By Edmund Smith-Asante, ACCRA
|Operators of the cesspit emptiers work without protective gear|
A whopping £1.43 million (GH¢8.44 million) is up for grabs by 139 metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs), which excel in designing and implementing liquid waste management strategies from now up to December 2018.
The amount is the total in prizes to be presented to the MMDAs as monetary and honorary awards in multiple rounds of a competition over a three-and half year period.
Financed by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the award, dubbed the Sanitation Challenge, is aimed at promoting competition among MMDAs and motivating them to team up with citizens, innovators and problem solvers to design and implement liquid waste management strategies, and transform and improve the lives of poor people in Ghana’s urban centres.
Other sponsors of the award, which was launched during Ghana’s commemoration of World Toilet Day on November 19, are the IMC Worldwide, the Consortium Leader, ITAD (UK); with the IRC Ghana and WASH Health Solutions (WHS) as the Implementation Agents.
The lead government institution for the challenge is the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), which is responsible for sanitation policy formulation and has oversight responsibility over MMDAs.
The first prize, referred to as the Duapa Award, will be presented for the Best Urban Liquid Waste Management (ULWM) Strategy, and will attract an amount of £75,000, while the runner-up will receive £12,000 in the first round of the competition. In the second round, there would be no awards for both the Most Progressive ULWM Strategy implemented and the Most Progressive ULWM Strategy.
Rather, after the award of the first prize, the implementation period of the liquid waste management strategies will be organised to reward competing MMDAs, based on their effective and innovative approaches to tackle liquid waste.
There would, however, be honorary awards of £20,000 for runners-up in both cases. The ultimate award of the Outstanding and Most Progressive Implemented ULWM Strategies worth £1,285,000 will be presented at the final grand awards ceremony to MMDAs, who have made the most progress in implementing their strategies by the end of the competition period, December 2018.
At the same event, prizes worth £54,000 will be presented to runners-up, which Mr Abukari Wumbei of IRC Ghana, explains is to afford as many MMDAs as possible the opportunity to win some awards.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, he said the award is “an innovative and major government intervention to up our game with regards to managing liquid waste so we could improve our performance in sanitation. So we throw a challenge to the MMDAs so that those who come up with the best strategy wins an amount.”
To enter the contest, the MMDAs who should have populations exceeding 15,000 inhabitants according to the 2010 National Population Census, are expected to fill an online registration form indicating their desire to participate.
Using an online template, their strategies should aim at achieving increased access to improved onsite household sanitation, at public buildings and at the workplace.
Benefits to competing MMDAs
The benefits for participating in the contest, according to the lead implementation agency IRC Ghana, include advice on how to improve liquid waste management, the monetary awards and public recognition through the media.
Also, participating MMDAs would receive recognition awards for their efforts towards tackling the challenge of liquid waste, in the form of trophies and also enjoy sponsored travel to learning events and international conferences.
Meanwhile, the criteria for judging which would be done annually by an independent panel of Ghanaian judges from academia and public service with expertise in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) service delivery, would include increasing access to safe sanitation and service delivery models.
Key objectives of Ghana project
The aim of the awards is to make urban sanitation a political priority for chief executives and core management of MMDAs; make the leadership ensure that sustainable sanitation services are available and affordable for everyone living in urban areas and so use innovative approaches to transform and significantly improve sanitation service delivery.
It is also to prioritise the use of existing public funding to support sanitation services and target the urban poor; mobilise external donor funding for urban sanitation to equitably target and benefit the urban poor, and enable private sector financing, particularly for household sanitation and sanitation businesses.
Despite Ghana’s steady economic growth averaging 6.6 per cent over the last years, which has pushed the majority (51 per cent) of the about 27 million Ghanaians to urban areas, it still remains one of the worst performing countries in the region on sanitation coverage.
Ghana became one of the first countries in the region that came close to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in halving poverty, hunger, and access to drinking water, but national sanitation coverage stands at 15 per cent according to the Multi Indicator Cluster Survey and Update Report on MDGs 2014, while the average in the region is close to 30 per cent.
While an explanation for the low results in sanitation coverage could be that putting sanitation facilities in place has not kept pace with rapid city growth, one of the key factors is that the major share of investments for the sector in Ghana goes to the water sector, while sanitation has had little political prioritisation.
According to a review in 2012 of Ghana’s WASH sector by UN-Water (Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water,GLASS), 83 per cent of total expenditure goes to water with urban water supply services representing 69 per cent and 14 per cent for rural areas, while spending on urban sanitation accounts for only 8 per cent.
While many Ghanaians have an improved living standard, 72 per cent of Ghana’s urban population use shared public latrines and 7 per cent practise open defecation. Sanitation coverage in urban Ghana is estimated at only 20 per cent, while about 72 per cent of the urban population use shared public toilets and 7 per cent of the urban population engage in open defecation daily.
Most MMDAs also discharge raw faecal waste into the sea or open fields and it is feared that about 90 per cent of faeces generated by urban residents is literally deposited in the immediate environment, regardless of the dire public health consequences.
This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on December 21, 2015