RISE-Ghana, a Bolgatanga-based Non-Governmental Organization has applauded President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for creating a new ministry christened; Water Resources and Sanitation Ministry.
In a statement signed by the Executive Director of RISE-Ghana, Awal Ahmed, and copied to TopNews Ghana, the NGO considers the President’s decision to create the new ministry as very timely, appropriate and innovative as it creates a renewed sense of hope and expectation to tackle the huge sanitation challenges Ghana as a country and the Upper East Region in particular faces.
He says considering the sanitation standing of Ghana globally and the 2015 MDGs report which placed the country as the 7th dirtiest in the world, there could not have been a better time to create such a ministry than now.
If vetted and okayed by the vetting committee of Parliament, Joseph Kofi Adda, Member of Parliament for Navrongo Central Constituency in the Upper East Region will head the new ministry.
Below is the full statement:
Following the recent election of His Excellency President Nana Addo into the high office of the President of the Republic of Ghana, he moved to work by sharing his vision and mission to his fellow countrywomen and men through a series of press conferences and media engagements. One of the potentially paradigm-shifting moves he made was to rename/introduce a new ministry called Ministry for Water Resources and Sanitation. But one may ask, what is in a name? The answer can be found in the Biblical quotation of Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is more desirable than great riches”.
Considering the sanitation standing of Ghana globally and the 2015 MDGs report which placed the country as the 7th dirtiest in the world, there could not have been a better time to create such a ministry. RISE-Ghana considers it very timely, appropriate and innovative as it creates a renewed sense of hope and expectation to tackle the huge sanitation challenges Ghana as a country and the Upper East Region in particular faces.
For instance, data from I Am Aware Ghana (IAA) project, a Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) initiative funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation of the USA which RISE-Ghana serves as local partner online at www.imaawareghana.com indicates that over 40% of public schools in the Upper East Region do not have water and toilet facilities, a situation which can undermine the quality of education delivery and the health and wellbeing of children and teachers. Another IAA data generated from the Ghana Health Service further revealed that as at 2014 a total of 24, 253 diarrhoea cases were recorded in just 5 out the 13 districts of the Upper East Region with a whopping 8,745 cases coming from the Bongo district alone.
The 2011 Multi Cluster Indicator Survey (MICS) compiled by UNICEF Ghana and the 2015 BaSIS data by the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) indicates that 89% of the people of the Upper East Region practice Open Defecation (that is they defecate in the open, a.k.a Free Range) with only 3% using unshared improved sanitation facilities. This situation is highly unacceptable considering the national average of 22.9% practicing Open Defecation and only 15% having improved sanitation facilities nationally.
Another source of concern is the fact that, the MICS indicates also an increase in the number of Ghanaians practicing Open Defecation from 5.4 million to 5.7 million people between 2006 to 2011, albeit a drop from 24.4% to 22.2% largely due to population growth.
With these alarming statistics and the potential negative consequences of poor sanitation such as denial of children (especially girls) the right to education because schools lack private and decent sanitation facilities, loss of productive hours by poor farmer and female-headed households due to illness, epidemics as diseases are spread through contamination of food and drinking water, children suffering permanently from stunting as a result of poor sanitation, overburdened • Health systems and pressure of the national economies suffer.
The nomination of Hon. Kofi Adda, a native of the Upper East Region and MP for Navrongo Central should serve as great motivation to change our poor sanitation situation since the Upper East Region has the poorest outlook of 89% Open Defecation and hence that is where the impact must start from if indeed the old adage, “Charity Begins at Home” is anything to go by. The Minister Designate must work in close collaboration with Civil Society, the Media and Traditional Authority among others to change the picture in his own backyard, the Upper East Region and the country as a whole.
With all these statistics, overlooking issues of sanitation will not only constitute abuse of fundamental human rights but a serious crime against humanity. The relevance of this new ministry can not be over emphasized. It must however be noted that, novel as this new ministry maybe, it will not achieve its intended mandate if we remain spectators and maintain our bad attitude when it comes to issues of sanitation.