The Third Ghana Water Forum took place in Accra from 5th – 7th September 2011 at the College of Physicians and Surgeons. The forum was organised by the Water Directorate of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing (MWRWH) under the theme: “Water and Sanitation Services Delivery in a Rapidly Changing Urban Environment”.
In his keynote address to officially open the forum, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana, Prof. J. E. A. Mills reiterated the commitment of government to achieve the MDGs target of 76% and even the national target of 85% for water by 2015. He emphasised the commitment of government to the SWA compact and the provision of 20,000 boreholes over five year period to rural communities. Delivering the address on behalf of His Excellency the President, the Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, Hon. A. S. K. Bagbin also urged assemblies in big cities to coordinate among themselves in accordance with the relevant laws to achieve urban WASH goals.
In the conference theme address, a senior lecturer of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi gave some thought provoking recommendations. He observed that Ghana’s rapidly increasing urban population means we cannot continue to use of old systems for the provision of water and sanitation which have been largely ineffective; and that water sanitation and environmental hygiene should be holistically managed and controlled together.
Prof. Ahwoi suggested the need to decentralise the water and sanitation sector in such a way that it will be managed at the appropriate local level with the participation of the people; and that the possibility of production, transmission and distribution of water by different bodies or organisations as well as introducing the novelty of Independent Water Producers should be looked into. He proposed ‘regionalising’ urban water supply and management by clustering urban settlements around the water production and treatment sources.
He further suggested that water should be considered a ‘natural right’ and ensure that any options should have a ‘safety net’ to cater for the marginalised; and that a water fund should be set up to serve this safety net among others. Prof. Ahwoi concluded the fiscal decentralisation principle of ‘the finances follows the functions’ must be applied in the sanitation sub-sector.
The forum brought together about 500 participants from government institutions, the private sector, NGOs, Development Partners, Academia, and District Assemblies, international and local organisations in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and beyond. Four side events, including, the Ministerial and Development Partners Roundtable (M&DPR); Business Roundtable; Ghana Youth and Children’s Forum (GYCF); and Exhibition of WASH information products and technologies, were organised as part of the forum. More information on the Ghana Water Forum is available on, www.ghanawaterforum.org – Abu Wumbei/RCN.