By Justice Adoboe / GWJN
Ghana’s Development Partners (DPs) have called on the government to make sanitation a priority by committing more resources to the sector, to ensure that the laudable policies of the sector are translated into action.
They described as great the need for better sanitation in the cities and rural communities, as is the need for safe and affordable water, hoping that government will increase its funding towards the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector, as well as for the construction of WASH facilities in schools, health centres and urban areas.
Anik Desmeules-Raggio, DP Lead of the WASH sector in Ghana at the on-going three-day 24th Mole Conference in Kumasi, 258 kms north of the capital, Accra, called for a strong leadership from the government of Ghana, to help improve the effectiveness of all the efforts provided to bring improved sanitation as well as safe water to Ghanaians.
The government, DPs and the non-state actors in the WASH sector have introduced the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) Compact which brought about a modest increase in government funding.
“The SWA Compact has however made no in-roads on MDG targets. A recommitment to the SWA Compact, together with a significant increase in Government’s contribution would be a strong indicator that the country takes the problem of sanitation indeed seriously, and is resolved to address it effectively,” she observed.
Anik Desmeules-Raggio, who is also the WASH Sector Lead of the Canadian High Commission in Ghana, added that such a commitment from government would also indicate to DPs that the support they provide will be sustainable.
She expressed the appreciation of DPs with regards to the efforts of the government in preparing the right policy and strategic environment for potential new sanitation initiatives in the urban, peri-urban and rural areas.
But a lack of clarity prevails around how these will be funded and therefore implemented, observed the representative.
“Ghana’s national policy and strategic environment for sanitation is state-of-the-art, with the Rural Sanitation Model and Strategy (RSMS), as the central document in a suite of policy and strategic documents, reflecting key lessons from the international sub-sector; however, little has been implemented yet,” Desmeules-Raggio stated.
She said for financing of rural sanitation and hygiene to be efficient and help achieve open defecation free (ODF) status in rural Ghana, it was important to adopt innovative financing methods.
Ghana has few examples of micro-financing and/or other types of community-based financing for sanitation, and Desmeules-Raggio pointed out that those that exist suggest reasonable potential for replication or scale-up.
“This is especially true as open defecation free status is more widely achieved and consumers aspire to facilities that surpass the basic pit latrine,” she added.
The government of Ghana in 2010 promised to commit 350 million dollars to the WASH sector annually in order to scale up sanitation to meet MDG-7, but stakeholders doubt if this commitment has been met.
In its quest to scale up sanitation coverage in the country, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has moved sanitation to the front-burner of its priorities, sector minister, Akwesi Oppong-Fosu indicated during the opening of the three-day conference.
Delivering his address at the opening of the three-day 24th Mole Conference in Kumasi on Wednesday, the minister said sanitation will form the basis on which his tenure of office would be assessed.
He said the bulk of the work will however be done by the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) as the various localities fall under their jurisdictions.
“I have therefore told the Municipal, Metropolitan and District Chief Executives (heads of the local governments) that any of them who will under-perform and fail to deliver on sanitation will go before I go,” (would be sacked) the minister stated.
The minister cited the politicization of issues as one of the inhibiting factors to law enforcement in the sanitation sector in Ghana.
He lamented, “People break the law and when they are apprehended, they quickly assume political tags of foot-soldiers and opposition leaders, so they can escape prosecution.”
“Sanitation-related diseases do not know any political boundaries so we need to deal with the canker of indiscipline in the sector to ensure that we are able to achieve our sanitation aspirations as a nation,” the minister pointed out.
“As a Country and a people, we have the expertise and capacity so we should be able to marshal the resources for a change if we step up political commitment, investments and reprioritization of spending in favour of WASH in general and SANITATION in particular,” Farouk Braimah, Chairman of the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), organizers of Mole stated.
He cautioned that Ghanaians had become impatient with indiscriminate disposal of raw faeces into drains and in their communities and surrounded by faeces everywhere – homes, markets, schools, churches, mosques, hospitals beaches, and now even grave yards.