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Ghana to form Technical Working Group on water, sanitation services for emergencies

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waste-3A National WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) in Emergencies (WinE) Technical Working Group, is to be formed in Ghana, to ensure effective and coordinated rapid and recovery responses related to safe water, basic sanitation and hygiene to affected people in emergencies at national level.

The working group will also be expected to develop adequate preparedness measures for WASH in recovery periods.

Among other things, the WinE Technical Working Group, which is open to all stakeholders such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil-based organisations (CBOs), UN agencies, the Government of Ghana (GoG), private sector and donor organisations, will be expected to add value to the work of the water, sanitation and hygiene sector, by engaging in joint assessments, strategic planning and actions.

The Group is also expected to ensure information sharing and analysis, for evidence based action, avoid overlap, increase complementary actions, identify and fill gaps, map out who does what, where and when during emergencies, as well as provide clear leadership for more predictable and effective response.

These came to light during a two-day validation workshop held from Monday, February 4, 2013 to Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at Dodowa in the Dangme West District of the Greater Accra Region.

The workshop was jointly organised by the ministries of Water Resources, Works and Housing and Local Government and Rural Development, who will incidentally be co-leads of the Technical Working Group, that will also have UNICEF and NADMO co-chairing.

Validation was done by the participants on proposed Terms of Reference (ToR) for the National WinE Technical Working Group and ToR for a National WinE Technical Working Group secretariat, which will be manned by a WinE Coordinator, WinE Information Manager and WinE partner agencies/organisations.

For specific objectives of a National WinE Technical Working Group, participants agreed it should be an impartial forum of agencies and institutions, representing no individual members or their interests, and whose goals and objectives are of unique character, which will provide the best possible assistance to affected people in emergencies, by taking commonly accepted and binding decisions.

Concerning a National WinE Technical Working Group secretariat, the workshop participants agreed the Coordinator must generally provide leadership in streamlining activities of all WinE players to prevent conflicts and duplicity, while the Information Manager must provide information management services such including data collection, collation, analysis, dissemination processes relevant to the needs of the sector, including map production, with the collaboration of all stakeholders to the National WinE Technical Working Group for key decision making.

The participants, who were drawn from the two collaborating ministries, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), WaterAid Ghana and the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) among other stakeholders, also agreed that partner agencies and organisations need to validate the overall aim and objectives of the National WinE Technical Working Group.

They also tasked the Group to be proactive in exchanging information and reporting, highlight needs, gaps, and duplication, mobilise resources (financial, human, material), engage with affected communities, and build local capacity.

In his remarks, Director of Research, Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Mr.  Longman Atta-Kumah urged participants to push issues of WASH such that they are taken up at the appropriate quarters.

“You have good intentions but if you do not go through the right processes you may look a bad person or you may be seen to be running a parallel station,” he said, pledging, “We will support the process and work as a team with all the clarifications we have set for ourselves, as well as the bench marks that we have set for ourselves in this direction.”

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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