Friday, June 10, 2016

Sustaining the National Sanitation Day momentum: There may be hope after all

By Edmund Smith-Asante, ACCRA
Some community members clearing rubbish at the Mallam Junction on NSD
 June 4, 2016 did not only mark the 37th anniversary of the famous uprising that was to change the course of events in the country; it also marked the 19th edition of the National Sanitation Day (NSD) – which was established on November 1, 2014.

But unlike the heady days of the revolution when everyone got involved in the cleaning of their surroundings and clearing of their gutters as a patriotic duty, the NSD has had very little success in whipping up the enthusiasm of all.

Nonetheless, there may be hope not only to sustain the NSD momentum, but also tag many people along with each exercise.

According to a Communication Officer of a leading partner in the national exercise, Zoomlion Company Limited (ZCL), Mr Adams Mohammed Mahama, in view of the lack of enthusiasm by many people in the exercise as observed from its tour of all the regional capitals, ZCL has developed a strategy to work with various groups in the communities on every first Saturday of the month.

He told the Daily Graphic last Saturday during a clean-up at the Mallam Junction, a flood-prone area in Accra, that he believed the plan would eventually succeed in drawing community members to participate actively in the exercise not only on the NSD but every weekend to make cleanliness a part of the people.

“We’ve noticed some lapses so we are working on how to ensure that we don’t see those lapses again. Some of the lapses were that the support from the public was very low so there is the need to sustain it after the National Sanitation Day to ensure the continuous support of the public in the exercise,” Mr Mahama said.

To this end, he said Zoomlion had partnered about 10 associations in the Mallam area, including the Mallam Youth Association, that were being given implements to enable them to clean up on a weekly basis, “so that we don’t wait till the beginning of the month before we mobilise to clean, but the associations will adopt the area and do it weekly”.

Mr Mahama said the tools, including wheelbarrows, machetes and brooms, were given to the members of the associations in teams of 150 each supported by 100 workers from Zoomlion and designated skip loaders and compaction trucks to take care of different areas so they all work simultaneously to get the maximum output.

He indicated that the exercises were also supported by the security services including the police, the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO). The major partner in the Mallam area is the Ga South Municipal Assembly.

Mr Mahama said to ensure that the associations are actually doing the work and also know their challenges, Zoomlion would be monitoring their activities every week.

Future prospects
Stressing that the exercise with the associations was not going to be a nine days’ wonder, Mr Mahama said more innovations would be brought on board to ensure its sustainability and success.

He said to rope in members of communities who were not members of any of the associations, the next step would be to involve the landlords associations, churches, Islamic community leaders and other groups.

“This is just a start, a gradual process, so that by next year, next two -years it would be fully fledged and we would have the maximum support that we need to ensure that the National Sanitation Day is sustained and moved,” he stated.

A NADMO official, who spoke to the Daily Graphic on condition of anonymity, lauded the exercise at the Mallam Junction and said the organisation had chosen to take part in it because the area was flood-prone.

During the exercise, personnel had to join in to clear a major drain under the Mallam flyover, which had been choked with plastic bottles impeding the flow of water.

The Ga South District Organiser of the Civil and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana (CLOSSAG),  Mr Cephas Adorsu, said the association always participated in the clean-up exercises because apart from the members being staff of the Ga South Assembly, they also constituted about 90 per cent of the employees of the assembly.

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This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on June 8, 2016

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