Ghana risks losing out on achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal Six, if accelerated action is not taken to address gaps in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector.
“We are left with eight years and we are already in the fifth month of this year, so the realities are confronting us and we need to do something very fast, otherwise we are not sure we will be able to achieve it in eight years’ time because there is so much to do,” Mrs Kate Kumi, the Acting Country Director, WaterAid Ghana, said at the weekend.
She said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of the commissioning of a solar powered mechanised water system for Denugu, a farming community in the Garu District of the Upper East Region.
The integrated water facility, with a capacity to supply over 25,000 litres of water daily, and set to benefit more than 10,000 inhabitants, was provided by WaterAid Ghana, a WASH focused organisation, with funding from Guinness Ghana Breweries Limited.
The SDG Six, one of the 17 SDGs, mandates UN member states to take actions to ensure that all persons had access to clean water and sanitation by 2030.
Statistics from the 2021 Population and Housing Census revealed a huge gap in the WASH sector, particularly in the rural communities, hence the need for the Government to accelerate action to address the challenge.
Mrs Kumi said apart from the fact that access to WASH was a human right and must be made available to all, government must take lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and the demand for WASH facilities and build resilient systems to respond to emergencies.
She said many communities in Ghana, including healthcare facilities, did not have clean and safe WASH infrastructure and the situation was daunting, needing immediate interventions.
“In this part of the world, you will see people, especially women and children, travelling long distances in search of water and government, at all levels of district, regional and national, must identify the gaps and address them,” she added.
WASH had significant influence on the achievement of most of the SDGs, particularly Goal Three, which talks about access to quality healthcare, Mrs Kumi said.
That, she said, would also build the resilience of communities to contribute to the development of the local economy.
She said WaterAid Ghana had, over the years, worked in rural districts and communities to provide residents with easy access to WASH services, and reiterated its commitment to deepening the efforts.
However, collective effort from all stakeholders, including the private sector, was needed to make a positive impact and consolidate the gains made in the WASH sector during the peak of COVID-19, to propel the attainment of the SDGs.
“We need to lessen the burden on women and children having to search for water for hours and we cannot do it alone. We need everybody to come on board to ensure that gap is breached.”