Monday, February 25, 2013

Ghana: Government failing water, sanitation sector – Water Aid report

Dr. Afia Zakiya (R), Water Aid - Country Rep launches the report
By Patrick Baidoo

The Government of Ghana is failing to keep its promises on funding for water and sanitation. This development is adversely affecting quality service delivery in the sector, a report launched by the International Development Charity Organization, Water Aid has revealed.

The report titled “Keeping Promises: Why African Leaders Need Now to Deliver on Their Past Water and Sanitation Commitments,” warns that unless investment is increased, the challenges of urbanization, inequality and access to basic facilities, climate change and population growth risk turning back the clock further on the minimum gains made so far. It covered Ghana, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

 According to Water Aid, between 2008 and 2011 Ghana has spent on average 0.34% of its GDP – Cedi 116.45 million - on water and sanitation combined.  This is far short of the 0.5% of GDP that the Government committed to spending on sanitation alone through the 2008 eThekwini African Union declaration.

The base for the report’s assertion which looked at financial commitments or financial promises made by governments in the countries was from various joint monitoring platforms (JMP). “Figures from the JMP showed clearly that funding on sanitation has fallen short of their public commitments.”

The JMP is a one stop data center where statistics on water and sanitation can be obtained.

Water Aid thus from the report calls on the Government of Ghana, alongside other African governments, to not only meet their 2008 eThekwini spending commitments of 0.5% of GDP, but to go further by aiming to spend at least 1% of GDP on sanitation and hygiene, in line with the recommendations of a 2011 World Bank report.

Based on the findings the Country Director, Water Aid-Ghana, Dr. Afia Zakiya during the out-door of the report in Accra recently stated that for Ghana to climb the development order it was important that basic water and sanitation facilities which will inure to the development process be provided.

To buttress the Water Aid – Ghana boss assertion the report stated, “From 1990 to 2010, the population of Ghana grew by 9.4 million, however only 2.3 million people secured access to sanitation over the same period.  In total, nearly 21 million out of 24 million people - 86% of the population – are without access to a safe improved toilet.  Almost 50% use shared latrines while 19% practice open defecation.

“Keeping to promises and using portions of monetary allocations for the poor and marginalized, and ensuring affordable user fees where ever they are is critical for socio-economic development. The report addresses contradiction between what people are saying and what they are doing,” she indicated.

Overview of Report

Giving an overview of the report, Mohammed Abdul Nashiru, Regional Advocacy Manager-Water Aid West-Africa, noted, “Promises abound but it is time to stop talking and act. The report is targeted at governments but also making sure that whatever is committed to the sector is used and used wisely to benefit all.”

He indicated that the overall under resource of the sector would affect the entire sectors of the economy and development because an efficient water and sanitation sector was central to human development.

“A proper and functioning Education, Health, Sports, and Agriculture sector, would deteriorate if the people drink contaminated water, lack toilet facilities and thus defecate discriminately. The health, education and other bills would rise and cause a breakdown in productivity,” he stressed.

The regional advocacy manager advised the media, institutions and government agencies to do things outside the box and become the drivers of change.

CONIWAS

On his part, the Executive Director of Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation, called for the issue of sustainability to be looked at critically since most of the facilities provided in the past had broken down.

“We must ensure responsibility in the sector, if not; we will be running the same cycle and won’t get anywhere,” he indicated.

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