Change Drainage Designs To Win War Against Mosquitoes

Growing up at New Achimota Estate, a suburb of Accra, the area used to be very dusty because the roads were not tarred and the drains had not been constructed then. Today, the roads are in good shape, the gutters have been constructed and the addition is that mosquitoes have found the area attractive.

Back then, only about 30% of the houses around the place were in their complete state. Due to the lack of properly constructed drains, people were forced to devise internal means of disposing unwanted water and therefore they mostly resorted to the use of soakaway or pour the water on the road to curtail the dust from entering their homes. I am not in favour of the latter though.

This means that water was not directly disposed into gutters.

However, after the drains were constructed, people find it more convenient to lay pipes from their households into the gutters so that waste water generated within are directly disposed into the gutters.

Today, the situation is different; the gutters in the area have been well constructed. About 90 to 95% of the houses within the area are complete and so waste water generated from homes are disposed directly into the well constructed gutters. The same can be said of virtually any developed community in the country.
The result is that our gutters are rarely dry even when the rains are not falling and mosquitoes are always gifted exactly what they need to live and multiply- stagnant water.

The development of the infrasture of the area has also contributed to the creation of habitation for mosquitoes. The result is malaria and the nuisance they cause at night

Though I left the area many years ago, I still worship at the New Achimota Presbyterian Church and my evening services are no longer peaceful as it used to be due to the presence of innumerable mosquitoes in the area. What used to be a mosquito-free developing area is now a developed-mosquito-dominated-area.

This constant traumatic encounter with mosquitoes during evening services instigated me to do a thorough research on the root cause of the problem and possibly fashion out a solution that can be used to solve the problem with mosquitoes not only in New Achimota but Ghana in general

As an Estate Developer and a Building Technologist, I found it binding on me to get to the root of this issue.

Findings: and effects:

Upon the research, I realised that unlike in the past when people used the soakaway and other means to dispose off waste water, almost all the houses have placed pipes into the gutters through which virtually every disposable waste water is transported into the gutters.
This means that every waste water generated in a household: from the kitchen to remains from bathrooms to water from rainfall are all given one disposable point- the gutters. Not much can be done about the case of the rain because aside the fact that it is beyond our control, rainfall is the main reason for construction of gutter. We however have control over where we dispose waste water generated by ourselves

Unlike rain water which is usually clean and comes with tremendous amount of pressure and therefore bulldozes it way through our gutters, water from households come with food particles and much less pressure to aid in smooth transportation of not only the water but the food particles through our usually poorly constructed drains.

What this means is that water and food particles gets stuck in the gutters and pile up until the gutters get choked. At this stage; a conducive environment has been created for mosquitoes to breed.
Since our gutters are rarely dry; mosquitoes will hardly be homeless

This is also aided by the fact that most of our gutters lead to know where and there is therefore always a place for water to get piled somewhere and automatically become a maternity home for mosquitoes

Most people having this design in mind don't care about whether or not the place is waterlogged. They will go ahead to build there because they can conveniently dispose off their internal waste water into opened gutters. In some cases overflow from septic tanks (papillary called man hole) with all the nasty smell from the toilets also fall within the opened gutters. This of course leaves no doubts that it will be a ground for mosquitoes to breed.

Unfortunately, this wrong waste water disposal system of design has been the approved design by most Municipal and district assemblies in the country. The New Achimota Estate for example was designed and built by The State Housing Corporation with all the designs approved by the Municipal assembly at Amasaman.

This wrong design concept has been copied across the length and breadth of the country and this is what this article seeks to correct.

The way forward

I am calling for a paradigm shift in the design of internal drainage of houses. This can be made possible by making a law that bares builders and house owners form disposing internally generated waste water into gutters but instead resort to the construction of soakaway within the houses. This law should ensure that building plans without evidence of proper soakaway are not approved by the Assemblies
Also, already built houses should be given a time frame to disconnect all pipes laid into gutters to transport internally generated waste water and create a soakaway for that purpose.

Real Estate developers must also be enjoined by this law to build in accordance with the new and approved standard.

Where the soakaway is not possible, the waste water can be recycle

Effect of law:

This design will not only reduce the presence of numerous mosquitoes causing the government to spend huge amount of monies to prevent and treat malaria but also drastically reduce the perennial building of houses within water courses and waterlogged areas in general.

The technical explanation is that, when you build in waterlogged area, it will be quite difficult to do the soakaway in-house since the soakaway system only works well in a dry and good sandy or laterite soil. It will therefore discourage potential developers from building in such areas and be more particular about the land they choose to build on. This will effectively reduce flooding in the country during the rainy season and promote the growth of green belt within the environment.

Underground drainage could be the alternative solution but it’s capital intensiveness means that we may not be ready for that at this material moment and therefore, the way out for us is the use of internal soakaway.

With the suggestions above, we will reduce cases of malaria and save the state tremendous amount of money and also reduce the flooding of our communities because cases of chocked gutters will also be effectively dealt with.

All government has to do is to make a law and enforce it.

For the record: I adopted the same approach at my Estate- Koans Eagles Gate (Kuntunse) and it is very rare to find a single mosquito there. The doubting Thomases can always go there to verify for themselves.