The 34th annual MOLE Conference on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Ghana opened in Jirapa in the Upper West Region on Monday.
Dubbed MOLE XXXIV, the conference attracted more than 150 participants from the WASH sector including government officials, officials of local and international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in WASH, development partners, traditional leaders, and the diplomatic community.
Opening the conference, Freda Akosua Prempeh, Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, urged Ghanaians to join hands to fight the canker of illegal mining, which has exacted a heavy toll on the country’s water bodies.
Hon. Prempeh lamented the high and unsustainable cost of water treatment by Ghana Water Limited, due to water pollution through illegal mining.
She added that the persistent water pollution through illegal mining was a threat to sustainable access to water in Ghana and threatened a sustainable achievement of the water delivery component of the Sustainable Development Goal-6.
“The greatest enemy for the safe water delivery in Ghana is the galamsey menace. As WASH stakeholders, we need to make our voices heard on the on-going discussions aiming at stopping galamsey,” the minister said.
Coupled with that, she said the negative impacts of Climate Change such as floods, droughts and rising sea levels have also had negative impacts on the provision of WASH Services within the country.
The minister urged, “The time has come for us to be innovative to ensure the provision of resilient and sustainable WASH Infrastructure. The provision of such infrastructure is essential not only for public health but also for sustainable development, environmental protection, and community resilience.”
She urged the development partners to expand their support to include the Water Resources Commission, the custodian of all water bodies in the country, to deepen their water protection activities and safeguard sustainable access to safe drinking water in Ghana.
The conference is being organized by the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), under the theme, “Building Inclusive and Resilient WASH Systems to Reach the Unserved.”
Welcoming participants, Beata Awinpoka Akanyani, Chairperson of CONIWAS, said the 34th edition of the MOLE Conference also marked the 20th anniversary of the active partnership and contribution of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to the WASH sector in Ghana with CONIWAS as the long-standing CSO body advancing WASH issues nationally and internationally.
“The conference theme has been selected carefully to mark this milestone as CONIWAS members have made tremendous contributions to WASH delivery, innovation, research, equity, and inclusion, monitoring, evaluation, and learning, resulting in safe WASH delivery at local levels,” said Ms. Akanyani.
She added that the 34th MOLE conference would provide the platform for stakeholders to share ideas on how to build resilient WASH systems to ensure access for the unserved.
Naa Pagranege Sarkoe Mornah III, Chief of Sankana and member of the Upper West Regional House of Chiefs, chaired the opening ceremony, urging both the government and non-state actors in the sector to intensify their efforts to ensure universal WASH access in Ghana by 2030.