Contact Information

Initiative for the Advancement of Education in Africa (IAEA)
P. O. Box 27322
Houston, Texas 77227-7322, USA


Ghana Project

Within the framework of its capacity building goals for Tertiary institutions in Africa, IAEA is supporting a research partnership between the University of Mines and Technology in Ghana and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. The project will involve graduate and undergraduate students in Ghana working to develop an iron-arsenic filter that should help alleviate the problem of drinking water contamination in the Lower Offin Basin Communities.

This is one of several projects IAEA is supporting in Africa, specifically in Ghana, to develop an iron-arsenic filter in Lower Offin Basin communities. The primary objective is to reduce the level of iron and arsenic from drinkable water. These filters use laterite iron concretions that form in the soil throughout Ghana, hence the cost of filters is low, they can be built of local materials in a village setting, and the maintenance cost is low.

The principal investigator of this project is Dr. Federick Partey. Previous works on arsenic filter were performed in collaboration with Graduate Student Association of New Mexico Tech, Geological Society of America student research and the Sandia National Laboratory, USA.

Lower Offin Basin

The Lower Offin Basin is a major gold-mining area in Ghana. This area receives high-annual rainfall and as a result is drained by numerous springs and streams. These streams were the sources of drinking water to some of the communities in the Basin and act as transportation pathways for mine effluents. Discharges of mine effluents by mining companies go directly into the rivers and streams. Contaminated groundwater is the principal and sometimes the only source of drinking water in the area. Approximately 50% of the water wells have arsenic and iron concentrations exceeding the WHO’s Guidelines for drinking water quality. Maximum acceptable limits for arsenic and iron are 10 µg/l and 0.3 mg/l, respectively. These communities are the focus for this project.

Arsenic as a health hazard in Ghana

Arsenic concentration greater than the WHO proposed limit of 10 ppb in drinking water is recognized as a heath hazard throughout the world. Manifestation of chronic arsenic exposure which includes skin pigmentation, keratosis, hyper pigmentation, diabetes and hypertension as well as organ cancers have been widely studied and published worldwide. Well water near Lower Offin basin area showed arsenic concentrations of greater than 10 ppb. There is statistical data that shows that people in the Offin area are getting infected with a skin disease called Buruli ulcer, which is related to arsenic poisoning in their drinking water. It has equally been found that arsenic is a greater problem in non-mining areas in Ghana. Analyses of 5 villages in the Southern Volta Region showed water wells have arsenic concentrations of 72 to 524 ppb. The outbreak of Buruli Ulcer in Western Region of Ghana is suspected to be arsenic related.

Inhabitants of these settlements depend on groundwater and surface water for drinking and other domestic purposes. This drinking water is taken without any form of treatment. The arsenic filtering system if built will not only improve their health and productivity, but will cause inhabitants of the towns and villages to stay and work to improve their communities.