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Over 50 Ghanaian officials train in WASH emergencies

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HandwashingMore than 50 officials of organisations and agencies in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector in Ghana, have been trained on how to manage those essential services during crisis or emergencies.

This is intended to enable them prevent further escalation of conditions during emergencies and disasters such as floods, bushfires, droughts, earthquakes, famine and disease outbreaks such as cholera, among many others.

The training, which commenced on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 and ends Friday, February 8, 2013, is being organised jointly by the ministries of Water Resources, Works and Housing and Local Government and Rural Development, with the support of the United Nations agency, UNICEF.

Being held under the WASH in Emergencies (WinE) programme, the training is the third in a series of capacity building programmes held since the inception of the programme in 2011 which was informed by the annual rampant bouts of cholera outbreaks in the country around that period.

The first two training programmes were for national level officers in December 2012, and officials in the Upper West, Upper East, Northern and Brong Ahafo regions making the Northern Zone, in January 2013.

The ongoing training, is for the Southern Zone, which comprises the Ashanti, Western, Eastern, Central, Volta and Greater Accra regions of Ghana.

Topics discussed during the training include Disaster Management and Preparedness, The rationale of WASH in Emergencies, Control of Communicable Diseases in Emergencies, Sanitation in Emergencies, WASH Response to Urban Floods, Hygiene Promotion in Emergencies, Understanding Gender Perspective in Early Recovery and Children With Disability in Emergency among a host of others.

Explaining in an interview what informed the inception of the WinE programme and the training, Mr. Enoch Ofosu, Water Resources Specialist, Water Directorate, Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, said “there is the need to build capacity for the area called WASH in emergency.”

He said hitherto, things were done in fragments and that “Whenever there were disasters people were called upon to do things, but we have to be proactive, we have to put ourselves together – the lack of coordination can result in a lot of negative things like wastage and the lack of WASH services in emergencies can lead to deaths.”

“The best thing is to be prepared and in the sector have capacity built, so that you know what to do in advance before the emergency happens,” he added.

Enoch Ofosu stated that although the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), has been coordinating and bringing onboard other agencies to assist during emergencies, it has an overarching structure “and within that broad plan, other sectors must plan into it; like water, sanitation and hygiene, housing,” “so that when any emergency strikes you know that there is a plan.”

Officials receiving the training, are from NADMO which is a co-chair of the WinE Technical Working Group, the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD), Water Directorate, civil society organisations (CSOs) and Local Government Authority (LGAs) among others.

Touching on whether Ghana is expecting to encounter any disaster, this is what Enoch Ofosu said: “Disasters are with us and all around us and most importantly we are developing a structure to fit into the existing structure – talking of emergencies, we have to make room for it in our existing structure in terms of policy and other things.”

He intimated that a newly developed structure, which was validated earlier in the week, will be communicated to the sector working group and if it is adopted by stakeholders, it will come into being and it will fit into the existing framework and become part of it.

He disclosed further, that the WinE Technical Working Group will report to the Water and Sanitation Technical Working Group, which will encompass members of the WinE group and other stakeholders.

From Edmund Smith-Asante, Dodowa

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