By Edmund Smith-Asante
The Coalition of non-governmental organisations in water and sanitation (CONIWAS), has stressed that while Ghana’s sanitation problem is huge, it can only be tackled with close collaboration among all national stakeholders.
In a statement released this week to announce Mole XXIV, this year’s edition of annual conferences held on water, sanitation and hygiene since 1989, the Coalition stated: “Clearly, the problem of sanitation is huge, and can only be tackled head-on with close collaboration and effective partnership backed by effective resource deployment by community members, traditional authority, local government authority, national government, private sector and development partners.”
CONIWAS says it has chosen ”Building Effective Partnership for Scaling-Up Sustainable Sanitation Services in Ghana” as the theme for this year’s conference because it deems it as more appropriate in the context of Ghana in view of the serious sanitation challenges currently facing the country.
These, it lists as poor individual and community attitude, poor and inadequate facilities, socio-cultural issues, weak institutional support mechanisms, weak enforcement of bye-laws and poor sanitation financing.
Quoting from the 2013 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS, 2013) report which estimates Ghana’s improved sanitation (safe toilet) access rate at 15% as at 2012, against the 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of 54%, the Coalition laments that at the same time the open defecation rate of the country is currently 23%, having increased from 19%.
According to CONIWAS, “Whereas the improved sanitation coverage for urban Ghana is 21%, rural Ghana is 9%. In terms of regional distribution for open defecation, the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions score 9% and 10% respectively while the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions have open defecation rates of 89%, 72% and 71% respectively.”
The Coalition hopes therefore, that the outcomes of the Mole XXIV Conference and its activities in general, will be important in highlighting these critical issues at the district and community levels, and support communities to implement simple and sustainable measures to raise funds.
So from Tuesday, August 13 to Friday, August 16, 2013, Ghana’s NGOs in water and sanitation, governmental agencies, individuals and development partners will be dialoguing on issues meant to stabilise the country’s very shaky sanitation status.
Key issues to be examined will include “Public- Private Partnership for Scaling-Up Sustainable Sanitation Delivery”, “The Role of MMDAs in Sanitation Service Delivery”, “Community’s Perspective in solving Sanitation Challenges: opportunities and realities” and “Sanitation and health linkages: A way out of Ghana’s Sanitation Challenges?”
According to the organisers, the key objectives for Mole XXIV are to: Explore options and opportunities for sustainable sanitation delivery in Ghana, Examine public-private partnership models for accelerated sanitation delivery, Ascertain relevance of operation, maintenance, and user fees as financing options for improved sanitation delivery, Share knowledge and expertise on sanitation delivery and provide recommendations for policy advocacy and influencing.
They hope to use knowledge sharing sessions, structured and expert panel discussions, exhibitions, structured media events, conference communiqué and report to arrive at the goals set out for the conference.
Mole Conference is one of the biggest Multi-Stakeholder annual platforms in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector in Ghana and is named after the venue of the maiden edition, Mole in the Northern Region of Ghana.
It brings together sector practitioners from NGOs, Government, Private Operators, Networks, CBOs, CSOs, etc. to dialogue, learn and share knowledge/ information on specific themes that affect the sector.
The Mole Conference Series, which has witnessed consistent growth of interest and importance since its inception in 1989 among civil society, policy makers, local government and development partners alike, has evolved from what was primarily an NGO forum into perhaps the most important multi-stakeholder platform within the WASH Sector in Ghana.