The 24th edition of the Mole Conference series has opened in Kumasi, under the theme “Building Effective Partnership for Scaling-Up Sustainable Sanitation Services in Ghana”.
The three-day national conference was opened by HE John Dramani Mahama, the President of the Republic of Ghana. Delivering the keynote address on behalf of the president, Mr. P. V. Obeng, Senior Presidential Advisor reflected on the current level of access to improved toilets of 15% against the MDG target of 54% with just 29 months to go, and admitted that this was an indication that all was not well with our sanitation management.
The president urged the conference to focus on building ‘new coalitions of the willing’ that ‘will appreciate our limitations, codify our sanitation challenges and apply appropriate technologies to improve access to sanitation services. According to him the new partnership should also focus on effective and workable communication and dissemination strategies, simplified to the level of the target audience.
The President challenged CONIWAS to come up with practical implementable proposals that could be incorporated into the Successor National Medium Term Development Plan, which is currently under review.
Delivering the theme address, Prof Mrs. Esi Awuah commended CONIWAS and sector players for the progress made so far, but indicated that the battle was far from over. She mentioned achievements such as the creation of the Environmental Heath and Sanitation Directorate and the development of the sub-sector strategy documents, but expressed worry over implementation and enforcement. Prof. Mrs. Awuah stated that considering the low level of government knowledge of the sector, they deserved commendation for the support given so far. She called for closer collaboration among government, civil society and development partners to deepen understanding of the crisis at hand and to ensure effective monitoring and implementation of various sanitation interventions.
Dr. Doris Yaa Dartey, the Board Chair of Graphic Communication Group recalled past Mole series and commended CONIWAS for the moderate achievement so far, but reminded all that the sanitation crisis was still the reality. In her acceptance comments as the chair of the opening session, Dr. Dartey urged all to take the management of the waste we generate seriously because ‘sanitation is at the heart of our country’s development’. She cautioned that we should be careful that the sanitation crisis does not become a norm because, according to her, when crisis pertains for a long time it becomes the norm.
Mr. Farouk Braimah, the CONIWAS Chair and the Ashanti Regional Minister had earlier took turns to welcome participants to the conference and to the region respectively. Short statements were made by the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development and the Development Partner Lead.
The dignitaries led by Mr. PV Obeng later opened the conference exhibition, which is a key side event of the Mole series.
The tree-day conference has so far registered over 140 participants from communities, civil society organizations, and academia, government and development partners among others.
- Abu Wumbei/RCN Ghana