March 30, 2005
Nearly anywhere you go in Ghana, you can find someone selling water in small clear plastic bags, called "sachets". The plastic bags are presumably cheaper to produce than bottles, and maybe easier to transport in bulk, and they retail at a fraction of a cent.
Stop at a traffic light at any major intersection in Accra, and hawkers will walk up to your car, with huge bowls perched on top of their heads filled with water sachets. (The throngs of hawkers at these intersections sell nearly everything but the kitchen sink).
Typically I buy bottles of Voltic water, produced somewhere up near Lake Volta. But in a pinch, I'll buy a sachet.
Opening and drinking from a sachet is definitely an acquired skill. You bite off a corner of the plastic to create a litle hole, then squeeze the water into your mouth.
The first time I did this, acting confidently as though I'd done it a million times, I squeezed the bag while biting off the corner and all the water in the sachet spurted all over me while the taxi driver dissolved into giggles.
I still can't get it quite right, but the water squirting onto me is a nice relief from the heat anyway.
The plastic sachets have created a major waste management problem in Ghana. There are very few garbage cans to be found anywhere, and as in so many African countries, litter is common. Empty water sachets carpet the streets and gutters here. Ghana's vice-president formed a National Waste Management Programme last year to tackle the issue.
The program has run into some problems, but the sachet pollution is a topic of discourse here, and a Ghanaian journalist has even produced a documentary on the sachets. The doc will be screened at the upcoming first annual Environmental Film Festival of Accra (sadly, I will miss the festival).
Posted by Cathryn Poff at March 30, 2005 3:12 PM
These are common in Mexico and probably many other 3rd world countries! The countryside (and cities) end up littered with plastic bags -- too bad this plastic can't be self-destructive.
Posted by: Flo at April 1, 2005 12:20 AM