A representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Ghana, Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, has called on the government to consider increasing the budgetary allocation for the sanitation sector to help communities in the country to live in a healthy and disease-free environment.
“At present, the budgetary allocation for that sector is extremely low, with the sector heavily reliant on donors. Development partners provide over 90 per cent of resources for water and sanitation in Ghana,” she observed.
Dr Haque made the call when she delivered a statement on behalf of Ghana’s development partners at the 2008 annual performance review and planning meeting of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in Sunyani last Thursday.
She urged the government to make water and sanitation issues a national priority.
“It is indeed worthy of note that the issue of sanitation has received attention in the manifestos published during the recent elections. The new government also stated its aspiration to improve sanitation for a better Ghana. On this note we would like the government to consider the budgetary allocation for the sector,” she stressed.
Dr Haque said development partners had noted that in Ghana just 10 per cent of the population used improved sanitation facilities and when the use of shared latrine facilities were included this increased to 51 per cent.
Furthermore, she stated that out of 54 African countries assessed in 2006 by the World Health Organisation and the UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for the 2nd African Conference on Sanitation, Ghana was placed 51st, only ahead of Chad, Niger and Eritrea.
“This clearly presents a major challenge to the government, development partners and other stakeholders to focus on strategic measures to accelerate progress in the country, especially if we are to work towards an open defecation-free environment,” she stated.
Dr Haque, however, commended the EHSD for the progress being made in establishing mechanisms and systems to strengthen capacity and ensure that the people of Ghana lived in a healthy and disease-free environment.
Mr Michael Owusu Amoako, Deputy Director, Brong Ahafo Regional Co-ordinating Council, who chaired the open ceremony, in his remarks called for attitudinal and behavioural change on the part of all citizens to help make every community clean and disease free so that each individual would be healthy to contribute his or her quota to national development.
To that end the new government has made sanitation part of its initial critical issues to be tackled within the first 100 days and has, therefore, asked all regions and districts to launch their sanitation week.
Saturday, February 21 has been set aside for the Brong Ahafo Region to launch its sanitation week.