Wateraid Ghana, an international non-governmental organisation, has blamed Ghana’s sanitation crisis on the lack of will and commitment on the part of the government to deal with issues in the sector.
Speaking with a select group of journalists in Accra on Tuesday, on the current state of Ghana’s sanitation, the Country Representative of WaterAid Ghana, Dr Afia Zakiya, said, “A staggering 87 per cent of the population (more than 21 million people) do not have access to adequate sanitation.
The special press encounter was organised by WaterAid Ghana as part of activities lined up to commemorate World Toilet Day, which is now a United Nations designated day after its inception by the World Toilet Organisation in 2001.
Addressing the journalists, Dr Zakiya said, “As we speak, 3.5 million people in Ghana are still without access to safe water. In rural populations, lack of access to safe water is as high as 20 per cent.”
She said the Government of Ghana continued to fail to fulfil the promises made at the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High Level Meeting (HLM) in Washington in 2010 and 2012, while the GH¢350 million that was promised for the sector was yet to be delivered.
“Furthermore, this failure to fulfil a promise is done in a context where the budget for sanitation specifically has been considerably reduced (approximately 50 per cent from the previous year),” she said.
Dr Zakiya said that reduction had largely accounted for the crawling national sanitation coverage which had remained unchanged for the past few years, adding, “The government has the greatest responsibility in dealing with the sanitation problems of the country and must, therefore, lead in the process.”
She wondered if the non-subsidy approach adopted, known as community-led total sanitation (CLTS), had really worked, since some communities were so poor they could not afford their own toilet facilities.
“It is not always that money can solve all problems, but a little will help,” she stated, adding, “We are not saying everyone must have a flush toilet, as we have in the West, but we can have facilities that will adequately take care of our waste.”
Lessons worth learning
Dr Zakiya was, however, optimistic that Ghana could pick a few lessons from countries such as Ethiopia, Rwanda and South Africa, which had been able to achieve so much in sanitation coverage.
She asked for more monitoring and collaboration between the sector ministries of Water Resources Works and Housing and Local Government and Rural Development and the ministries of Education, Health, Finance and Gender and Social Protection.
Dr Chaka Uzondu, Policy Manager, WaterAid Ghana, said the media encounter was to raise the level of awareness of the proper management of liquid waste.
He said what Ghana needed was structural transformation and that it was not enough to demand behaviourial change when “we are still building open sewers”.
By Edmund Smith-Asante