Statistics also indicates that access to improved sanitation in Ghana is estimated at 15 per cent against the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target of 54 per cent to be attained by end of 2015.
Some of the fundamental issues militating sanitation in the country has been identified as low prioritisation of the sector, lack of innovative and sustainable financing mechanisms, inadequate programming and ineffective coordination by relevant government agencies.
Other bottlenecks include inadequate private sector involvement in exploring investment opportunities, high poverty levels and non-enforcement of sanitation laws.
The World Vision International has therefore partnered the Ghana Coalition of NGOs in the Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) and other players in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector to dialogue and to collective identify options and strategies for accelerating sustainable access to improved sanitation in the country.
At a stakeholders’ dialogue held on Tuesday in Accra, participants discussed the low basic sanitation coverage in Ghana, options and strategies that are available for achieving accelerated improvement in basic sanitation and the resource requirements for achieving improved basic sanitation.
The workshop was on the theme: “The Sustainable Development Goals; Strategies for Improved Sanitation in Ghana”.
Mr Hubert Charles, National Director of World Vision International said the provision of clean water, improved sanitation and good hygiene practice were top priorities of his organistion because these were fundamental to the health, education and general well-being of children.
He said poor sanitation and hygiene practices reduce productivity and increase healthcare cost, trapping communities in a perpetual cycle of poverty. Poor sanitation and hygiene practices were also linked to malnutrition and diseases such as diarrhoea, trachoma, cholera, fluorosis and helminth infections that kill children or stunt their development.
He said because many schools lack access to improved sanitation and hygiene facilities, children are left with the option but to open defecation in nearby bushes and hideouts and this has negative consequences for child health, quality education and general well-being.
“Girls especially those who have reached the age of puberty, do not often find the school environment friendly when toilet facilities lack privacy, are unsafe or non-existent”, Mr Charles noted.
He said World Vision has thus, from 1985 to 2010, invested over $60 million to help improve the well-being of children and the socio-economic development of more than 1.3 million people in 1,600 communities and 150 schools and clinics throughout the country.
From 2011 to 2016, another $30 million has been invested under the “For Every Child” WASH Programme for further improve access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene services for over one million people including school children in communities.
Mr Charles said the poor sanitation challenges confronting the country could no more be tackled with the “business as usual attitude”, saying urgent critical actions should be taken by all to help address the issues.
Mr Benjamin Lartey, Southern Zonal Coordinator of CONIWAS state officials should be up and dong to ensure that the implement the bylaws on sanitation while individual members of households must provide toilet facilities in their households.
He said participants would at the end of the meeting come out with a communiqué that outlines action plan needed to be implemented to tackle improve sanitation situation in the country.
Dr Kwabena Nyarko, Senior Lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology said Ghana loses a total of $54 million to health care every year, which could partly be blamed to poor sanitation practices.
He said it was important for the nation to invest in sanitation to improve upon it while ensuring that open defecation are stopped or reduced significantly.
Dr Doris Yaa Dartey, Former Board Chair of the Graphic Communications Group said it was unfortunate that despite many talks and actions sanitation is still a national crisis in Ghana, with poor people being the main culprits of open defecation.
She therefore urged that people in poor communities and rural areas should be educated “and talk them of shitting around”.