The United Nations has urged the Government to increase public finance in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and create an enabling environment for private sector and users to invest in sustainable water and sanitation services.
Dr Charles Abani, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Ghana, who made the call in a speech read on his behalf, said that was necessary to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG-Six) to ensure safe water and sanitation for the population.
He said the current public sector investment in WASH, estimated to be around $100 million per year, was only a fraction of what was needed to achieve the SDG-Six targets by 2030.
Dr Abani made the call during this year’s World Water Day celebration, held at Walewale in the West Mamprusi Municipality of the North-East Region.
The event was organised by Catholic Relief Services (CRS), an international NGO, and partners including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Ghana Coalition of NGOs in the Water and Sanitation Sector (CONIWAS), and Afram Plains Development Organisation.
It was on the theme: “Accelerating Change to solve the Water and Sanitation Crisis,” which also marked the 30th anniversary of the World Water Day.
It focuses attention on the sustainable use of water and reassesses commitment to helping to address the global water crisis by 2030.
Dr Abani said: “Climate change is affecting access to water in several parts of Ghana, especially in the North. The UN is supporting the government to assess the climate related risks to WASH infrastructure.”
“A study is underway to map-out all the risks faced by WASH infrastructure and services. The findings will help develop the operational guidelines and minimum standards for climate and shock resilient WASH solutions in Ghana.”
Mrs Basilia Nanbigne, the Executive Secretary of CONIWAS, whose speech was read on her behalf, called on government to be aggressive in setting up a national agenda that would change focus from “Basic Services Delivery” to “Safely Managed Services”.
This would bring all partners in the sector to re-focus their work in line with delivering safely managed services to communities to contribute to meeting set targets.
“The rural water sub-sector reforms are good initiatives aimed at improving water service delivery in rural areas. Nevertheless, CONIWAS recommends comprehensive sector reforms that address institutional, regulatory, human resource, governance, funding and technological aspects of WASH.”
Mr Emmanuel Kogo, the Acting Head of Programmes, CRS, called for attitudinal change towards water sources, saying: “We cannot be advocating increased investment in water infrastructure and service delivery on one hand while we are deliberately destroying water sources and catchments on the other.”
Madam Cecilia Abena Dapaah, the Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, in a speech read on her behalf, said; “Government has prioritised the provision of clean water in towns and villages. We are vigorously working to increase the provision of potable water and improved sanitation to thousands of households.”
“Notwithstanding these efforts, human activities such as illegal mining, sand mining, discharge of waste into the rivers and waterbodies, clearing of vegetation along river course, floods and drought as well as climate change pose threats to the gains we have made in the provision of clean water to Ghanaians.”
She, therefore, called on all to stop mining sand from the rivers, stop discharging waste into drains, as well as protect nature by planting trees or creating rain gardens to reduce risk of floods.