Ghana government urged not to divert resources meant for sanitation and water

In the wake of the launch of a compact outlining the government of Ghana’s renewed commitment to the country’s sanitation, water and hygiene sector, civil society is insisting that no resources meant for that sector must be diverted to others, no matter the pressures.

“We know it is very easy for governments to divert any of these promised allocations to areas with more pressure. We therefore suggest that no matter the pressure, government should not divert any of these promised allocations to other sectors,” the Coalition of Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) said in a statement issued yesterday.

Reading the statement on behalf of CONIWAS and civil society at a press conference in Accra, Chairperson of the Coalition, Victoria Daaku, stressed that CONIWAS has committed itself to monitor the implementation of the Ghana Compact, which was launched by Vice President John Dramani Mahama on August 19, 2010, together with government’s renewed commitments imbedded in the compact.

She added that the coalition will also offer suggestions when necessary, to ensure its successful implementation and also point out shortfalls whenever necessary.

According to Victoria Daaku, CONIWAS called the press conference to highlight the major renewed commitments as contained in the compact, “so that the press can also support both government and civil society to popularise and monitor these particular commitments.”

Outlining five major commitments made by government in the compact, she stated that government has pledged to designate the sanitation and water sector as part of the essential services category and indicate this commitment in the 2011 budget, which she viewed as urgent, since the process of working on the budget has already started.

“Based on initial calculations, Government of Ghana commits to increase allocations in budget statements for sanitation and water, and work with development partners and the private sector to ensure that allocations reach US$200 million annually towards sanitation and water improvements, to meet MDG targets and sustain improvements beyond 2015,” she continued.

The CONIWAS Chair supplied further that the Ghana government has committed to make additional allocations of US$150 million annually towards hygienic treatment and disposal of septage and faecal sludge, sullage and storm water management, as well as make further allocations up to the minimum threshold of 0.5% of GDP to cover capacity building for hygiene education, including proper hand-washing methods, countrywide outreach of community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and general enhancement of enabling elements.

Victoria Daaku concluded that the government has also undertaken to strengthen and enhance the capacity of the Environmental Health and Sanitation and Water Directorates with increased budget allocations, beginning from the 2011 budget statement.

The CONIWAS Chairperson indicated that although they were happy with the commitments made, they expect government to fulfil all of the commitments and make them reflect in the ongoing work on the 2011 budget and subsequent years.

She also tasked government to look for finances for the commitments internally, for the sake of sustainability, national ownership and the avoidance of over reliance on external agencies for support, while development partners who supported the drafting of the compact through the Sanitation and Water for All partnership (SWA), also honour their part of the commitments.

CONIWAS further urged state agencies, NGOs and private consultants who will be part of the implementation of the commitments, to ensure that investments are directed at places of greatest need.

To ensure effective decision-making in the sanitation and water sector, the coalition enjoined the Ministries of Local Government and Rural Development and Water Resources, Works and Housing to align definitions and indicators and expedite action on developing a sector-wide Monitoring and Evaluation framework.

Specifically, CONIWAS tasked the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to as a matter of urgency, come out with the monitoring indicators for environmental sanitation, to provide data on other aspects of sanitation such as solid waste, storm water drainage, clinical waste and industrial waste among others.

In conclusion, the coalition advised that MDGs alone must not be a deciding factor for investments, but that all investment plans be made to look beyond the indicators of the MDGs and 2015.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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