Ghana commits $750m to sanitation for next five years

The government of Ghana has committed US$150 million annually to the sanitation sector, for the next five years (which adds up to US$750 million), in order to generally address Ghana’s very poor performance in sanitation coverage and specifically improve its current rate of progress towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for sanitation.

In addition to this amount, US$200 million has been slated for both water and sanitation annually, for the next five years, beginning from 2011.

Stating these during an exclusive interview with in Kumasi on Friday, Mr. Kweku Quansah, a Programme Officer of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD) of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), said “It is on record that government is putting in close to $350 million every year, starting from 2011…plus 0.5% of GDP for hygiene behavioural changes.”

He was of the view that with such investment, government has shown a lot of commitment that it is ready to deliver.

Mr. Quansah explained that even though Ghana is close to achieving the MDG target for water, government has had to invest in the water sector, because “the peri-urban cities still have problems – but we also need resources to continue maintaining or improving, otherwise we can easily decline.”

Expatiating further, he said “$200 million is for water and sanitation, $150 million is specifically for sanitation and 0.5% is for behavioural change activities.”

The EHSD officer said the $150 million is geared towards dealing with liquid waste (real sanitation) – the latrines, the hygiene education, the building of septage plants etc., while the 0.5% of GDP is looking at behavioural change activities.

Meanwhile, the commitment of the Government of Ghana (GoG), which is documented in the Ghana SWA (Sanitation and Water for All) Compact launched in April this year, states: “In order to overcome the huge deficit in sanitation coverage and sustain achievements in water, GoG will make allocations consistent with sector investment plans for improving pro-poor and priority services.”

It continues that “Based on initial calculations, GoG 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$200m annually towards sanitation and water improvements to meet MDG targets and sustain improvements beyond”

The compact states: “To address the ‘crisis’ situation of indiscriminate discharging of sullage, septage and faecal sludge that affects mostly residents of poor neighbourhoods and into water courses, rivers and beaches, further allocations will be made to mainstream environmental sanitation measures to meet MDG 7.”

“In order to achieve the above, GoG commits to: make additional allocations of US$150m annually towards hygienic treatment and disposal of septage and faecal sludge as well as sullage and storm-water management,” it adds.

Touching on awareness raising for behavioural change, the compact states: “Poor sanitation has been identified as one of the critical challenges facing the sector. The framework for environmental sanitation development which served as a basic building block for developing the National Environmental Sanitation Strategy and Action Plan (NESSAP), identifies awareness raising for behavioural change as a basic means of improving sanitation.”

It concludes that “In order to realise this GoG commits to: make further allocations up to the minimum threshold of 0.5% of GDP to cover capacity building for hygiene education including proper handwashing methods, country-wide outreach of Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and general enhancement of enabling elements.”

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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