Development strategies have been means that seek to cause the continuous progress of human beings and their societies. Over the years development practitioners have realised that development is incomplete if it is unsustainable.
Sustainability is in two ways: that, after an initiative is taken to share information for the progress of a people, it should be continued with the adopters leading the way; then, whatever development initiative and knowledge is shared among stakeholders, it shouldn’t endanger future generation.
National Sanitation Day, an initiative that was launched as part of measures to get our environments clean to prevent the repetition of the cholera epidemic that took over this nation in 2014. This initiative received much hype at birth; the story is no longer the same. This is because the whole initiative was mooted at the national level and there hasn’t been a link to ensure that the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) lead the way.
In an interview on GBC’s current affairs programme, Behind the News, Mr. Ben Arthur, former executive secretary of CONIWAS, the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation, stated that the National Sanitation Day begun without the consideration of mechanisms to enhance its adoption and sustainability by the MMDAs.
The above assertion reveals how this initiative has been focused only on the efforts of ministers and policy makers at the national level – an evidence of “top-downism”. The MMDAs are supposed to lead the way in issues that concern sanitation. The genesis of the filth that has engulfed our cities and towns is a consequence of negligence of duties and responsibilities by the MMDAs.
The MMDAs have been collecting revenues and also have access to District Assembly Common Fund which has a provision for sanitation; therefore, it isn’t the lack of financial resources. The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Government must begin to put its acts together and ensure that MMDAs and the Environmental Health Directorate don’t slack in performing a duty that they have been mandated to undertake.
Sanitation is a crucial matter. It’s one of the development issues that have been specified in the Sustainable Development Goals, 2015. Sanitation is captured in Goal Six (6) with its accompanied targets, “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. The only way to achieve this goal is to mount the needed pressure on MMDAs to achieve this nationally and at the grass root level.
National Sanitation is a laudable idea; it is one thing to bring a laudable idea, and another, to ensure its implementation by the relevant agencies. Since its launch, the day – the first Saturday of every month, has been graced by a Minister for Local Government and Rural Development or the deputy.
This trend since its inception has not helped its sustainability; the day and the activity revolves around the minister or the deputy, instead of the Mayors and Chief Executives who live in the towns and cities. Consequently, in the absence of the minister or the deputy, there is no show – a clear evidence of eye-service.
It’s high time the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development took a second look at the National Sanitation Day, and compel the Mayors and Chief Executives to deliver. This is an initiative that must not die because of the ineptitude of Mayors and Chief Executives of the MMDAs. This is a national matter and must be taken on with all the seriousness that it deserves.
One of the challenges that have bedeviled development initiatives is inconsistency of communication strategies. In every Communication for Development Strategy there’s the need to consider the possibility of a relapse in the adopters. Thus, communication for development must be deepened to ensure total participation of the citizenry in the National Sanitation Day.
In fact, development can be summed as, sharing information and acquiring knowledge, adopting the acquired knowledge and practicing this knowledge.
Another issue that defeats this initiative is, the MMDAs collect revenues to ensure that public places are kept clean, yet the citizenry are made to clean those public places that the MMDAs are supposed to clean. This is illogical. It is true that sanitation is a shared responsibility; the MMDAs must lead the way in this shared responsibility, because they’ve been mandated by law to take up such responsibilities.
Sanitation is a development issue; it must attract all needed attention. Mayors, Chief Executives and the Environmental Health Directorate must be up and doing to ensure a clean Ghana.
A clean Ghana is a healthy Ghana; a healthy Ghana is the one where SDG Six becomes a reality.