The UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, said water provision and services must meet the needs of marginalised groups while funding must fairly and effectively target those who need it the most.
She said billions of people in the world were living without safe water, including marginalised groups such as women, children, refugees, and people with disability and Ghana was no exception.
“These groups continue to be overlooked and sometimes face discrimination as they try to access and manage the safe water they need,” she said, and urged governments to do better in addressing the huge water deficit in their respective countries.
Ms Lopez-Ekra said this at the 2019 celebration of the World Water Day at the Akropong School for the Blind, on the theme: “Leaving No One Behind”.
She said the theme was central in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG-6) aimed at ensuring availability and sustainable management of water for all by 2030.
Unfortunately the Multiple Indicator Survey (MICS) 2017, indicates that 21 per cent of Ghanaians in urban areas do not have access to basic water, with 32 per cent in the rural areas suffering the same fate.
The statistics show that water coverage and accessibility in the Greater Accra Region was 98 per cent as against that of the Northern Region, which has 50 per cent coverage.
Madam Cecilia Dapaah, the Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, in a speech read on her behalf, said considerable strides had been made in the provision of potable water to the populace.
However, she admitted that some inequalities existed and if care was not taken would get worse.
She said the MICS 2017/2018 results indicated that deterioration in drinking water quality was widespread with 48 per cent contamination at the source and 76 per cent at the point of use.
“This is in addition to about 20 per cent of the population spending over one to three hours more than the acceptable 30 minutes for a roundtrip including queuing to collect water each day in households without water on premises.”
The Minister said the fundamental issue that confronted the nation in ensuring that “No one was left behind” was the degradation of water sources.
“Unfortunately illegal mining, deforestation, pollution from both solid and liquid wastes as well as poor land use activities have degraded the vegetative cover along the banks of any water sources”.
She said in strengthening strategies to achieve the SDGs, government’s attention was on increasing investments in water and sanitation services to decrease time spend on collecting water and tackling water infrastructure systems, which wasted more freshwater than delivered.
Madam Dapaah said government was also shifting towards environmentally sustainable policies that took account of interconnection among ecological systems and reduce pollution as well as promoting efficient water treatment technologies that reduced the use of water.
Madam Mahela Narh, the Headmistress of Akropong School for the Blind, appealed for a mechanised borehole to complement the source of water supply “in order not to leave anyone behind,” adding; “Our children who are blind should not be left behind in the quest to make water accessible to all, especially vulnerable groups”.,
She said even though the School had six overhead tanks in addition to the national water supply, they broke down frequently, therefore, the need of the borehole.,
Pupils of the School treated guests to some cultural performances and hand washing demonstrations as part of the celebration.