How the National Sanitation Day started
The National Sanitation Day (NSD) was declared by Mr Julius Debrah, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development.
The day was set on the first day in November, giving birth to a national clean-up exercise on every first Saturday of the month, which entered its second phase in December.
The first and second day observation of the NSD attracted high profile personalities like President John Dramani Mahama, Ministers of State, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene and stakeholders like, Zoomlion, a sanitation management organisation, the security services, national service personnel and students.
The formal launching of the day, took place in Accra.
It all started when on September 13, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development engaged media practitioners to discuss a four-thematic action plan developed by the ministry.
Journalists from the southern sector participated in the discussion, during which suggestions and contributions were taken to be imputed into the action plan born out of a systemic study and series of consultations held with stakeholders in the Local Government sector.
The four thematic plans were; Environmental Sanitation, Decentralisation and Financial Empowerment of Assemblies, Small and Micro Enterprises Development and Job Creation and Social Housing.
Mr Debrah said at the meeting that the ministry would involve the media, create religious platforms and collaborate with chiefs and traditional authorities to create public awareness and promote attitudinal change.
He said the plan was also to remove heaps of garbage at all refuse dumping sites across the country, especially in Accra and other commercial cities, and to educate people on the separation of paper, plastic and liquid waste.
He called on the media and other stakeholders to partner the ministry in executing the action plan to promote a clean environment and development in all sectors of Ghana’s growing economy.
As part of his zeal towards the National Sanitation Day, he met with the Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharabutu and made him an Ambassador of Sanitation campaign.
He also interacted with stakeholders like the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Professor Reverend Emmanuel Martey; Rev Prof Emmanuel Asante, Presiding Bishop of Methodist Church of Ghana; Asantehene, and Okyehene Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin.
He met with Mr Mohammed Ahmed Alhassan, Inspector General of Police, the then Chief Fire Officer, Brigadier General John Bosco Guyiri; Mrs Theodora Wood, Chief Justice, and Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council.
On September 17, he launched the NSD campaign at La Trade Fair Centre, which was chaired by Okyehene.
At the launched the United Nations, representative; Namundo Ndingo, said Ghana was among the 10 dirtiest countries in the world.
Characteristic of Zoomlion, it provided a truck to help cart refuse deposited alongside the main roads while Bright Waste Company also assisted with a refuse vehicle for the cleaning exercise.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development is to come up with a bye-law that would make it compulsory for every Ghanaian to participate in the NSD.
When finalised, the bye-law would be adopted by all the assemblies and passed by resolution to make it obligatory for every citizen to take part in the exercise.
It means that citizens, communities, entities or organisations that do not participate in the exercise would be sanctioned.
Mr Debrah said even though some of the laws under the proposed model exist, they are too old and needed to be amended to take care of the present situation.
“Most of the prescribed punishments in the laws are nothing to write home about. They are very old and the fines are very minimal and so we have to do something that will be punitive enough to reflect the current circumstances.”
Mr Debrah urged the media to continue to propagate the need for good sanitation for the public to participate in the exercise.
“If in the 21st century we have to really beg people not to litter and throw plastic from moving vehicles, then it tells you about the enormity of the problem we have at hand,” the minister said.
The month of December NSD exercise was carried out in honour of the late Vice-President Aliu Mahama, who was very passionate about sanitation.
Some of the collaborators of the NSD are the Ministry of Defence, Kasapreko Company Limited, which donated GH₵ 30, 000.00, 10 wheel barrows, 10 shovels, 10 rakes, 10 boxes of hand gloves and nose masks, and Societe Generale-Ghana, which also donated equipment and implements towards the campaign and promised their continues support to the ministry.
Other corporate entities that supported the initiative comprised adb Bank, SIC Life, PZ Cussons, and VVIP Group Musicians.
Adb Bank donated a cheque for GH₵50,000, SIC Life; cleaning equipment, implements, T-shirts valued at GH₵25,000 and detergents and T-shirts value at GH₵20,000 from PZ Cussons.
VVIP Group Musicians pledged their active support in the campaign.
By Amadu Kamil Sanah