The causes and health effects of river pollution: a case study of the Aboabo River, Kumasi

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The rivers in the Kumasi Metropolis in recent times have become repositories for filth and human waste. The Aboabo River is one such river that is heavily polluted through varied human activity along its course. Despite the potential health hazards that the pollution of water bodies has for persons who use the water bodies, river pollution persists. A sample of 396 households living in the Aboabo River basin was studied. Structured questionnaires, observation, in-depth interviews and water quality analysis were employed. The study identified rapid population growth, institutional failures and industrial activities as remote anthropogenic causes of pollution of the Aboabo River. The main anthropogenic causes were identified as indiscriminate dumping of refuse, channeling of raw sewage, open defecation, discharge of untreated effluents and dumping of industrial waste into the Aboabo River. Physical tests showed that the Aboabo River was polluted since it had exceeded WHO Drinking water quality guidelines for color, taste, turbidity and odor. Faecal coliform count for water sampled at all stations was above 300 ×104 /100ml and had exceeded the WHO Drinking water quality guidelines of 0/100ml indicating pollution from human sources. The pollution of the river reduces its water quality and yields a significant health effect to people living in the river basin. Frequency of playing in the polluted river was positively correlated with occurrence of water related diseases in 322 children who frequently played in the river. The financial and logistical strengthening of institutions as well as proper enforcement of laws were recommended. In addition, the provision of adequate sanitation infrastructure and education was encouraged in order to ensure good healthy environments in the home, neighborhood and community levels.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Geography and Rural Development, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.