The country’s Millennium Development Goals for 2015 for access to improved drinking water and improved sanitation are 78 and 53 percent respectively, but with Ghana doing just 14 percent in the area of Sanitation, it would take a “miracle” to achieve its target, he claimed.
He was speaking at the unveiling of Goodwill Ambassadors by WaterAid Ghana to dedicate their time and effort in addressing the problems of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in the country through advocacy and fundraising.
They are Nana Kobina Nketia V, Paramount Chief of Essikado Traditional Area; actress Ms Akofa Ejeani Asiedu, radio personalities Ms Shamima Muslim and Nathaniel Kwabena Anokye Adisi (Bola Ray). The rest are Efya Awindor, musicians Ben Brako and Wilhelmina Abu-Andani (Mimi) and gold-winning paralympic Hajara Mohammed.
Dr Ahmed called for attitudinal change in people’s approach to sanitation and also appealed to the “conscience” of landlords to introduce toilet facilities as well as stop the habit of converting existing facilities into accommodation.
Madam Theodora Adomako-Adjei, Extension Services Coordinator of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency, who chaired the occasion, lamented the low attention given to issues related to sanitation.
She noted that because of the inadequate attention people are losing their dignity. She explained that it was common to find both the young and adult shamelessly indulging in open defecation.
Madam Adomako-Adjei said most cases at the outpatient department (OPD) in hospitals are water and sanitation related.
Dr Afia Zakiyah, Country Representative, WaterAid, noted: “As a country we can say that we are in a water and sanitation crises, the situation in Ghana being a dire one, with just 14% sanitation coverage as at 2010.”
She said a study by WaterAid revealed that approximately 19,000 Ghanaians including 5,100 children under-five years, die each year from diarrhoea – nearly 90% of which is directly attributed to poor water, sanitation and hygiene.
“In this campaign, we will and we can succeed. We need thousands of like-minded people to take action and show our governments and other duty-bearers at all levels that water and sanitation is crucial for human survival. We should tell our leaders and policy makers that investing in taps and toilets is an investment in basic human needs and an urgent priority. School children need taps, and toilets in schools and their homes.”
Mr Ben Brako, on behalf of fellow Ambassadors, was grateful to WaterAid for seeing the potential in them to help improve the level of improved sanitation in Ghana, and promised the commitment of the Ambassadors to the cause of the programme.
The objectives of the WaterAid Ghana WASH Ambassador Initiative include: promoting behavior change towards improved health and hygiene education and cleanliness; and improving political prioritization of WASH to fight WASH poverty.
WaterAid Ghana is an international non-governmental organization dedicated to the provision and making accessible safe drinking water, basic sanitation and hygiene to the underprivileged people in deprived districts and communities in Ghana.