Madam Cecilia Abena Dapaah, Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, says Ghana has always made strides towards the attainment of global targets and goals to improve the lives of the people.
She said Ghana achieved the then Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target for water in 2010, five years before the target date of 2025, but unfortunately same could not be achieved for sanitation.
The remark was made by Madam Dapaah when she attended the ‘Water Week 2023’ conference organised by the World Bank on February 27 in the United States of America.
The Minister was invited to share Ghana’s experience on progress being made to attain the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets by the end of 2030 on the issues of water, climate, action and innovation.
Madam Dapaah said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who is also a co-chair of the SDG Advocates Emeritus, realizing the huge challenge of attaining targets for Sanitation and to consolidate the gains made for water, set up a specific Ministry for Sanitation and Water Resources when he assumed office in 2017.
“The Ministry’s mandate is to enhance the development and management of Water Resources and the delivery of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene services to the good people of Ghana and also coordinate activities of the water and environmental sanitation sectors to ensure efficiency and productive use of resources,” she stated.
Madam Dapaah said the Ministry with strong support from the President and in collaboration with various partners remained resolute to ensure the attainment of the vision of leaving no one behind in the provision of safe water and enhanced sanitation services.
“Since 2017 an amount of US$ 1.397 Billion have been invested to expand water and sanitation services benefitting about 5,333,709 people.
“This huge investment has increased the population with access to basic drinking water services from 79 per cent in 2017/2018 to 87.7 per cent in 2021, whiles population with access to improved or basic access to household toilet facilities increased from 21 per cent in 2017/2018 to 25.3 per cent in 2021.
“We are working assiduously towards the attainment of the SDG target of getting water to all our households. As you all well know, the last mile is the most difficult. We have to reach the most ‘hard to reach’ population if we intend to succeed,” the Minister stated.
She said the World Bank through the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) Sanitation and Water Project supported the development of a National WASH Sector Development Programme to guide the work of all WASH actors, adding that the same project is supporting the review of the Environmental Sanitation Policy.
Madam Dapaah said under the same project, “we have provided over 40,000 household toilets to low-income beneficiaries and completed 406 disability-friendly, Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM)-considerate school toilets with separate blocks for girls and boys with locks for each cubicle to ensure privacy, water and soap for hand washing, and a sanitary disposal system to benefit over 251,872 school pupils.
“Additional, 42,000 household toilets and 150 disability-friendly and gender conscious institutional sanitation facilities are being constructed.”
She said with support from UNICEF, the Ministry has also reviewed the Water Policy, stating: “I was the Minister responsible for Water Resources under Ministry of Works and Housing in 2007 when we launched our first Water Policy, and we deemed it was time for review after 15 years of its implementation.”
The Minister said Ghana is endowed with a total renewable water resource base of about 53.2 billion m3/year, of which 30.3 billion m3/year are generated internally, with the Volta, South-western and Coastal River systems contributing 70 per cent, 22 per cent and eight, respectively.
“The current total withdrawal is approximately 13.4 per cent of the Total Actual Renewal Water Resources as at the end of 2021. The proportion of water bodies with good Ambient Water Quality increased from 51.5 per cent in 2017 to 58.2 per cent in 2021,” she stated.
“In view of the foregoing, the Ministry through the Water Resources Commission is executing targeted strategies and programmes that are critical to ensuring the regulation as well as the sustainable development and management of the country’s freshwater resources,” she said.
Madam told the audience that one key initiative is to improve the water storage capacity in the country especially within the Northern part of Ghana to mitigate the extreme forms of drought and flooding facing the regions.
“In addition, Ghana has forged a stronger and greater collaboration with Riparian countries to effectively harness and utilise transboundary water resources.”
“We are currently also focused on finding out more about our water resources. We need a full understanding of our groundwater potential, the quality and quantity.
“We are grateful and keen to work with the Bank on the realization of the Bank operation for water security which will look at effectively harnessing our water resource potential for rural development and sustainable growth,” concluded.