Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lack of political will, cause of Ghana’s sanitation woes – WaterAid



BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE
Dr Afia Zakiya, CR - WaterAid Ghana
WaterAid Ghana, an international non-governmental organisation, has blamed Ghana’s sanitation crisis on the lack of will and commitment on the part of the government to deal with issues in the sector.
Speaking with a select group of journalists on Monday, November 18 in Accra on the current state of Ghana’s sanitation, the Country Representative of WaterAid Ghana, Dr Afia Zakiya said “A staggering 87 per cent of the population (more than 21 million people) do not have access to adequate sanitation. And 4,000 children under the age of five die every year from diarrhoea in Ghana, largely as a result of poor sanitation and hygiene.”
The special press encounter was organised by WaterAid Ghana as part of activities lined up to commemorate World Toilet Day which is now a United Nations designated day after its inception by the World Toilet Organisation in 2001.
Addressing the journalists, Dr Zakiya said; “As we speak 3.5 million people in Ghana are still without access to safe water. In rural populations lack of access to safe water is as high as 20 per cent.”
She said the government of Ghana continues to fail to fulfil the promises made at the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High Level Meeting (HLM) in Washington in 2010 and 2012, while the GH¢ 350 million that was promised for the sector was yet to be delivered.
“Furthermore, this failure to fulfill a promise is done in a context where the budget for sanitation specifically has been considerably reduced (Approximately 50 per cent from the previous year).”
Dr Afia Zakiya said this reduction had largely accounted for the crawling national sanitation coverage which had remained unchanged for the past few years.
Saying “Government has the greatest responsibility in dealing with the sanitation problems of the country and must therefore lead in the process”, she asked if the non-subsidy approach adopted, known as community led total sanitation (CLTS) had really worked, since some communities were so poor they could not afford their own toilet facilities.
“It is not always that money can solve all problems but a little will help,” she stated, adding, “We are not saying everyone must have a flush toilet like we have in the West but we can have facilities that would adequately take care of our waste.”
A section of the journalists at the media encounter
Dr Zakiya was however optimistic that Ghana could pick a few lessons from countries such as Ethiopia, Rwanda and South Africa which had been able to achieve so much in sanitation coverage.
She however, asked for more monitoring and collaboration between the sector ministries of Water Resources Works and Housing, Local Government and Rural Development and the ministries of Education, Health, Finance and Gender and Social Protection.
Dr Chaka Uzondu, Policy Manager, WaterAid Ghana, said the media encounter was to raise the level of awareness on the proper management of faeces as toilets save lives.
He said what Ghana needed was structural transformation and that it was not enough to demand behaviour change when “we are still building open sewers.”
“If 4,000 children under five die every year, it can be more because there are unreported cases – what is this about middle income status. Children are dying slowly from stunted growth. Where is the money for the sanitation sector,” he asked.
Writer’s email: Edmund.Asante@graphic.com.gh                                                                       
FACTS
  • To date WaterAid has reached more than 40,000 with safe water and more than 9,000 with sanitation facilities in Ghana as part of a HSBC Bank water programme.
  • According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, diarrhoeal disease is the 4th biggest killer in Africa for both adullts and children.
  • In total they estimate that 547,322 people in sub-Saharan Africa die every year as a result of diarrhoea.
  • Access to adequate sanitation has increased in sub-Saharan Africa by 4 per cent since 1990, from 26 per cent to 30 per cent today.

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