Friday, November 22, 2013

People not caring about the environment is frustrating – WaterAid

Dr. Afia Zakiya
By Nathaniel Y. Yankson

The WaterAid Country Representative in Ghana, Dr. Afia Zakiya has described as very frustrating and disappointing instances where people tend not to care about their surroundings, particularly with the huge investments by donors and non-governmental organisations to ensure sustainable environments.

 With several campaign platforms and messages delivered for attitudinal change, people still expect the same donors and organisations to clean their mess without any commitment on their part.

Dr. Zakiya felt terrible that the things, which include by-laws, aimed at regulating improper disposal of human faeces, open defecation and throwing of garbage in gutters and unauthorised locations were inefficient and “too weak”.

Speaking to some journalists Monday ahead of the World Toilet Day in Accra, she expressed “I feel terrible. I feel it’s a disgrace that things are there that can help the sanitation crisis being resolved and they are not being enforced.”

Dr. Zakiya, on the other hand, argued that though it seemed frustrating, “you have to understand the reasons behind it before you pass judgment. It could be socio-cultural beliefs” as well instances where there are no such facilities.

In addition, she indicated it was provoking to know this could happen. “We raise these issues all the time. Sometimes, we see some results and sometimes the issues continue,” she said.

Available statistics suggest that every one gram of human faeces contain ten million viruses with one million bacteria.

One thousand parasite cysts and one hundred parasite eggs would all be found in this same gram of faeces.

When not properly disposed off or managed, they cause deadly diseases as diarrhoea and cholera as well as other infections in the human anatomy.

Diarrhoea is reported as the second most common disease, which kills young children in developing countries every 15 seconds.

In Ghana alone, about 4,000 infants die at the age of five years each year from diarrhoea. This has been attributed to poor sanitation and hygiene.

Further, Dr. Zakiya stated that more than 21 million of the citizenry, representing 87 per cent of Ghana’s population still did not have access to adequate sanitation.

“Poor sanitation impacts public health in many ways. Some of the most disturbing is the impact of poor sanitation on child health. Two of the most pressing issues are malnutrition and stunting. The ripple effect goes on to affect educational achievements and general wellness. Poor sanitation also has special impact on the well being of girls and women,” she emphasized.

She, moreover, urged the Ghanaian media to help divert public attention from politics to water and sanitation issues, believing that it would compel the people in authority to focus on the needs of attaining the universal access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

Policy Manager at the WaterAid Ghana office, Chaka Uzondu also called on the public to minimize the exposition of faecal waste since they were harmful to human survival in the environment.

To him, the Community Led-Total Sanitation (CLTS) required structural transformation to enable communities, access their rights to adequate and clean water.

He also advocated for more funding towards the execution of sanitation and hygiene projects in the country while making every level of production transparent.

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