State must have dedicated budget to solve dire WASH needs at basic schools

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Health Wash Schools
Health Wash Schools

Mr Ramesh Bhusal, Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), and representative of UNICEF in Ghana, says the State must have a dedicated budget allocation annually to solve the dire WASH needs at basic schools across the country. 

He said: “Ghana has a $70 billion economy that cannot continue to leave a significant number of basic schools not having WASH facilities.” 

Speaking at the Sustainable WASH in Schools Forum organised by Pencils of Promise, a Non-Governmental Organisation, Mr Bhusal said clean water usage was still non existent in schools, there are either no toilets or ones that are malfunctioning and sending adrift from the universal access to water by all in 2030.

It was said at the forum that three out of ten basic schools in Ghana do not have access to clean and improved sanitation, four in 10 schools do not have basic hygiene systems.

Nine girls out of 10 were said to miss school during their menstrual period. 

That, the WASH chief said was a hindrance to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4 and 6 which call for good health and well-being; quality education; clean water and sanitation.

Mr Bhusal said a study conducted in Kenya in 2020, indicated that 40 per cent of communicable diseases among school children were acquired in schools because of different backgrounds.

He however said, Ghana’s challenges were in two fold: one being reaching out to schools that lacked facilities and the other was unsustainable WASH programmes in schools that had the facilities, where most schools could not pay their bills and repair their taps.

Mr Ramesh Bhusal said work and investments there had all been left to charity and goodwill of people whose funds were dwindling particularly in the face of the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda introduced by President Akufo Addo

“I don’t see any strong kind of evidence on the ground that funding will be increased for WASH in schools. There is no dedicated budget in Ministry of Education for WASH in schools. That’s the fact,” he said. 

He called on Ghana to have in place a sustainable approach where government would make available dedicated budget to tackle WASH challenges across public basic schools.

“We have a mandate to help member states to do well in the sector, clean WASH environment improves Attendance, impacts greatly learning and improves hygiene,” the Chief WASH added.

Mr Freeman Gobah, Ghana Country Director, Pencils of Promise, told the Agency the figures were staggering, and they were working to provide sustainable WASH facilities and programmes to schools in the Volta, Eastern and Oti Regions.

“We need the Government to allocate key resources to the sector through the district assemblies to solve the sanitation problems in schools which would reflect in the communities in which we work,” he said.

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