Dr Manteaw calls for review of National Sanitation Day policy

SanitationDr Bob Offei Manteaw, a Principal and Senior Research Collaborator, at the Africa Resilience Collaborative (ARC), has said the National Sanitation Day (NSD) exercise programme needs a review.

He said the policy has not been successful in fulfilling its main objective of creating awareness and instilling a sanitation culture in the citizenry.

Dr Manteaw told the Ghana News Agency that the programme even though was well-intended, lacked what it would take to promote long-term social behavioural changes in the citizenry.

He said: “The fact that people meet every month to clean their communities, and the fact that filth and other insanitary conditions still persists immediately after cleaning those communities, is an ample proof that nothing has changed or is changing”.

Dr Manteaw, who is an Environment and Development Expert, cautioned the government to be circumspect in its desire to back the NSD with a law to make it mandatory.

In his view government should be committed to ensuring and enforcing existing sanitation regulations and backing that with a well-planned education and social marketing campaign.

He added that any military-style posturing to compel people to clean-up their environment would not be sustainable in changing people and society for the longer term.

Dr Manteaw, who is also the former Director of Research, Innovation and Development of Zoomlion and the Africa Institute of Sanitation and Waste Management, said the idea should not be about getting people to clean their environment occasionally, or constantly to satisfy some law, but people must be made to learn, know and understand the importance and the need to live in a clean and healthy environment for public good.

“The Tic Tacs and all those musicians and comedians in Ghana can come together every month and every year to clean gutters and sing and dance, but what is the message or lesson that stays with people for the rest of their lives regarding good sanitation behaviours?”

“While I do not dismiss the program as useless, I certainly believe it lacks purpose and it lacks that punchy message that should galvanize a movement towards social learning and behavioral change.”

Dr Manteaw said about 60 per cent of the sanitation challenges in Ghana and Africa in general is a human problem, attitude and educational challenge; and this is besides the absence of appropriate funding policies, regulatory framework, infrastructural and planning.

He called on the government and other development agencies working in the sector to support organizations such as Zoomlion and others to lead the sanitation crusade.

“In my view the NSD program would have been long dead if it was not for Zoomlion’s committed support and in spite of that support, it is very evident now that the NSD will not solve the country’s endemic sanitation challenges.”

Dr Manteaw said what is needed is commitment and trusted collaboration on the part of government and all stakeholders to work with private sector leaders such as Zoomlion to use their technical and operational expertise to manage the situation.

Any serious effort to address the sanitation problem in the country should take an integrated and simultaneous approach and approaches should be planned for long term results, he said.

He said: “these are critical requirements and until government works together with the requisite stakeholders to pull resources together to transform the current situation, these occasional sanitation days will only be an expression of desire and nothing more.”

Source: GNA

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