By Victor Otum / GWJN
Professor (Mrs) Esi Awuah, Vice Chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural Resources, has advocated the need for Ghanaians to start paying for the waste they generate.
Delivering the Mole XXIV Conference theme address in Ashanti Regional Capital, Kumasi, she called on all WASH sector stakeholders to wean themselves of over dependence on foreign aid and donors for the development of the sector and the provision of water and sanitation services because it is not sustainable.
She said “We have become over dependent on our partners so much so that we can’t do anything without their support and we are not willing to sacrifice anything on our own”.
Professor Esi Awuah said this is because the current situation of dependence on aid is not sustainable because “as Ghana moves into a middle income country state these benefits will cease. Also, these development partners have their own problems to deal with and with population growth in some of these countries, there will come a time where they can no longer continue to provide the support as they are currently doing. These therefore inform the need to learn to do it ourselves now before that time comes.”
Professor (Mrs) Esi Awuah identified the key challenges facing the sector as lack of well-grounded knowledge in the sector, cultural behaviours and practices, political interferences, bribery and corruption, favouritism and nepotism.
She however commended the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) for the creation of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate under the ministry and the increasing private sector involvement in issues relating to water and sanitation. This, she believes will help promote accelerated development of the sector.
Professor (Mrs) Esi Awuah called on political authorities to put in place measures to raise concerns on environmental and sanitation issues and standards, including the implementation of relevant legislation and their enforcement as well as public education on good sanitation practice.
The Vive Chancellor said “There is little being achieved because of lack of collaboration and coordination, adding, there is sometimes even competition between the three – Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Ministry of Education, who jointly have oversight responsibility over the WASH sector.
Touching of the theme for the conference, Professor (Mrs) Awuah said partnerships succeed based on relevance and mutual interest of the partners, commitment and passion to succeed and result oriented vision by the parties in the partnership to see it work.
It is therefore important for WASH partners to ensure that they are committed to the course of the partnership to see it succeed, she indicated.
Professor Awuah said the issue of plastics which are non-biodegradable and contributes to insanitary environment has become a thorny one because as a result of unreliable and inadequate supply of water, people rely on sachet water to complement what they get from other sources.
She stressed therefore that banning the use of plastics without ensuring first adequate supplies of water could be very troubling since it will deprive people of water, despite the menace of the plastic bags/sachets.
Professor (Mrs) Awuah called on government to help provide or facilitate the provision of sanitation facilities to schools and the deprived. This, she believes will help them live a more dignified life by stopping open defecation, preventing sanitation related diseases and promoting good sanitation in schools.
The annual MOLE Conference series is organised by the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) in other to offer stakeholders in Water, Sanitation and the Hygiene sector the opportunity to discuss issues affecting their operations, and deliberate on possible solutions that will help promote service delivery.