The Government of Ghana has been asked as a key measure of improving access to water, to disseminate the water policy to the majority of Ghanaians, to enhance implementation of the policy.
Head of Policy and Partnership at WaterAid Ghana, Mr Ibrahim Musah, said policy distribution or dissemination by translating it into local languages for the citizenry to understand has not been done.
Speaking to the Ghana Watsan Journalists Network (GWJN) on WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Radio over the weekend on Radio XYZ in Accra, he said though some institutions and civil society organisations have captured areas of the Ghana Water Policy in the English language, a deliberate attempt has not been made to bring it to the people, hence only about 40 per cent of the Ghanaian populace are aware of the policy.
Ibrahim Musah, who spoke on the topic: "Implementation of Ghana's Water Policy - Successes, Challenges and the Way Forward" thus enjoined the district assemblies in particular, to as the law demands, disseminate the policy. Though he noted that the ignorance of the law is no excuse, he added that dissemination of the policy will create awareness of the policy for people to abstain from illegalities such as pollution of water bodies.
“There is heavy pollution of our water bodies and you will even want to cry when you see the devastation. The Weija Dam and Densu River are heavily polluted. This has been affecting water provision, as the Ghana Water Company has to spend a lot of money to treat the water. It is only the Kpong water that is not polluted. Pollution of water bodies is an illegality and people must refrain from it,” he stated.
The WaterAid Ghana Policy and Partnership Head added that the low awareness created on the policy has also enhanced the pollution of water bodies by community members with impunity. “The area of enforcement on how people should tap into water bodies - for example people have drilled boreholes in their homes without permit,” he said.
Mr. Ibrahim Musah however lauded the promulgation of the policy, as it has so far chalked some success. He said the policy over the years since 2007, has been useful in helping to promote the availability and usage of water.
“There have been major achievements in terms of coordination. Also, NGOs and other civil society organisations have been able to collaborate with government without duplicating roles and contradicting them,” he added.
Noting that due to increase in population there have been major challenges with urban water and small town water provision, Musah urged government to seriously tackle the water sector.
He added that with the coming in of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), there has been an improvement, with the Community Water and Sanitation Agency’s (CWSA) report in 2011 putting rural water coverage at 64%; while the GWCL report put urban water coverage at 63% in 2011.
Asking community members and opinion leaders to help protect water bodies, Ibrahim Musah also commended government for instituting the taskforce which is tackling the illegal miners polluting Ghana’s water bodies but urged that the initiative should not be a nine-day wonder.
By Yvette Appiah
(GWJN, Ghana Watsan Journalists Network)