Despite the massive gains made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of 78% in water coverage, it is unlikely that Ghana can attain its MDG target of 54% in sanitation by 2015.
This is because the country is seriously lagging behind in improved sanitation coverage, which currently stands at 13% according to the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) made up of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
As a matter of fact, whereas according to Ghana’s Water and Sanitation Sector Monitoring Platform (WSMP), summary sheet for 2009, coverage of the use of improved drinking water for 2008 was 83.8%, it was 12.4% for improved sanitation for the same period (Demographic and Health Survey 2008).
The WSMP 2009 report states; “This indicates that, according to the JMP definition for access to improved drinking water, Ghana continues to be on track to meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for use of improved drinking water which is 78%, but the same cannot be said about improved sanitation, which will be difficult to achieve by 2015 at the current rate of use.”
It rather projects that “coverage for 2015 for improved water and sanitation will be 91.5% and 15% respectively, if progress made between 1990 and 2008 remains constant.
Re-echoing this in an exclusive interview with ghanabusinessnews.com in Kumasi, Friday, Mr. Kweku Quansah, Programme Officer at the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), said with 13% national coverage in sanitation, Ghana is one of the countries with the least coverage in the sub-region of Africa.
Stating that the country needs to move to 54% access to improved sanitation in the next five years (2015), he said “after we have even reached, which we are not too sure, we will still have 46% of Ghanaians who will not have access after the 2015 deadline.”
Affirming that in the unlikely event that Ghana attains a national coverage of 54% in sanitation by 2015 there will still be a large chunk of Ghanaians without access to latrines, he stressed that, that notwithstanding the country cannot afford to fail this time round in upping sanitation coverage, in view of the enormous assistance received from government and development partners for the sector.
“This time round we don’t have any reason to fail; we don’t just have to fail,” he stressed.
Mr. Quansah further stated that “now the international community has realised that Ghana is off track and they are giving us all the necessary support to be able to come back on track in terms of sanitation delivery.”
He said that “now there is increased collaboration between the Government of Ghana and other donors, in terms of technical assistance, in terms of investment, to make sure that Ghana is on track.”
Expatiating on the collaboration, the EHSD programme officer intimated thus: “All around our programming areas, we’ve got a lot of support from UNICEF in terms of capacity building, we’ve got a lot of support from Royal Netherlands Embassy in terms of delivering policies and investment funds and strategic action plans, to be able to really put us on track.”
He also spoke of six development pillars of the current NDC government, one of which is on sanitation, saying that government is so committed that it has supported the sanitation directorate to develop the Ghana compact, which was presented at the High Level Meeting (HLM) in Washington in April this year.
According to Mr. Kweku Quansah, Ghana can also not fail in increasing sanitation coverage, in view of the fact that the Ghana Government has made clear commitments in the compact as to the way forward for sanitation, revised the country’s sanitation policy, developed a National Environmental and Sanitation Strategic Action Plan (NESSAP) and is in the process of finalising the country’s Sanitation Investment Plan.
He stated that all of these “point to the fact that we cannot fail the people because all the political and administrative structures are ripe for us to really move the country forward in terms of sanitation.”
The programme officer added that “on top of this, sanitation has been captured as one of the indicators in the FOAT (Functional Organisational Assessment Tool), which is used in the assessment of districts to give them support in terms of DDF (District Development Fund),” which is part of donor support for the districts.
He also disclosed that Government has now accepted the Polluter Pays Principle policy, which is a system where a lot of funding can be accessed to support sanitation in the country.