|A cross section of participants at the conference|
The 22nd edition of the longest running annual Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector event in Ghana, the Mole Conference, began yesterday August 10, 2011, at the Busua Beach Resort in the Ahanta West District of the Western Region of Ghana.
This year’s annual WASH forum organised by the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), is themed ‘‘Towards Decentralised WASH Services Delivery: Challenges and Lessons” and will end on Friday, August 12, 2011.
According to the organisers, the key objective of the conference is to take stock, share experiences, challenges, lessons and the way forward on the effort towards decentralised water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services delivery.
Specifically though, it aims at discussing the sustainability of WASH services with respect to small town water supply systems, identifying and discussing the implications of the oil and gas industry to the WASH resources in Ghana and gaining consensus on mechanisms for expanding Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in a way which will enable people move up the sanitation ladder.
The conference will cover four sub themes, which are, i) Governance, Accountability and Aid Effectiveness in the WASH sector; ii) dealing with long term financing for small town systems; iii) Oil and Gas and its implications in the WASH sector; and iv) Scaling up Sanitation and Hygiene- The CLTS factor.
The sub theme of Governance, Accountability and Aid Effectiveness in the WASH sector has been chosen to give impetus to the Paris Declaration on Aid-Effectiveness, the Accra Agenda for Action and the European Union Code of Conduct, all of which commit the development partners to improve aid effectiveness.
Further, it is in view of the fact that poor governance has been blamed for most of the crisis in the WASH sector today, especially with regard to effective /local government leadership, transparency and accountable conduct of service providers, be they public, private or not-for-profit.
Meanwhile, Ghana has taken giant strides to harmonise procedures and programmes amongst the myriad of players in the WASH sector. These include a sector wide approach (SWAp) and a Sector Strategic Development Plan (SSDP), which the 3-day conference hopes to examine to see how these initiatives would in practice help to bridge the gap between international declarations and practical implementation of those declaration, such as localising the Paris Declaration for implementation and monitoring.
Mole XXII which has attracted an unprecedented number of over 150 participants from government sector agencies, development partners and non-governmental agencies, also hopes to suggest mechanisms to improve efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery, increase effective community participation in decision making at all levels, strengthen sector governance and improve transparency and accountability of duty bearers to communities.
As regards dealing with long-term financing for small town systems, the conference hopes to effectively examine innovative risk protection mechanisms to insulate them from catastrophic events that result in huge financial outlays for repairs.
Concerning oil and gas and its implications in the WASH sector, Mole XXII hopes to facilitate a serious reflection on concomitant issues such as high price tags on housing as a result of the oil find and the consequential development of peri- urban areas and propose measures that will enable affected districts better prepare against an imminent WASH crisis.
The fouth sub theme; “scaling up sanitation and hygiene – the CLTS factor”, is also aimed at reviewing how far Ghana is progressing with the CLTS agenda, whether there are any early signs of ultimate success and if CLTS would count towards the MDGs or not.
Aside the four sub themes, the conference will discuss new and on-going developments in the WASH Sector since Mole XXI, such as Household Water Treatment and Storage Strategy, Sector Wide Approach (SWAp), Sector Strategic Development Plans, Sector Monitoring and Evaluation Framework, MDGs Accelerated Framework and Promoting Women in leadership in WASH at the highest political level.
Participants at the ongoing conference are being taken through the sessions through knowledge sharing, structured and expert panel discussions, exhibitions, structured media events, conference communiqué and a report.
Named after the venue of the maiden edition, Mole, in the Northern Region of Ghana, the Mole Conference series is one of the biggest multi-stakeholder annual platforms in the WASH sector in Ghana. It is organised by the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) and 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.