Sachet water production – a thriving business with health implications

Sachet water production in Ghana has become a main source of economic empowerment to hundreds of people nation-wide.

Through the 500 millilitre square bagged water, many people are able to access and drink filtered water; some are gainfully employed with others, mostly the producers, using as a stepping stone to venture into commercial bottling of water for sale to the teeming populace.

Sachet water which is widely called ‘pure water’ has is widely accepted by people as it is affordable and accessible to the people.

However, the health of the indigenes is at stake. Majority of the sachet water brands are without operation licenses, according to the investigation.

Some are also produced under deplorable conditions by people who have no or limited expertise in the activity. Most of these producers, according to an official of the Ghana Standards Authority, are retired employees who fall on sachet water production more as a supplement to their meagre pensions rather than a commercial venture with the attended seriousness.

The selling of sachet water by street hawkers to pedestrians also leads to contamination as most of the sellers handle the water with their bare hands. They hardly wash their hands after visiting the urinal and toilets and openly expose the chilled water to the sunrays, dust and other environmental conditions.

As a result, a lot of waterborne diseases have emerged and spread across the country.

A cholera outbreak which occurred in 2012 was largely blamed on the shoddy nature of sachet water production and retailing in the country. The outbreak claimed over 60 lives by May 2012, according to the Ghana Health Service, and threatened the lives of thousands more.

While this is happening, regulatory authorities such as the Food and Drugs Board and the Standards Authority have admitted being overwhelmed by the situation and have thus called on sachet water consumers to boycott shoddy brands.

That, they said is the surest way to halting the practice as all efforts put up to sanitise the industry have yielded less results.

By Maxwell Adombila Akalaare.

Published February 12, 2013 in GRAPHIC BUSINESS.

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