Stakeholders within the Awutu-Senya East Municipal Assembly (ASEMA) in the Central Region have renewed their commitment to improve sanitation and hygiene in the Municipality.
This came to light during a municipal level stakeholders’ coordination meeting to discuss emerging issues from previous interface interactions following the launching of the Voice For Change (V4C) programme and stakeholders’ forum.
The V4C is an evidence-based advocacy programme being implemented by SNV (Netherlands Development Organization) in partnership with the International Food and Policy Research Institute and funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The five-year programme (2016-2020} seeks to strengthen Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to advocate an enabling environment in which governments and businesses provide good and affordable services for low-income segments in society.
The meeting was organized by Intervention Forum (IF), a non-governmental organization (NGO), in collaboration with SNV and several partner organizations. The participants included officials of the ASEMA, including Municipal Environmental Health, budget, planning, Community Development, National Commission for Civic Education(NCCE) and Education officers, Zoomlion and other private waste collectors, Financial Institutions, Traditional authorities as well as assembly members, zonal councils and unit committees, Sanitation and hygiene Advocacy team and residents. Madam Nora Ollennu, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IF, in a 13-point presentation, highlighted emerging issues on sanitation and hygiene emanating from previous engagements. These ranged from existing low levels of intra-coordination between the Environmental Health Service Department (EHSD) and other departments, inter-collaboration between the Assembly and other key actors such as traditional heads and Assembly members, and low level of collaboration and information sharing between Zoomlion and the Assembly. Others were the level of participation by the substructures, that is the Assembly members and Unit Committee members, in performance review meetings organized by the EHSD, issue of water-logged nature of Kasoa and its environs that militated against improved toilet construction; increased budgetary allocation for sanitation and creation of Municipal Environmental Sanitation Fund, as well as the non-existence of a medium-term Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) plan and budget for the EHSD. Other issues bordered on effective regulation of private waste contractors operating in the Municipality, and the considerable amount of Assembly funds spent on summoning and prosecution of sanitary offenders, resourcing and periodic capacity strengthening of area councils. The rest were the resourcing of the EHSD in the execution of its day-to-day activities, limited private sector involvement in sanitation and hygiene, and citizens’ complaints about Zoomlion’s visibility and late haulage of solid waste resulting from the decreased number of hired waste collectors and low remuneration levels.
The participants, while agreeing on the need to intensify their collaboration, raised concerns about the low level of information on sanitation and hygiene within the communities, and called for collaboration with the Information Services Department for effective information on sanitation and hygiene issues.
They also expressed worry that low budgetary allocation to especially the Assembly’s Environmental Health Department for sanitation and hygiene did not allow for sustained education and information. In this direction, the participants proposed the setting up of a sanitation fund while also identifying financial institutions for assistance. They again expressed the need to craft a Medium-Term Development Plan and finalize a Monitoring and Evaluation Plan that would address bottlenecks militating against their efforts to ensure a clean environment. The stakeholders called for a review of the status of private waste contractors through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to be ready for signing early next year, and the collation of data on their clients for easy collaboration and coordination. They kicked against the present order whereby fines imposed on sanitation offenders were paid to the central government’s consolidated Fund, proposing that some percentage must go to the Municipal Assembly. Madam Ollennu made known to the stakeholders the upcoming V4C National level Advocacy on Sanitation and Hygiene which will bring on board other key actors working in the WASH sector to help address such issues. The meeting agreed on the need for the ASEMA to procure digital cameras and computers for evidence gathering by the environmental health officers to present their cases for possible financial and logistic support. The stakeholders also decided to form an advocacy team comprising environmental officials, Information Services Department, National Commission for Civic Education, Department of Social Welfare and Ghana Education Service, Traditional Authorities, Assembly’s sub-structures, as well as private waste collectors for effective monitoring of sanitation and hygiene matters.
Mr Bernard A. Dankwah, Presiding Member of ASEMA, lauded the stakeholders for their effort to improve sanitation and hygiene within the municipality but encouraged them to sustain the commitment they had shown to ensure the success of the programme.
Nai Kojo Larbi, Bemuhene of Ofaakor, representing traditional authorities, bemoaned the sidelining of chiefs who exercise authority over the citizens and called for more information flow and coordination and consultation in all matters concerning
sanitation and hygiene.
Traditional authorities, he assured the stakeholders, were ever ready to give a listening ear to the problems with a view to ensuring the progress and development of the Awutu Senya traditional area.