The West Africa Regional Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage (HWTS) workshop has opened in Accra, Ghana. The three day workshop, which spans from 6th to 8th May 2013 is hosted by the Government of Ghana with support from UNICEF and the Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage (HWTS) Network under the theme, “Scaling up HWTS -National Policy Environment and Integration Strategies”.
In a keynote address to open the conference, Hon. Akwasi Opong-Fosu, the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development emphasised Government's commitment to ensure that people drink safe water at the point of use through the promotion of HWTS in Ghana. He expressed concern that despite efforts made in achieving the MDG target on water, diarrhea still remains a third killer of children under five, accounting for 10,000 deaths every year. According to him, these disease episodes and deaths put a lot of social stress on families and also drain household resources. He advised sector stakeholders and practitioners to find the best ways to effectively disseminate the message on how to keep water clean and safe at the household level, in a manner that will be acceptable across all socio-cultural spectrums.
Alhaji Collins Dauda, Minister for Water Resources Works and Housing expressed concern that, while countries have made efforts to provide access to safe water, a substantial proportion of populations still rely on unimproved sources; and even those who are blessed to draw their water from improved sources cannot guarantee the safety of the water during transportation from the source to household and storage. He was hopeful that a regional workshop like this will bring experiences from other countries like Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gambia, and Burkina Faso among others to help in the implementation/scaling up of HWTS in Ghana. The was stated in a welcome address read on the Minister's behalf by his deputy.
The first registered over 80 participants drawn from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Burkina Faso and largely Ghana. Mr. Ryan Rowe, the communications officer of the network outlined the objectives of the 3-day learning and sharing workshop as follows:
- Provide an overview of current national HWTS policy and regulatory environment in the participating countries;
- Identify strengths and challenges of the institutional environment and identity specific mechanism for scaling –up;
- Share lessons learned in policy formulation and implementation; and
- Strategize on overcoming challenges to scaling-up and sustaining HWTS though the drafting of national action plan towards the development of national strategies for implementation.
Ida Coleman, RCN Ghana