestic chores unattended to.
Madam Marifa said many of the women in the community were aged and with young men not getting young girls to marry to replenish the population the future of the community was becoming bleak and appealed to the Government to consider mechanizing water from the Kulun River for the people.
Another woman from Tampaala, Madam Abeta Issahaku, said women spent more hours looking for water from unsafe sources.
Besides, one can not go to the pond twice to fetch water because of the distance.
"We are always tired when we return home and sometimes the water we fetch is not always sufficient for cooking let alone bathing.
Children suffer a lot because we do not get sufficient water to drink and cook for them.
Our men are not helping us to fetch water, they only go to the farm and expect us to come to the farm to help them on their farm work".
Madam Issahaku said women are unable to wash their clothes or clean their surroundings as they have to leave their homes early to go and waste many hours queuing to fetch water.
Other community members call people from Tampaala dirty people because they do not bath regularly and also do not wash their clothes frequently.
"We give birth to beautiful and handsome children but as they grow up, they look dirty and are unable to mix with other children.
They look inferior before their colleagues from different communities.
" Madam Issahaku said.
She said many children are dying in the community as a result of diarrhoeal and other waterborne diseases, adding that the eradication of guinea worm would be a mirage if some communities were still drinking from unwholesome water sources The testimonies from Chaggu Paani and Jankori Deriyiri communities were not different.
Mr Nousah Sobo from Jankori Deriyiri said the people have been drinking from a river and during the dry season the water became muddy and women had to add ash to it for the dirt to settle before they sieve it for drinking.
He said teachers posted to these communities to teach are unable to cope up with the situation and have abandoned the schools.
He appealed to the Government and non-governmental organisations in the water sector to find alternative ways of providing potable water for the communities.
ProNet North, a local non-governmental organisation, dedicated to the provision of potable water for communities in the Upper West Region in collaboration with WaterAid Ghana organised the forum.
It was under the "End Water Poverty Campaign" for the often excluded voices, such as women, persons with disability, and children to speak out their minds on how water and sanitation poverty impacts their lives at the local level.
The overall objectives of the poverty hearings are to provide an empowering and engaging way for communities to advocate improvements in their lives, and provide depth, richness and legitimacy to the campaign being run in their interest by WaterAid.
Looking at the situation in the Wa East District, this Writer is of the view that the seventh goal of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) "Ensuring environmental sustainability" can not be achieved in the stipulated period of 2015.
More work has to be done to enhance the provision of potable water in communities that do not have water.
Access and coverage rate of water and sanitation in most parts of the three Northern Regions is unacceptable and something needs to be done urgently.
Women, especially those undertaking sheabutter processing and other agro-based micro-businesses; school children; people living with HIV/AIDS as well as disabled persons suffer various levels of relative deprivation from potable water and decent sanitation scarcity which impacts negatively on their overall living standards.
In case of sanitation, the three Northern Regions, which are among the five poorest regions in Ghana, have the highest rate of open defecation.
The "Ghana Statistical Service Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) Report 2006" indicated that while the national average of open defecation was 24 per cent, the practice was most widespread in the Upper East Region, which had about 82 per cent of the people having no access to decent latrine; followed by the Upper West Region with about 79 per cent and then the Northern Region with about 73 per cent.
By Bajin Dougah Pobia.