The monthly National Level Learning Alliance Platform [NLLAP] workshop being organized by the Resource Center Network in collaboration with the Water Directorate of the Ministry for Water Resource Works and Housing has been held in Accra.
The Workshop which was the last of the series to be held this year was also used to review the second Water and Sanitation Sector Performance Report dubbed ‘'the WASH Sector Performance Report-2010'' funded by the European Union..
The report made it clear on how the sector has underperformed due to lack of sufficient funding resulting, partly from the fact that approved budgets have usually not been fully released to the relevant agencies in the sector for implementation of programs.
Though there were some improvement in budget releases last year over the 2009 performance, Government according to the report must still pursue a stronger agenda in the years ahead to ensure that the ‘' Better Ghana Agenda'' is indeed achieved through increased funding to the water and sanitation sector.
The Editorial team were commended and urged further to in future editions deliver more comprehensive information on functionality, gender and vulnerability, hygiene and sanitation as well as NGO's participation in the delivery of water and sanitation to the people of this country.
The Environment Health and Sanitation Unit of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development [MLGRD] was upgraded into a Directorate in 2008 and mandated to provide guidance to the Ministry on environmental sanitation, sector planning, policy, monitoring and evaluation and regulatory issues.
The Directorate during the year under review made progress in the development of key policy and strategic instruments which among others includes the following, finalizing and launching of a revised national environmental sanitation policy, completion of a national environmental sanitation strategy and action plan, development of a rural sanitation model and strategy.
The report also pointed out that a shift in emphasis from direct provision of subsides to households for latrine construction to the community-led total sanitation approach [CLTS] in the country received prominence in 2010. This approach emphasizes triggering of communities to initiate their own actions to stop open defecation as a first step, and to improvise local technologies to contain human excreta from contact with food and water.
In 2010 a National School Health Education Policy [SHEP] was completed to provide a holistic approach to the implementation of school health interventions and streamline the various policies and activities of all agencies, departments, NGO's and individuals involved in School Health Services.
The quality of water resources which according to the report was fairly good in the past, has in very recent years been showing signs of gradual deterioration. Water pollution of varying degrees is prevalent in almost all the river basins in the country but is more pronounced in urbanized river basins such as the Densu and in areas where mining activities is popular especially in the Pra, Ankobra and Birim basins.
During the rainy seasons and because of high river flows, the water colours, total dissolved or suspended solids and conductivity change or increase considerably. Dumping of domestic, industrial and agricultural wastes into rivers and streams, particularly the South –Western Coastal river systems have resulted in high levels of pollution in the surface water that requires attention.
The Water Research Institute [WRI] , Hydrological Services Division[HSD] and the Ghana Meteorological Services Agency , with the support of some development partners and the Government were engaged in undertaking various aspects of water resource assessment.
The report also recommended that government demonstrates more commitment by increasing investment in the water sector. National efforts at promoting water resource management and creating a buffer zone are commendable and therefore recommended that these efforts are sustained, accelerated and even intensified.
The MLGRD should strengthen coordination among sector players in the sanitation and hygiene sector especially at the regional and district levels. Since improvement in water and sanitation impact positively on the health of the economy, it is recommended that Government should accord the needed priorities for the sector.
The WASH Sector Report is aimed at assembling all sector progress information in one document and makes it available to government, development partners, the media, the public as well as all key decision makers in the sector. The intention is to annually publish the status of the sector to help track achievements against set targets and support effective decision making and policy formulation.
The last NLLAP workshop for the year which was chaired by Mr. Minta A. Aboagye, former Director for the Water Directorate of the Ministry for Water Resource, Works and Housing [MWRWH] , brought together participants from the WASH Sector, government, development partners, the media among others to brainstorm on the outcome of the report and chart the way forward for the sector.
by Mohammed Saani Ibrahim,Accra.