Story: Samuel Duodu, Sunyani
THE Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment (MLGRDE), Mr Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, has challenged waste management experts in the country to come up with appropriate, low-cost sanitation technologies for the management of the ever-increasing quantities of the waste generated in the country.
“It is time for us to move away from the traditional ways of waste management and see waste as resources, which could be used to create wealth and generate employment opportunities. The concept of Waste Stock Exchange must be vigorously pursued,” he stressed.
Mr Adjei-Darko threw the challenge at the opening ceremony of a two-day annual review and planning meeting of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD) of the MLGRDE in Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The meeting was attended by about 43 participants, including Regional Health Environmental Officers, their deputies, programme officers from the MLGRDE/EHSD and civil society groups. Others were coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other related agencies in water and sanitation, representatives of some development partners, namely United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and the Royal Netherlands Embassy.
UNICEF sponsored the meeting.
Mr Adjei-Darko expressed concern about the filth that had engulfed cities and towns in the country; drains choked with garbage and excreta; open spaces, which should serve as recreational grounds turned into defecating and dumping sites, and littering at lorry parks and streets, among others, that had become a great source of public health concerns.
He added that more than 60 per cent of such morbidity cases as malaria and diarrhaeal diseases, which were reported at health facilities, were as a result of poor sanitation, which also accounted for most of the infant mortalities.
“Though low funding and inadequate capacity at the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) could be some of the factors militating against effective service delivery in the country, indiscipline and ignorance on the part of the citizenry had been the major setback,” Mr Adjei-Darko stressed.
He stated that his ministry, in collaboration with other sector players and development partners, had put in place the required strategies to improve the situation.
The minister stated that, apart from those strategies to improve sanitation, the ministry had also put in place the necessary legal and regulatory framework to ensure that sanitation laws of the MMDAs were rigidly enforced.
He said to prove the ministry’s commitment to ensuring sanitation discipline in all communities throughout the country, 2,000 sanitation guards had been deployed in the 138 MMDAs to assist environmental health officers in education and law enforcement.
According to the minister, reports reaching him from most of the MMDAs indicated very positive results.
The Director, EHSD of the MLGRDE, Naa Leneson Demedeme, said the meeting was to evaluate the impact of the programmes and activities put in place last year by the directorate, as well as evolve new strategies for the year.
He said the United Nations had declared 2008 as an international year of sanitation to sensitise politicians to make sanitation a top priority.
Naa Demedeme stated that plans were underway to start Bachelor of Science degree programme in Environmental Sanitation at the School of Public Health (SPH), Legon, and a diploma course in Water and Sanitation at the University of Cape Coast.
He said the primary aim was to build the capacity of the staff and the graduates from the School of Hygiene.