Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) has called on government to increase financial allocation to drinking water supply to ensure equity in water delivery in the country.
Government must also ensure that investments made from such funds prioritise the needs of the poor and vulnerable to close inequality gap.
According to CONIWAS, if there is deliberate government intention, backed by real action to balance the current inequalities in water supply, too many people in the country, particularly the poor and the most vulnerable, would sadly be left behind.
Mr Attah Arhin, the Vice Chairman of CONIWAS, who made the call at a World Water Day media engagement prior to the celebration on Friday March 22, said a survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service revealed that there were vast inequalities in water supply across the country irrespective of one’s status or jurisdiction.
It was sponsored by the UNCEF and Wold Vision International.
According to the survey, the rich person in Ghana is 46 per cent more likely to have access to improved source of drinking water than the poor.
That, Mr Arhin said, meant that as a country, there were no adequately developed mechanisms to protect the poor and people living in low income communities from using unimproved drinking water sources.
“According to the report, whereas 98 per cent of people living in the Greater Accra region have access to improved basic water supply services, only 50 per cent in the Northern region for instance have access to improved water supply, leaving a whooping gap of 48 per cent between the two regions,” he added.
“Again, in Ghana today, if you choose to live in a rural area, you are 25 per cent less likely to have access to improved basic drinking water sources compared to someone living in an urban area”.
Mr Arhin said those inequalities in resource allocation for water supply further entrenched poverty among the poor, since they were compelled to spend more time fetching water than their richer counterparts.
“For instance, whereas about 32 per cent of rural dwellers spent more than an hour a day searching for water, people in urban areas are only 13 per cent likely to spent over an hour in search for drinking water.
“Time spent in search of water can further reduce one’s productive hours and thereby continue to trap in a perpetual cycle of poverty. Again, while only one per cent of urban dwellers still drink from surface water sources, up to 16 per cent of rural dwellers drink from surface water sources”.
He said CONIWAS was of the view that as a country “we cannot allow background circumstances, income or educational levels to determine who drinks water from improved or contaminated sources. Afterall, it is the fundamental right of every human being to be provided access to clean drinking water”.
Mr Arhin, therefore, appealed to the government to strengthen all Ministries, Departments and Agencies and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to coordinate and direct resource allocations with the objectives of reducing inequalities.
The Coalition at the same time called on its members and their partners to deeply reflect on adherence to country systems that were aimed at providing direction for resource allocation for the sake of balancing inequalities.
“We need to understand that if we refuse to be coordinated by government, then we cease to have the moral justification to call for improved coordination by government,” he said.
He expressed the hope that tomorrow’s celebration would trigger immediate and coordinated response from government and all other stakeholders towards reducing inequalities to ensure that no person is left behind in the supply of sustainable safe water irrespective of where they lived and how much income they earned.
Ms Basilia Nanbigne, Executive Secretary of CONIWAS, reiterated the need to prioritise the sector and called on MMDAs and sector agencies to collaborate to achieve the target by 2025, Ghana’s own target to achieve the SDGs six, instead of the general target of 2030.
She said most MMDAs do not prioritise allocation for WASH instead, they do same for education, health, among other and called on them to increase allocation they give to water and sanitation in their districts, adding that “water is life”.