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25 January 2017

CONIWAS: Ministry of Sanitation and Water a good move

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The Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) has commended the government for creating a new ministry dedicated to sanitation and water resources.

CONIWAS says one of the factors contributing to low performance in the Water and Sanitation sector is weak coordination.

“This is a dream come true as we have been calling for this for many years. It is our hope that this will go a long way to give meaning to Ghana’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 – Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all,” says Martin Dery, Chairman of CONIWAS in a statement.

The new ministry, according to CONIWAS will prevent the scattered responsibilities for water and sanitation over different ministries and enhance an integrated approach to promoting access to safe water and sanitation.

The Ministry of Sanitation and Water is among six new ministerial portfolios introduced by the Nana Akufo-Addo-led administration.

The administration explains that the decision to split water and sanitation from the erstwhile Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing stems from the neglect of water-related issues.

“A major challenge facing our country is access to water to our people. Indeed, ‘water for all’ is one of our slogans for our 2016 manifesto. As much as that is a challenge, equal is the challenge of our environment,” the President backed his initiative.

According to CONIWAS, at the local government levels, water and sanitation have not attracted the priority they deserve partly due to the fact that they do not have Directors representing their ministries within the MMDAs.

“As a result, even though the country is believed to have achieved her MDG targets for drinking water, available data from the state agencies –  both Ghana Water Company Limited and the Community Water and Sanitation Agency – indicates that less than 65% of Ghanaians have access to potable water, while according to the WHO/UNICEF JMP report only 15% of households in Ghana use improved toilet facilities,” said CONIWAS.

More than five million people practise open defecation on daily basis and every district in the country contributes to this, according to the Coalition.

“While there are a number of on-going interventions that have the potential to help the country to achieve total sanitation and water for all, CONIWAS believes that low political ownership,  prioritisation and investment at all levels accounts for the lack of the anticipated success”.

The Coalition adds that once all the water and sanitation agencies and their partners begin to operate under one Ministry, policies and strategies will be better aligned, owned, and easier to implement and monitor.

“This will be a potential for a coordinated and functional sector,” CONIWAS says.

“While we endorse the creation of this ministry, we also make our structures available to the government for further dialogue necessary to help shape this noble political idea of a dedicated ministry into a functioning technical and operational system to achieve maximum result for the people of Ghana. We, therefore, suggest the involvement of CONIWAS and civil society in drafting any policies and operational strategies necessary to help the new Ministry to settle and function well especially at these initial stages.

“Civil society in general and CONIWAS, in particular, have played a key role in supporting governments formulate policies, develop and implement strategies to both improve access to water and sanitation services and raise its profile. We will continue to play our well-known role of embarking on advocacy campaigns and dialogues with government and citizens to help increase awareness and raise the profile of the sector in the light of the ambitious new sustainable development goals,” the Coalition said in the release, Tuesday.

CONIWAS has promised to continue to work with government and partners to find lasting solutions to the sanitation and water challenges facing the country.

 

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