Ghana’s commitment to sanitation waning, despite being off-track

Available statistics indicate that Ghana’s commitment to the water, sanitation and hygiene sector, especially sanitation, is still very low, in spite of the common knowledge that the country has and is still performing abysmally in terms of coverage for its people.

There seems to be no let-up in Government’s very low commitment to the sector, and in fact it is rather spiraling downwards, while investment has also been very poor.

Alluding to this in Accra Friday, November 18, 2011, Mr. Ibrahim Musah, Head of Policy and Partnership, WaterAid in Ghana, said  “in 2008, Ghana as a percentage of GDP, allocated 0.38%, in 2010 it fell to 0.28%, so even as we talk about the crisis in water, especially in sanitation, allocation to WASH is dwindling and this is not a good sign for progress in WASH in Ghana.”

“More frightening is the case that if you take government investment, figures from Ghana in 2010 reveal that 78% to Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing is coming from donors, and only 35% to Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development is coming from the donors and this is not acceptable.”

Mr. Ibrahim Musah, who was presenting an overview of a global report by WaterAid, an international NGO, charged government to invest in the sector, stating, “interestingly if you take education, within the same period 35% of donors’ money went to education and 5% went to health, indicating much of the resources to health and education is coming from government.”

He questioned why government could not pay for the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector and thereby improve livelihoods and school enrolment among others, saying the report, which was being launched, aimed to bring attention to such inequities.

WaterAid in Ghana’s Head of Policy and Partnership stated further that even from the donors’ perspective, the least developed countries are not getting the required funding as compared to the middle income countries and so the report – “Off-track Off-target” calls on donors to ensure proper targeting of aid.

He urged that after such aid has been received, governments must endeavour to focus first on the marginalised and excluded in their countries.

Shifting his attention to what the report holds for Ghana, he urged government and all WASH sector players to ensure that government’s allocation to WASH is improved. Mr. Musah made reference to the eThekwini declaration, where the Ghana government signed and made a commitment in 2008, to allocate 0.5% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to sanitation.

He continued that when Ghana attended the African Sanitation Conference (AfricaSan) in Kigali, Rwanda this year, government was only allocating about 0.2%, which is not good.

Ibrahim Musah also reminded government of its commitment in the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) Compact, to commit a total of US$ 350 million to the WASH sector yearly and the need to make that pledge good and sustained till 2015.

Responding to the concerns of low commitment as expressed by WaterAid in Ghana’s Policy and Partnership Head, Chairman for the launch, Mr. Lenason Naa Demedeme, Director, Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate, acceded that indeed Ghana has a lot of frameworks for the sector, which other countries borrow from and are able to do exploits but the challenge for the country was the very little allocation always made by the Ministry of Finance, despite the many tangible arguments they always advance.

“We will continue to advocate, we will always urge civil society organisations to advocate using the many platforms available to bring about change in the sector,” he said.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

1 Comment
  1. Kwei Quartey says

    It’s disgraceful. If Ghana wants to call itself a “middle” economy in another 9 years, then it needs to do something about this situation. This lack of hygiene is what dismays and disgusts visitors to Ghana about the place, and Ghanaians need to wake up over this issue. It can’t go on.

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