The Vice Chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural Resources, Professor (Mrs) Esi Awuah has stated that lack of knowledge in the WASH sector, coupled with corruption and nepotism has been the cause of poor service delivery in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector in Ghana.
Professor Esi Awuah said this at the opening of the 24thEdition of the MOLE Conference where she delivered the Theme Address. This year’s 3-days conference (14-16 August 2013) is being held in Kumasi, Ashanti Region.
The annual MOLE conference is organized by Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), a civil society in water and sanitation, to offer stakeholders in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector the opportunity to discuss issues affecting their operations, and deliberate on possible solutions that will help promote service delivery. It also aims at building stronger collaboration among sector stakeholders for a more efficient WASH service delivery.
This year’s conference is under the theme:''Building Effective Partnership for Scaling-Up Sustainable Sanitation Services in Ghana", with sub themes:
- Public- Private Partnership for Scaling-Up Sustainable Sanitation Delivery
- The Role of MMDAs in Sanitation Service Delivery
- Community's Perspective in solving Sanitation Challenges: opportunities and realities
- Sanitation and health linkages: a way out of Ghana's Sanitation Challenges?
Professor (Mrs) Esi Awua identified the key challenges facing the WASH sector service delivery to include lack of well-grounded knowledge in the sector, cultural behaviours and practices, political interferences, bribery and corruption, favouritism and nepotism. She however commended the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) for the creation of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate under the ministry and the increasing private sector involvement in issues relating to water and sanitation. This, she believes will help promoted the accelerated development of the sector.
Professor Esi Awuah also called on all WASH sector stakeholders to wean themselves of over dependence on foreign aid and donors for the development of the sector and provision of water and sanitation services because it is not sustainable.
She said “We have become over dependent on our partners so much so that we can’t do anything without their support and we are not willing to sacrifice anything on our own”. Professor Esi Awuah said this is because the current situation of dependence on aid is not sustainable because ‘as Ghana moves into a middle income country state these benefits will cease. Also because these development partners also have their own problems to deal with and with population growth in some of these countries, there will come a time where they can no longer continue to provide the support as they are currently doing. These therefore informs the need to learn to do it ourselves now before that time comes’. She advocated the need for Ghanaians to start paying for the waste they generate.
Professor (Mrs) Esi Awuah called on political authorities to put in place measures to raise concerns on environmental and sanitation issues and standards, including the implementation of relevant legislatives and their enforcement, public education on good sanitation practice. She said “There is little being achieved because of lack of collaboration and coordination, sometimes even competition between the three, Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Ministry of Education, who jointly have oversight responsibility over the WASH sector.
Touching of the theme for the conference, Professor (Mrs) Awuah said partnerships succeed based on relevance and mutual interest of the partners, commitment and passion to succeed and result oriented vision by the parties in the partnership to see it work. It is therefore important for WASH partners to ensure that they are committed to the course of the partnership to see it succeed.
Professor Awuah said the issue of plastics which are non-biodegradable and contributes to insanitary environment has become a thorny one. This is because as a result of unreliable and inadequate supply of water, people rely sachet water to complement what they get from other sources therefore banning the use of plastics without ensuring first adequate supplies of water could be very troubling since it will deprive people of water, despite the menace of the plastic bags/sachets.
Professor (Mrs) Awuah called on government to help provide or facilitate the provision sanitation facilities to schools and the deprived. This, she believes will help them live a more dignified life by stopping open defecation, prevent sanitation related diseases and good sanitation in schools. This, she said could help increase the sanitation coverage with the Millennium Development Goals which Ghana is far lagging behind the target.
Victor Narteh Otum