Water Projects


Owned and managed by the communities

GETTING STARTED – Mafi-Dekpoe Water Project

AMURT’s involvement in the North Tongu District of Ghana’s Volta Region started in 1990 in Mafi-Dekpoe with an educational campaign to combat the Guinea Worm menace. After employing meetings, house visits and theatre, the AMURT team soon realized that the best way to help the people would be to provide safe drinking water. A dam built by the Russians in the 1960’s for agricultural purposes held enough water for a project to serve the ten villages. AMURT was able to build a water treatment plant using the slow sand filter technology to purify the dam water. DANIDA paid for the piping and distribution. The work took years, but in August 1998, the water finally started flowing.


Before the Mafi-Dekpoe project was completed, AMURT was approached by the assembly man from Mafi-Zongo. The were also badly affected by Guinea Worm. They needed a similar project. AMURT got a grant from the UNDP and constructed a dam, and the water treatment plant was constructed with help from AMURT chapters in the US and Europe. Committees were organized with representatives from the communities, and these committees took the lead in organizing the communal labor and various aspects of the project planning.


After building the dam, and the water treatment plant; at the end of 2002 we were looking at the daunting task of constructing a reservoir or water tower on the top of Kpokope Hill. The project design calls for the treated water to be pumped from the water treatment plant to the tower, from where it will flow by gravity to the communities. The logistical problems were considerable. How to convey heavy construction materials to the top of the mountain? The community organizers, Emperor and Kudjo, along with AMURT coordinator, Brohim, worked hard to mobilize the communities. Fifteen truck loads of sand, along with 600 bags of cement, and hundreds of iron bars and planks of wood reached the summit and the construction was completed in July. The capacity of the tank is 100 cubic meter, or 100,000 liters.

Pulling up the pipes was a dangerous and difficult job
Here are the Kpokope Mountain Heroes the local boys lifted and secured heavy iron pipes on the steep mountain side

The women of Kpokope took up the task of providing rocks and stone chips for the construction. They climbed and chipped the rocks with hammers straight off the mountain near the construction site–more than 1500 head-pans. The communities take great pride in the construction of the water tower. The Zongo water project is community owned and community managed. The participation of the communities through labor, sand and rocks, is a key component to instill the spirit necessary to make the project sustainable.


2005 was a pivotal year for the project. By summer the difficult and dangerous installations of iron pipes on the Kpokope hill was completed. The pumps, generators and filter media were installed, well tuned and tested at the water treatment plant. Fifteen kilometers of pipes were laid and 21 pipes stands constructed to deliver the water to the first ten communities.

The water treatment plant produced water of a clarity and quality that had not been seen in the communities before.


With funding from Italy, the communities and AMURT set out to bring water to more communities. Phase 2 was completed in 2006, as thirteen more communities were connected. In 2008 three more communities were added. The community leaders worked hard to mobilize the people for the grueling task of digging the trenches. At the end of 2008 the network at Mafi Zongo Water Project has extended to more than 52 kilometers, with 45 standpipes serving 26 communities with a population close to 9,000.


In May 2006, the heaviest rains in memory caused the flood waters to rise until the dam overflowed. The dike was damaged, and the communities piled sandbags to avert a disaster. The dam held and in 2007 AMURT brought bulldozers to make the repairs. The spillway was redesigned and relocated to the southern end of the dike. To make the dam safer and increase the storage capacity, the spillway level was raised by close to 3 feet. Additional bulldozer work to improve the spillway and the dike is planned for 2009.


Since the opening in 2005, the project has been able to function satisfactorily during the dry season. During the rainy seasons we have experienced higher turbidity and problems with clogging filters that has led to interruptions in service. The Engineers Without Borders chapter of the University of Arizona at Tucson made several research trips and concluded that our roughing filters (pre-treatment filters) were unable to handle the additional silt in the dam water due to heavy run-off into the dam during heavy rains. EWB has designed new filters that will solve this problem. After much hard work, with the help of EWB, Rotary USA and the Lanesra Foundation funds are now ready for this work. The construction is scheduled to be completed by the spring 2009.

The conveying of the pipes to the trenches was done by the women

After laying the pipes, the trenches must be filled immediately

The women did most of the work to prepare the filter media at the Water Treatment Plant

The oldest water project in the area is Mafi-Kumase Water project. Using the same basic technology and set up as Mafi-Zongo Water Project, they serve a network of more than 15 communities. In 2008, with the help of AMURT Italy and ScanCad International, we were able to extend water to the Adalekpoe community. Other communities have applied, and AMURT Italy and their partners are sponsoring more communities to be connected to the Mafi-Kumase Water Project.


The Mafii-Zongo Water Project is huge in scope and technically complex. We are facing challenges to establish the project financially, technically and managerially. The local government is doing their best to extend the electrical grid to the area. Until now the pumps are powered by generators. Electrical power will help ease the operating costs as diesel prices have gone up by 300 percent since the project started. We are also seeking a closer cooperation with the government’s Community Water and Sanitation Agency for the long term interest of the project. The communities remain determined and have assumed the management of the project. Because of the vast area, the daily administration is divided into two zones, North and South. Monthly meetings are held to give the communities opportunities give input and keep themselves informed about the developments of the project. We have a long way to go, but AMURT will remain until the project is well established. Our goal is to create a model for other community development projects in Africa and beyond.

The water is distributed on a pay and fetch basis. Here the meter reader comes to collect the weekly revenue from the standpipe attendant at Adiekpe

Thanks to our donors and partners:

Amici Nel Mondo, Postal, Italy Regione Trentino Alto Adige, Italy Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano, Italy AMURT Italy AMURT USA AMURT UK Gruppo Missionario di Merano, Italy Caritas Italiana, Italy As. Scambi Internaz. Minerbio, Italy Gli Altri Siamo Noi, Parma, Italy Asili Nido di Parma, Italy ScanCad International Lyon Club Casalmaggiore Inner Wheel Casalmaggiore Gruppo Chat Rhum Prout College, Australia Lanesra Foundation, Manila, Philippines Neo Humanistisk Barnehage, Oslo, Norway Emanuele Antola Foundation Rotary Foundation USA Engineers Without Borders, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA

You can help !

The water projects of North Tongu District are the result of hard work by the communities and strong determination by the local dedicated AMURT staff. However, we remain reliant on contributions from individuals and funding agencies to complete the project. We are still looking for sponsors for the finishing stages of the project, most significantly the distribution and piping.

To contribute you can donate online here for the Mafi Zongo Water project.

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