Former President John Agyekum Kufuor, has observed that progress made in the past decade showed that access to improved water and sanitation could be achieved globally with more concerted efforts by governments.
”The dream of universal access to sanitation and water is within our reach, but a tremendous increase in political will, adequate resources and coordinated efforts is required to get us there,” he said.
Mr Kufuor was addressing the opening session of the Second Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting at the World Bank in Washington, DC being attended by about 200 delegates including about 40 Ministers of Finance and Economic Planning, and Water Resources and Sanitation.
This was contained in a statement issued by Mr Frank Agyekum, Spokesperson and Special Aide at the Office of President Kufuor copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.
Ghana was represented by Dr Kwabena Dufour, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Enoch Teye Mensah, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, and Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development.
Mr Kufuor, who is chair of the Sanitation and Water for All partnership, said although tremendous achievement had been made in meeting the Millennium Development Goals of halving the number of people with access to good drinking water worldwide, a lot more needed to be done to ensure total universal coverage.
“Today, as we speak, 6.1 billion people or 89 per cent of the global population use improved drinking water sources. But this global figure masks regional, national and sub-national disparities.”
“Most of the remaining 783 million people without access to good water are in sub-Sahara Africa where only 61 per cent of the people can access improved water sources,” he said.
Former President Kufuor said the world had done poorly in the provision of sanitation as only 63 per cent or 4.4 billion globally used improved sanitation facilities.
An estimated 2.5 billion people are still without improved sanitation, almost three-quarters of them in rural areas and 1.1 billion people still practice open defecation.
“This is blight on humanity and we need to re-double our efforts by prioritising water and sanitation in national planning and the donor community showing more commitment,” Mr Kufuor said.
Ghana and Nigeria, among other African countries promised to put water and sanitation high on their agenda and Britain, Germany and France promised a doubling of aid to the sector.