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Ghana needs $1.5b to meet MDG sanitation target

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A programme officer of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD) of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr. Kweku Quansah, has disclosed that Ghana requires about $1.5 billion within the next five years at the peak of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) target, in order to attain the MDG in Sanitation.

He said this means that annually the country will need a capital investment of about $300 million to be able to attain the sanitation MDG target.

Mr. Quansah, who disclosed this in an interview with this reporter in Sunyani Tuesday, said the political authorities, donors and households are ready to invest this much to push the sanitation coverage up, “because in the whole of West Africa we are last but one and it doesn’t auger well because Ghana has done well in so many areas but unfortunately in sanitation we are lagging behind and there is the need to double up ourselves and ensure that we achieve the MDG target.”

He however hastened to add that it is not likely Ghana might achieve the target, adding that the MDG target is only the basic target required for sanitation coverage and not the ultimate.

Mr. Kweku Quansah said “after the MDG we still have to work hard to let our people have decent latrines, and that is what we are working towards, so we should not discourage anybody that we might miss the MDGs.”

According to him, “the most important thing is that it is going to ignite the fire for us to move ahead, and after MDGs attain some of the targets we have set for ourselves and it is important for the sector to do that.”

Speaking to the coverage of water and sanitation issues in Ghana for the past five years, Mr. Kweku Quansah told this reporter that in the sanitation sector Ghana has not been doing well at all.

He said improved sanitation (improved latrines) in households was around 10%, moved to 11%, while the latest figures released by the Joint Monitoring Platform (JMP) of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in collaboration with the Water and Sanitation Monitoring Platform (WSMP) in Ghana pegged the country’s performance at 12.4%.

The programme officer, who was a participant at a two-day Annual Review Workshop of WaterAid, Ghana and its partners, lamented that Ghana is only moving marginally, and that the pace is very slow with respect to improvement in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector. “We need to really double up and this requires funding,” he asserted.

He was very hopeful however, that Government, development partners and individual Ghanaians will make available the needed funds to push the water and sanitation sector forward because sanitation is life, dignity and can improve school-girl education , saying it is at the core centre of the eight MDGs.

Mr. Quansah urged the private sector to be involved, participate and support work in the sector, as 80% of the work in the sanitation sector is ceded to them, adding that because sanitation is about behavioural change, once they assist in attaining that the problems of sanitation would be 50% solved.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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