Ghanaians getting more displeased with government on water, sanitation

WaterpumpGhana recorded the second worst decline in citizens’ rating of government on the provision of water and sanitation, among 18 African countries tracked by Afrobarometer since 2005/2006.

The share of Ghanaians expressing displeasure with government’s performance on water and sanitation, increased by 28 percentage points from 39 per cent in 2005/2006 to 66 per cent in 2014/2015, according to Afrobarometer’s round six surveys.

The reactions, however, are not without justification, because despite government’s efforts at providing potable water to citizens, an estimated 10 million Ghanaians of the total 25 million population, do not have access to potable water and 85.1 per cent of people in the country do not have access to safe and private toilets.

Of the 85.1 per cent, 60 per cent are without toilets and shared toilets, while six per cent resort to unimproved toilets with 19 per cent engaging in open defecation.

Across the 18 African countries, negative ratings of governments rose by 14 per cent during the period.

Apart from Ghana, only Madagascar saw a worse decline in citizens’ rating of the government on water and sanitation. The proportion of Madagascans who think their government is doing a fairly bad or very bad job, rose from 30 per cent to 77 per cent.

The increase in citizens’ discontent across the continent is in light of the lag in access to water and sanitation as captured by Afrobarometer’s report “Lack of safe water, sanitation spurs growing dissatisfaction with government performance.”, which found a decline in citizens’ satisfaction over the decade in 36 African countries.

The survey of 36 countries using nearly 54,000 interviews, found that 51 per cent can only access water outside of their compound. Almost half (45 per cent) of respondents went without enough clean water at least once during the previous year, while 19 per cent also did so many times or always.

Water supply meanwhile, is ranked by citizens as the 5th of the 16 most important problems .

Unsurprisingly, Afrobarometer said the survey’s findings suggest a moderately strong relationship between the experience of going without enough water at least once during the past year, and the perception that the government is not doing well.

“On average across 35 countries, a majority (55 per cent) of citizens rate their government’s performance in handling water and sanitation services as ‘fairly bad’ or ‘very bad’. This negative appraisal is the majority view in all regions except North Africa, where 46 per cent of respondents rate their government’s handling of water and sanitation services as ‘fairly’ or ‘very’ bad,” the report says.

Amidst the generally poor ratings, Zambia, Nigeria, Kenya and Malawi made positive gains with regards to the percentage of citizens displeased with government’s performance in providing water and sanitation.

Zambia, Kenya and Malawi are also among the countries that succeeded in reducing the fraction of the population that went without water in the previous year, reflecting the link between access and citizens’ rating of government.

While 36 per cent of surveyed communities have no infrastructure for piped water, a staggering 68 per cent lack sewage infrastructure. One in five (20 per cent) have to leave their compound to use a toilet, while eight per cent have no access to a toilet even outside their compound.

In Ghana for instance, the findings show that only 19 per cent have toilets in their homes, while 17 per cent have it within their compounds. The vast majority (55 per cent) have to leave their compounds, while 9 per cent have no access at all.

Afrobarometer said in 21 of the 36 countries surveyed, the proportion of citizens living in areas with sewage systems was below the regional average of 31 per cent. Apart from São Tomé and Príncipe, the other 20 countries had less than two out of ten citizens (20 per cent) living in zones with sewage systems.

Again, Mauritius and North Africa were found to lead the way in firsthand access to a toilet at home.

By Emmanuel Odonkor

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