Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High Level Meetings (HLMs) are held every two years since the formation of SWA platform in 2009.
It started in 2010, alongside the World Bank spring meeting. The meetings bring together ministers responsible for finance, water and sanitation from developing countries, ministers of development cooperation from donor countries, high-level representatives from development banks, and representatives of leading sanitation and water agencies.
The aim is to ensure that all governments show strong commitment towards the water and sanitation sectors of their countries, by stating clearly the actions they would take in ensuring water and sanitation for all. Ghana has since 2010 participated in all three HLM (2010, 2012 and 2014) and made commitments to the WASH sector at the HLM meetings.
2014 SWA Pledges:
The 2014 SWA meeting was convened by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on behalf of the SWA Partnership chaired by former President of Ghana, John Agyekum Kufuor and hosted by the World Bank. President John Kufour is the immediate chairperson of SWA.
Ghana was represented at the 2014 SWA HLM by the Minister of Finance, Mr. Seth Terkper and Ministers responsible for sanitation and water, Mr. Akwasi Opong-Fosu and Alhaji Collins Dauda respectively, who together with two other technical staff from the two ministries, also represented Ghana at a Sector Ministers’ Meeting (SMM) on April 10.
In 2010 government of Ghana made commitments totaling US$350 million and in 2012 made US$400 million for the water and sanitation sector at the SWA HLMs. But government has been accused by sector players of not fulfilling most of these pledges. These pledges weren’t fulfilled during an earlier assessment by members of the Ghana WATSAN journalists Network. CONIWAS assessment of GoG for 2012 revealed around 62% achievement. Yet, the WASH sector is still reeling with woefully inadequate government financing from the national kitty.
Government’s Commitments for 2014:
For the 2014 meeting the Government of Ghana pledged a total annual investment of US$170 million in the water and sanitation sector.This is made up of an annual injection of US$120 million for water and US$50 million for sanitation. Unfortunately, the 2015 national budget did not feature this amount. Even the promised 4,000 borehole project implemented by national security has slowed down, and some boreholes capped for over one –year without hand-pumps denying poor communities access to safe water and sanitation.
For water development partners and private sector were to cater for the financial gap of US$469 million, while for sanitation, the difference in financing to be taken up by development partners, the private sector and individual households each year, is put at US$352 million, thus bringing the total annual investment to US$402 million.
The overall annual investment envisaged for Ghana’s water and sanitation sector after the 2014 HLM, which will be under the theme “Smart investments to achieve water, sanitation and hygiene for all”, is therefore US$639 million.
Ghana’s government further made series of commitments: In the coming days, members of the Ghana WATSAN journalists Network will make public through an extensive assessment exercise the exact performance of government on its specific Commitments for 2014.
The 2016 national budget which will be read in parliament should reflect these promised commitments. Government can stop the needless deaths of children and women who lack access to safe water and sanitation by investing to make water, sanitation and hygiene services (WASH) a reality.
As a country, we cannot pay lip service to public financing of WASH. We must change in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) era, else, 2030 vision of everyone everywhere will be challenged.