Some experts in Ghana’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector have hailed former President John Kufuor’s appointment as the new Chair for the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) partnership, as good news for the sector.
First to express his excitement about Kufuor’s appointment was Dr. Afia Zakiya, WaterAid in Ghana’s Country Representative who said it was very encouraging that a former President of Ghana had been selected.
“It will continue to bring global recognition to Ghana as a leading country in Africa that is concerned about critical issues that need to be addressed and will be seen as a country that has someone who will be working with people around the globe to highlight the issue of water and sanitation crisis,” Dr. Zakiya stated.
She explained that Kufuor’s role will not only be to highlight the issues in Ghana, but to chair the High Level Meeting (HLM) in Washington on April 20, 2011 to be attended by Ministers of Finance, Water and Sanitation from all over the world, to talk about progress in the eThekwini Declaration, the SWA Compact for Ghana, which will give Ghana the opportunity to have a recognition threshold in some way and report on its progress.
For his part, Mr. Benjamin Arthur, Executive Secretary, Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), said he saw it as an honour for Ghana to have one of its former leaders chairing such an important programme.
“For us, if we have our former President to be a leader there, then the only thing the country can do, is to marshal all the resources, to bring us up in terms of improvement in accessibility to water and sanitation services. That is the only way we can honour him, because being a leader there, if we keep on going down in terms of people who do not have access to these facilities, it will be a disgrace to him, it will be a disgrace to the country,” he said.
To Benjamin Arthur, it is time now for “Ghana to re-look at herself and say that since we have a Ghanaian at the top there, what can we do to bring ourselves up, so that at least people can look up to him, not only as the leader or the chair of the SWA, but that through his influence, the country also reaches its target.”
Darren Saywell, SWA Vice-Chair and WASH/CLTS Director at Plan International USA, who sees former President Kufuor as a campaigner for better access to water and sanitation of many years, said, “His leadership will help bring greater political attention to this neglected development issue”.
Former President of Ghana (2001-2009), John Agyekum Kufuor, and former Chairperson of the African Union (2007–2008), was appointed as the first high-level Chair of the Sanitation and Water for All partnership in New York, USA, on November 15, 2011 for a two-year term.
Kufuor was chosen for being a passionate global advocate for leadership, governance and development and the regard for his African and international statesmanship, and the recognition for his contributions through awards such as the 2011 World Food Prize.
Responding to his appointment, former President Kufuor said: “The dream of sanitation and water for every person is within reach, but it will take a great deal of political will, adequate resources, and coordinated efforts. I am committed to making this happen, because I am not content to live in a world where 2.6 billion people lack access to a decent toilet and 900 million people do not have clean water to drink.”
Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) is an alliance of governments, donors, civil society organisations, development partners, water and sanitation agencies, which is working to increase funding, improve the efficiency of resource use and strengthen the evidence base for the water supply and sanitation sector.
The partnership convenes a biennial High Level Meeting to raise political awareness, supports countries in their efforts to develop action-oriented plans and works with UN-WATER and WHO to produce the Global Analysis and Assessment of Drinking Water and Sanitation (GLAAS) report.
By Edmund Smith-Asante