Friday, November 22, 2013

Education, punitive punishments are key to save Ghana’s poor sanitation conditions – Stakeholders

Some traditional leaders at the forum
By Patrick Baidoo

Representatives of Nima, Ashaiman, Ada and Mallam communities all in Greater Accra region, at a crisis talk on sanitation and hygiene have described the national sanitary conditions in their localities as devastating and endangering human lives.
They said open defecation and indiscriminate defecation is rampant while open gutters at lorry stations and market centres are choked with polythene bags stuffed with human excreta. A situation which they fear may halt development in the country if care was not taken to reverse the condition.

Hence they have called for the provision of sanitation facilities, intensity of education on open defecation and enforcement of sanitation related bylaws on all fronts to save the national poor sanitary conditions since indiscipline on the part of the populace was contributing to this alarming situation.

The representatives contend that although sanitation facilities are inadequate, implementation of bylaws which compels house owners to provide toilets in their households and the laws that abhor littering as well as open defecation should be enforced.

“The inabilities of Assemblies and law enforcement agencies to prosecute persons who flout these sanitation laws have compounded the situation and this must be reversed”, Nii Annang Adzor, Chief of Ashaiman noted. “The situation on the weak enforcement of Assemblies’ sanitation related bylaws, sheer indiscipline, corruptible attitude, and breakdown in traditional and lack of public education”, he indicated.

He called for immediate government intervention and intensive public education the need for safe and clean environment and construction of toilet facilities in households.

“When people don’t have adequate clean water, effective pathogens flourish and cause infectious diseases”, the Chief noted.

On his part, Mr. Lumor Gershon, Mallam WASH Chairman said indiscriminate dumping and open defecation had hit the highest degree of 80 percent while the Nima representative Hafis, noted that insanitary conditions were at an alarming 90 percent, attributing the condition to lack of toilet facilities and sanitary containers.

He said the situation was compounded by the improper housing layout, erratic flow of pipe borne water and failure of policy makers to engage communities in the initiation, implementation and monitoring of projects.

Hence the community representatives called for the implementation of bylaws on sanitation to ensure compliance and save the environment.

About 22 million people in Ghana lack access to adequate toilet facilities with devastating consequences for their wellbeing, health, education and empowerment of women and girls.

While four out of five women in Ghana risk shame, disease, harassment and even attack because they have no where safe to go to toilet. Additionally more than 2 million have no choice but to toilet in the open.

Chaka Uzondu, Policy Manager of Water Aid said in - spite of the horrifying situation, sanitation issues are marginalized in the media and on all fronts with low public discourse hence the need for practical solutions.

He called on government to increase funding to initiate and implement sanitation policies at the national and local levels and urged the media to find prudent ways of raising awareness on the matter.

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