WaterAid Ghana (WAG), an international nongovernmental organisation with focus on water, sanitation and hygiene issues, has presented a cheque worth GH¢2,500 to the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) for its awards slated for August 21, 2010.
The cheque represents the organisation’s sponsorship package for the Sanitation and Hygiene category of the GJA 2009 Media Awards.
Presenting the cheque last week Friday, Dr. Afia Zakiya, WaterAid Ghana’s Country Representative said “We are supporting the ‘Hygiene and Sanitation Award’ in a bid to motivate and increase interest among media practitioners to write stories, investigate and research water, sanitation and hygiene issues.”
She added that WatertAid’s sponsorship of the award is meant to inspire journalists to strive towards achieving excellence in their work and also help raise the standard of quality for sanitation and hygiene reporting.
“We are particularly interested in the ‘Hygiene and Sanitation Awards’ because we need to accelerate progress towards increasing the number of people who have access to improved sanitation in Ghana,” Dr. Afia Zakiya emphasised, stating that available 2009 data indicates that only about 13% of the country’s population currently has access to safe sanitation, according to the Joint Monitoring Report, UNICEF, 2009.
She lamented that a number of reasons account for this state of affairs, which includes lack of adherence to building codes, inadequate funding of the sector and people’s attitude towards sanitation in general.
Expressing her belief that the media can play a role in addressing the challenges, WaterAid’s Country Representative disclosed that her outfit is presently developing a new strategy which emphasises its work with the media.
“We are therefore interested in building the capacity of the Ghana media to articulate WASH issues, especially in terms of how it affects poor people. We will want to see the Ghanaian media vigorously and insightfully highlighting WASH issues in the media to help make positive change,” she said.
Specifically, the Country Representative declared that it is the expectation of WAG that the media in Ghana will contribute to increased knowledge and awareness by community members, school children, their teachers and their families of the importance of improved hygiene and sanitation.
She also hoped the media would contribute to improved WASH services to poor people through calls for equitable and inclusive resource allocation from the Government of Ghana and also increase the number of Ghanaians who have access to safe sanitation facilities.
Dr. Afia Zakiya pledged that WAG will support the “Hygiene and Sanitation Award” category as long as their resources permit, calling on the media to help them achieve their vision as a powerful socialising agent.
WaterAid, which has been working in Ghana since 1985, has supported the formation of the Ghana Water and Sanitation or Watsan Journalists Network, which is a group of journalists that are interested in championing developments within the WASH sector in Ghana through investigative reporting.
By Edmund Smith-Asante