Ghana’s current low sanitation coverage of 15 per cent has been blamed on the lack of prioritisation of sanitation by politicians.
Other factors cited as being responsible include technical challenges, the lack of co-ordination in the sector, lack of funds and the improper utilisation of available funds.
At a Water, Sanitation And Hygiene (WASH) sector stakeholders dialogue called by World Vision Ghana, a non-governmental organisation, in collaboration with the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), last Tuesday, participants noted with concern that the issues of sanitation had been of least importance to political appointees; hence, Ghana’s poor performance.
In a presentation on the theme of the dialogue, “The Sustainable Development Goals: Options and Strategies for Improved Sanitation in Ghana,” a senior lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Dr Kwabena Nyarko, said the lack of commitment to sanitation had left many projects in the country at the pilot stage.
“Because of low political prioritisation, we don’t have funds. Existing programmes have also failed to reach the poorest,” he added.
He said open defaecation was a common practice among about a quarter of the population in the country and the figure was likely to soar in a few years if enough budgetary allocation was not given by the government to fight it.
From MDGs to SDGs
The achievement of Ghana’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) sanitation target of 54 per cent is now impossible as the MDGs period ends this September and will be taken over by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The dialogue was held to find out what accounted for the low basic sanitation coverage in the country, how the WASH sector should approach the implementation of basic sanitation within the SDGs, the options and strategies available for achieving improvement in basic sanitation and the resource requirements to attain that goal.
Speaking at the forum which attracted over 120 participants, a former Board Chair of Graphic Communications Group Limited, Dr Doris Yaa Dartey, said even though Ghana performed creditably in the supply of potable water by going beyond the 76 per cent mark, the situation was woeful in terms of sanitation coverage, where Ghana could only manage 15 per cent.
“When it comes to environmental sanitation in Ghana, the country is broken. We are broken into pieces. A people who cannot get their sanitation right are in a serious mess. We need to fix this,” she said.
Revolution against open defaecation
Dr Dartey said the time had come for all to embark on a sanitation revolution to ensure that sanitation facilities were provided to improve upon their health status. She encouraged all to join the crusade to stop open defaecation since it was a major sanitation issue in both rural and urban areas.
“In the next five to 15 years Ghana would be a disaster if drastic steps are not taken,” she warned and asked Ghana to shame the United Nations by turning the situation around in the next five years.
For his part, the National Director of World Vision Ghana, Mr Hubert Charles, said the provision of clean water, improved sanitation and good hygiene were major issues of concern to his organisation. He stated that it was in view of this that “between 1985 and 2010, World Vision Ghana invested over US$60 million to improve the well-being of children and the socio-economic development of more than 1.3 million people in over 1,600 communities and 150 schools and clinics throughout the country by ensuring sustainable access to water, sanitation and hygiene services”.
Mr Charles said from 2011 to 2016, World Vision Ghana was also investing an additional US$30 million to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene services for one million people in 1,050 communities in Ghana.
“It is particularly regrettable to note that many schools in Ghana lack access to improved sanitation and hygiene facilities, leaving children with no option but to resort to open defaecation in nearby bushes and hideouts,” he added.
The Abese Divisional Dzaasetse, Nii Anyetei Anokware Nsro I, said the problem of open defaecation would only be improved if authority was vested in the hands of local rulers and opinion leaders to monitor sanitation issues. He blamed the central government for showing little commitment to issues concerning sanitation.
He called for capacity building of environmental health officers and the strict enforcement of laws at the local level as the best way to deal with open defaecation.
Two environmental health officers who spoke at the dialogue said they were hampered in their work as a result of the lack of political will and prioritisation of sanitation. They also maintained that the enforcement of sanitation by-laws was hampered by the political heads.
Those who participated in the forum were unanimous in their call for social action to push for improved sanitation.
Source: Daily Graphic
|Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com accepts no responsibility legal or otherwise for their accuracy of content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it as a matter of priority.|