New Year School: Participants call for sanitation tax

TaxationParticipants at the 64th Annual New Year School have recommended the introduction of a sanitation tax, along the lines of the National Health Insurance Levy and the Communication Tax, for local authorities to finance sanitation activities.

They said local authorities should undertake proper registration of households to facilitate the collection of rates and also for the effective and efficient management of waste.

They further advocated the local financing of water and sanitation facilities to prevent conditionalities that often came with international funding.

The recommendations were captured in a 12-point communiqué adopted at the end of the school at Legon in Accra on Thursday.

The participants were of the view that such conditionalities often did not facilitate the nation’s social and economic development.

After their deliberations on the theme, “The Key to future health of our nation: Improved water, sanitation and hygiene”, the participants also recommended a coordinated national policy and adequate financial and logistical support from the central government to all municipal, metropolitan and district assemblies (MMDAs) to facilitate the provision of boreholes in communities with no access to good and reliable drinking water.

They said as a matter of urgency, the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing should come up with a national policy on water harvesting and storage, while all the partners and stakeholders related to the sector should undertake intensive public education programmes on the importance and best practices of water harvesting.

Additionally, they said individuals and households should be encouraged to seek professional expertise to build and install reservoirs to store harvested water, while the practice of ground water recharge should be encouraged by authorities.

They recommended that MMDAs and traditional authorities enforce laws and customary practices against deforestation along river banks to prevent the drying up of most rivers in the country.

They said punitive measures should be applied to all those who violated those laws.

The participants wanted MMDAs to, as a matter of priority; de-silt all water bodies in their areas of administration to prevent them from drying up.

“It is also recommended that community members be empowered by the appropriate agencies to manage their water bodies, and that membership of such management committees should be gender sensitive and also facilitate community consultation and participation,” they added.

They underscored the need for adequate sanitation facilities and services to be provided at public places by all MMDAs, adding that such facilities must be people- centred and maintained regularly.

“All MMDAs should enact and enforce bye-laws which require all households, shops, restaurants, etc to have toilet facilities. In support of this regulation, area councils and all households should be supported to access funding to construct toilets and other sanitary facilities. Where appropriate, MMDAs, in collaboration with other related agencies, should construct public toilets and urinals at vantage locations in their communities to prevent open-defecation. Toilet facilities should be constructed to meet the needs of the physically challenged,” they said.

They also proposed the construction of scientifically engineered landfill sites in all urban centres.

They said the use of rivers and streams as refuse dumps should be outlawed, while the Accra recycle compost plant should be replicated in other metropolises, municipalities and districts with large volumes of waste.

Other proposals were for a multi-prong approach in the sensitisation of Ghanaians, particularly at all levels of the school system, to the adoption of healthy environmental practices, sensitisation to hygiene at all levels of education and educational campaigns by churches, mosques and workplaces to change people’s behaviour and attitudes to issues of hygiene.

The participants further asked the Ghana Education Service (GES) to ensure that all schools had access to potable water and toilet facilities, while the Ministry of Education should come up with a deliberate policy for all public and private schools to have adequate and appropriate sanitation facilities, such as toilets, urinals and adequate water supply.

They asked MMDAs to be proactive and strict in the enforcement of bye-laws and regulations to check and minimise the growth of slums within urban settlements under their jurisdictions.

They also called for the establishment of sanitation courts at the district level.

Source: Daily Graphic

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