Water Values In A Ghanaian Small-Scale Gold Mining Community

January 2013

In this paper, values associated with water-sociocultural, economic, and chemical-in a small-scale gold mining community in northeastern Ghana are considered. 

Water scarcity, quality, and control are growing problems worldwide. In this paper, values associated with water-sociocultural, economic, and chemical-in a small-scale gold mining community in northeastern Ghana are considered. Mining activities have affected the quality of locally scarce water resources. In an area without government provision of water, this situation has also forced community members to develop innovative water strategies that reflect the ways that water is understood and valued with regard to personal health and the environment as well as to the seasonality of water acquisition. These community evaluations of water in the gold mining community are then compared with the chemical analysis of water samples collected near the gold mining site. The ways in which these evaluations of water quality-based on particular knowledge systems-coincide and differ suggest the need for community participation in environmental and health assessment as well as government oversight and water provision. An examination of the connections between gold mining, water, and health; work and gender; and cultural and chemical assessments of water quality situates this particular water world within larger global concerns about small-scale gold mining, the roles of mining communities and government, and water sustainability.