Hon. Alban Bagbin, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing (MWRWH), officially opened the 22nd edition of the Mole Conference under the distinguished patronage and chairmanship of Nana Kwesi Agyemang IX, the Paramount Chief of Lower Dixcove in Busua, Western Region of Ghana. In a keynote address delivered by Dr. Abdulai Sumani, the new Director of Water at the MWRWH, the Minister Acknowledged the key role of the CSOs in sector development processes. He congratulated CONIWAS for sustaining the Mole Conference series for the past 21 years; and urged them to strengthen the learning component. The Minister also commended the organizers for focusing on a very important aspect of the WASH development agenda, decentralized WASH services delivery, this year.
Dr. Ofei Aboakye of the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS) shared insights and concluded that the trends in Ghana are mainly towards a decentralized, multi-sectoral, demand-driven and private-sector oriented approach to WASH services delivery. The effectiveness of this approach, according to her was measured by the extent to which the poor have had sustainable voice in the decision making processes for WASH service delivery within the context of decentralisation. This was contained in the theme address that was presented on her behalf by David Osei-Wusu of the ILGS.
Dr. Ofei Aboagye stated that the institutionalisation of decentralisation through the transfer of power and authority including political, administrative, legal and fiscal responsibilities from the centre to local levels of government has been a major development strategy for countries. According to her the theoretical and empirical evidence suggest that when effectively implemented, decentralisation facilitates improvement in the level and quality of local services; improvements in revenue generation; better matching of local services to the preferences of local constituencies; and greater accountability.
“In Ghana, the District Assemblies are the vehicles for promoting socio-economic development at the Local Level. The concept has helped local government authorities to provide the impetus for sustained community-driven development” she added. Dr. Aboagye also examined the extent to which WASH services delivery had engaged seriously with the decentralization process to involve the communities for whom the benefits are intended. She also touched on the challenges and lessons in the efforts to provide continuous, reliable and affordable WASH services.
Earlier on the Western Regional Minister, represented by his Deputy, and the chair of CONIWAS took turns to welcome participants to the region and another edition of the Mole conference respectively. Short solidarity messages were then delivered by a range of development partners including Water Aid in Ghana, Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Development Partners, Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate of MLGRD and the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing among others.
The Deputy Minister for the Western Region, supported by the Water Director, MWRWH, the Director of EHSD, MLGRD and the Paramount Chief later opened the Mole XXII Conference Exhibition amid local cultural display, music and dancing. The exhibition had the CWSA, PURC, Relief International, CHF, Polytank, CONIWAS Secretariat, the Sanitation Working Group/TREND, and the RCN and partners among others on display. – Abu Wumbei/RCN