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Akwatia

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Akwatia is a town in the Eastern region of Ghana west of the Atewa Range in the Birim River basin with a population of about 23,000. It is the main center of diamond extraction in the country.

Administration

The town is part of the Kwaebibirem District, and is the center of a parliamentary constituency of the same name. Traditionally a stronghold of the center-right New Patriotic Party (NPP), there were difficulties with the 2008 general elections where several polling boxes were vandalized.

Facilities

Schools include St. Rose's´High School and Akwatia Technical Institute. The local soccer club is the Akwatia Diamond Stars.

The Saint Dominic's Hospital in Akwatia is a 320-bed facility, relatively well-equipped but suffering from a shortage of doctors and supplies. Common serious ailments include malaria, tetanus, tuberculosis and polio.[4] The hospital opened an Eye Clinic in 2003 funded by the Germany Rotary Volunteer Doctors. When St. Dominic’s hospital started an AIDS treatment acceleration program, between September 2006 and January 2007 32 clients had initiated therapy.

Diamond mining

The Akwatia diamond field lies in Birimian rocks and has produced more than a 100,000,000 carats (20,000 kg) of diamonds, mostly industrial grade. The government-owned Ghana Consolidated Diamonds (GCD) is the only formal commercial producer of diamonds, using strip mining with Manitowoc draglines. The plant is obsolescent, available only 38% of the time and working far below capacity. The government is looking for a strategic investor to take over operations. Although the Akwatia deposits are nearly depleted, large additional resources have been identified in the nearby Birim River deposits, including an altered meta-lamproite that may represent a primary diamond source.

Environmental issues

Although diamond mining does not involve the same potentially harmful chemical processes as gold mining, it has caused various health problems in the town. Both legal mining activities on GCD's sites and informal "galamseys" leave large pits which fill with water during the rainy season, and create a breeding ground for Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, the vector of transmission for malaria. Land degradation from mining reduces biodiversity and decreases availability of medicinal plants used for ailments such as anemia, asthma, gonorrhea, measles and typhoid. Lack of water treatment by the mining company is a major cause of diarrhea, cholera and typhoid. In 2001, diarrhea was the second most common cause of outpatient morbidity in the Kwaebibirem District after malaria. Below Akwatia the river holds high levels of silt from the mining operations.

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