By Edmund Smith-Asante, ACCRA
|The discussants at the dialogue are from left, Mr David Duncan, UNICEF Chief of WASH, Mr Joseph Agyepong, President of ESPA; Mr Edward Effah, Managing Director, Fidelity Bank and Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, Managing Director, GCGL.|
Various speakers at the maiden edition of a dialogue series involving the government, stakeholders and donor agencies emphasised the need for greater partnership to build capacity, fund sanitation projects and programmes, and ensure behavioural change and the enforcement of bye-laws and policies.
It was on the theme: “The role of the private sector in providing sustainable practical solutions to Ghana’s sanitation challenges”.
Jointly organised by the Environmental Services Providers Association (ESPA), Zoomlion Company Limited, the Fidelity Bank, the Graphic Communications Group Ltd (GCGL) and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), the dialogue series are intended to raise awareness of sanitation issues, appeal to the international development community and the government of Ghana to include private companies in the execution of projects.
It also called for the creation of a platform for direct dialogue between private local companies and the international community.
The dialogue series, which were held yesterday, attracted stakeholders in the waste management and sanitation sector, officials of diplomatic missions, the Office of the President and the MLGRD, as well as the financial sector.
The main component of the well-attended dialogue was a panel discussion involving four discussants — the Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) at UNICEF and Leader of the development partners (DPs), Mr David Duncan; the Executive Chairman of Zoomlion and President of the ESPA, Mr Joseph Siaw Agyepong; the Managing Director of the Fidelity Bank, Mr Edward Effah; and the Managing Director of the GCGL, Mr Kenneth Ashigbey.
Topics discussed by the panellists were: “DPs’ roles and commitment to provide sustainable solutions to Ghana’s sanitation challenge”, “The missing link and role of Ghana’s private sector in providing sustainable solutions”; “Financing WASH projects in Ghana – Challenges and opportunities”; and “The role of the media in promoting adequate financing and budgeting for WASH service”.
In his presentation, Mr Duncan listed harmonisation, equity focus, capacity building, private sector engagement, sustainability, knowledge management, increased government prioritisation and decentralisation as key areas that the DPs saw as needing attention.
He said although substantial funds had been committed to the sanitation sector by The Netherlands (€100 million), Canada (over $100 million), the World Bank GAMA project (around $150 million), among other investments by other DPs, “it is not the money that really makes the difference”.
According to him, the challenges to development that had been identified were limited harmonisation in the sector, limited equity, low capacity, weak decentralised financial management, poor operation and maintenance and the lack of value on information.
Others were the lack of priority attachment to funding and genuine commitment, behavioural change, transparency, corruption and the fact that the government, DPs and the private sector were unsure of how the government could best facilitate and regulate the private sector.
Mr Ashigbey called on the media to be partners in the effort to solve the country’s sanitation challenges.
He said to do that, they would first have to understand the issues to be able to report correctly on them and see how they related to the development of the country.
Mr Ashigbey noted that the reason the media had not paid much attention to reporting on sustainable waste management and sanitation issues in the past was “because ordinarily news about sanitation does not sell and it is also because consumers of media do not focus on these”.
When he took his turn, Mr Agyepong said by the end of January 2016, ‘Lavender Hill’ where raw liquid waste was dumped directly into the sea would be no more due to ongoing waste treatment projects in the country.
He said ongoing renovation works at the Mudor waste treatment plant in Accra would be completed by January 2016, while the Adjen Kotoku treatment plant would be inaugurated in December 2015.
Mr Agyepong listed some challenges facing the private sector as the lack of access to financing and non-enforcement of existing bye-laws, as well as policies on sanitation, and called for a paradigm shift in the engagement of the private sector in managing sanitation in the country.
Need for partnership
Mr Effah called for partnership among the government, the private sector and the DPs.
“Together, whatever the challenges are, whatever the opportunities are, we can overcome them. Without this partnership, there is no harmonisation,” he stated.
He asked non-governmental organisations involved in sanitation to rather shift to private sector businesses, as they were more sustainable to operate and could easily access funds from the banks to operate as professional entities.
The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Alhaji Collins Dauda, lauded the innovations by the private sector in recycling waste materials, composting, improving haulage of municipal waste and ensuring better management of final disposal sites and engineered landfills.
He acknowledged the support received from DPs, saying, “Considering the fact that the government is constrained in terms of financial resources, the support of our DPs has gone a long way to improve the sanitation situation in the country. Indeed, if we are to forge ahead in improving insanitary conditions in Ghana, we must consider it as a shared responsibility.”
The Chief of Staff, Mr Julius Debrah, pledged the government’s commitment to partner the private sector and the DPs to achieve improved sanitation for the country, saying that its doors would always be opened.
This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on Thursday, November 19, 2015