Ghana’s Mole conference opening puts sanitation under the gavel

 By Justice Lee Adoboe / GWJN

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Participants at the conference in a group picture

The 24th Mole Conference opened in Kumasi Wednesday, August 14, 2013, with
participants putting the need for scaling up sanitation coverage in the country under the spotlight.

The three-day conference, which was opened by Senior Presidential Advisor, Paul Victor Obeng, had all the main speakers acknowledging the slow performance in the sector, calling for stronger
collaborations among the stakeholders to scale up Ghana’s performance in sanitation delivery which is the Millennium Development Goal-seven (MDG-7).

Mr P. V. Obeng who represented HE John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana, conceded that something definitely went wrong, hence the country’s inability to progress in the MDG-7, observing that stakeholders were looking at a way of building partnerships at a time they should have been evaluating performance in policy implementation as a way of winding up activities on the MDGs.

He called on the stakeholders to develop enforceable standards for achieving the MDG-7, which seeks to achieve 54 percent coverage in sanitation, asserting that one of the reasons the country had under-performed in sanitation was the lack of urgency in the implementation of policies.

Ghana has however been able to achieve only 15 percent with just two years left to reach the target date of 2015.

“We all know we have underperformed in the sanitation sector, so whatever needs to be done should be done with a certain level of urgency in order to recover lost time,” Mr. Obeng stressed.

He continued, “We need a complete passionate evaluation of what has been done, who did what and who has not done what, to be used as building blocks for scaling up performance,” observing that the scaling up cannot happen if there are no workable plans in place.

The Presidential Advisor admonished participants to institute a new partnership in public education and dissemination to sensitize the public on the new ways they should handle waste.

The 24th Mole Conference was themed “Building Effective Partnerships for Scaling up Sustainable Sanitation Services in Ghana.”

“The conscience of Ghanaians is in the filthy gutters and as we visit our schools and find out that these children do not have toilets, and when we see the mountains of refuse rising in our towns
and villages, and people practicing open defecation, that is where the conscience of Ghanaians is,” Chairman for the opening, Dr. Doris Yaa Dartey stated.

Dr. Dartey, who is a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) communications expert, raised the alarm that sanitation has long been a crisis in Ghana, and if nothing is done to reverse the trend, it would become a disaster, as people would begin to see it as normal.

“Sanitation is at the heart of our national development and so it must be tackled with some urgency with all hands coming on deck,” she added.

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural Resources, Prof. Esi Awuah, who delivered the theme message, observed that one of the major inhibiting factors in sanitation delivery in Ghana was the cultural behavior which makes it a taboo for people to handle faeces.

She observed that although private sector participation in the sanitation has increased, work could not progress as expected, since bribery, corruption, nepotism and tribalism have caused the award of contracts to incompetent people in the sector.

The Vice Chancellor expressed worry that countries were becoming dependent on Development Partners (DPs) for service delivery in the sector, since governments themselves have low knowledge in sanitation.

Farouk Braimah, Chairman of the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) lamented that over five million Ghanaians still practiced open defecation.

He believed that although the country still has a tough time meeting the MDG-7, when all stakeholders play their critical roles, success can be achieved.

Mole is organized by the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), and is one of the largest stakeholder conferences on the WASH sector in Ghana, bringing the government, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Development
Partners (DPs) and other stakeholders together to dialogue on ways to improve service delivery in the sector. 

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