Managing the sewage system in the city of Tema in Ghana previously relied on a plan on physical paper. Through the cooperation with Aarhus Vand a digitalized plan in the shape of an app has been developed enabling quick updates on data.
Tema is a city in Ghana situated at the Atlantic coast and the largest seaport in the country. More than 160.000 people are living in this city. Water and wastewater management is a challenge in a city which is growing. A wastewater plan giving an overview for everybody working on the maintenance in this respect was greatly needed.
Mr. Buckman Oppong is living in Tema and is responsible for the sewer network in terms of the registration of pipes and wells. He is GIS Technician at Tema Metropolitan Water and says following:
In a strategic sector cooperation financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Aarhus Municipality and Aarhus Vand should develop a wastewater management plan. Mads Thomsen and Benjamin Mikkelsen from Aarhus Vand, who are responsible for data registration and GIS-data (Geographical Information System), collaborated with Buckman Oppong from Tema Metropolitan Assembly on fulfilling this task. Mads Thomsen, Data and GIS developer, Aarhus Vand says:
He explains further that the prerequisite for establishing a wastewater management plan is that you first of all have an overview of where pipes go to and from and second of all that you know who discharges wastewater and thus who you can bill.
In the opinion of Buckman Oppong, the cooperation with Aarhus Vand has pushed registration of the sewer system in a good direction towards digitalization.
“We didn’t have any digital data or GIS data before. Together with Aarhus Vand we prepared a data model for our sewer pipes and then a mobile app was developed by LE34 where we can register facilities for the sewer system.”
Aarhus Vand focused on finding a solution where employees could register sewage facilities on their mobile phone in the field. The Danish company LE34 made their app solution available. Aarhus Vand found cloud-based storage which fitted the tight economy in Ghana. With this online tool, employees begun registering the entire sewage system. Buckman Oppong says following about this solution:
He continues to explain that this also improves the environment as spillage of wastewater will not be on the ground for long because repairs can be fulfilled quicker than before.
In order to fulfill a wastewater management plan, access to data on households discharging wastewater is necessary. Through the assistance of the Danish Embassy work is underway to create better access to census data at Ghana Statistics. These data could be a great tool for calculating person equivalents (PE) and thus dimensioning wastewater treatment plants.
“Today our billing isn’t data driven but based on some criteria. Through data from Ghana Statistics on households and data from Ghana Water on water consumption, I hope that we can improve our billing strategy and economy,” says Buckman Oppong.
At Aarhus Vand there is a feeling of having imposed a change to the better in Ghana. Three employees spent two weeks building an architecture, finding open-source software and cheap storage in the cloud.
“It has been a great task to use all our knowledge and create a good digital infrastructure for the sewer system in Tema. Furthermore, it has been an eyeopener what difference it makes to open data to everybody involved in the maintenance of pipes etc. We hope that our efforts mean a future-proof way of managing the wastewater system. Combining data from different fields and disciplines into one GIS map unlock data and bring information to life” says Mads Thomsen, Aarhus Vand.
In a second phase of the cooperation further improvements on the registration of repairs will be performed. The goal is that an improved overview will make renovation easier. Thus, hope is, that pipes will be renovated to an extent where they do not clog, and that wastewater will be discharged to a treatment plant for the benefit of the people’s health in Tema.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark
A great thanks to Aarhus Kommune and Tema Metropolitan Assembly for the cooperation on this project.