Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) platform on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have called on government to increase budgetary allocations for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in its 2020 mid-year budget statement.
This according to them should form part of measures to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
The Bongo and the Kassena-Nankana West Districts (KNWD) in the Upper East Region, and Wa in the Upper West Region form the CSOs platforms on the SDGs.
Leadership of the platforms insist that increased budgetary allocation would ensure that communities, schools, healthcare facilities, markets and lorry stations in the country, especially in their operational areas, would have adequate WASH facilities for proper hand washing with soap to effectively contain the spread of the virus.
The CSOs platforms made the call in a joint statement issued by Mr Bismark Adongo Ayorogo, Convener for the Bongo CSOs Platform, Mr Braimah Sanjage, Convener for the KNWD CSOs Platform, and Mr Freeman Kanton, Convener for the Wa CSOs Platform and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Bolgatanga.
The CSOs noted that the target of the SDG Six included achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all, and access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all.
The statement said the United Nations in 2010, recognised water and sanitation as an issue of human right and that “The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses.”
It said the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources with a vision of “Sustainable Water and Environmental Sanitation for All” works towards improving the living standards of Ghanaians through increased access to safe WASH practices and sustainable management of water resources.
“It is an undeniable fact that the well-articulated and clearly stated noble vision, goal and targets with human rights connotations are more relevant in this era of the global coronavirus pandemic than before.”
“Regrettably, availability, accessibility and affordability of clean water and sanitation for all is still on the low side in rural and hard-to-reach communities particularly in the Wa, Bongo and Kasena-Nankana West Districts despite modest gains made in the delivery of water and sanitation facilities,” the statement added.
This, the statement noted was not only undermining the human right to water and sanitation of citizens, especially the poor, vulnerable and marginalized groups in rural areas, but also made the fight against the spread of COVID-19 very weak and challenging.
It also recommended that the Ghana Health Service increase the supply and equitable distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other essential logistics to all frontline health workers at all levels of service delivery, especially those in under-served communities.
“All political parties and candidates for the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary elections should consider providing more face masks, hand sanitizers, Veronica buckets and liquid soap to the electorate for hand washing than the usual parties’ T-Shirts and other party paraphernalia”, it added.
The statement commended government for the three-month free water policy enjoyed by Ghanaians, and called on government to demonstrate high level of responsiveness to prevent the spread of COVID-19.