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Resource gaps militate against sanitation, hygiene policy – Expert

By Ray
Ankomah, GNA

Awutu Beraku (C/R), July 29, GNA – Mr Felix
Jefferson Agyei Amakye, a governance expert, has deplored resource gaps in
executing the national Sanitation and Hygiene Policy, particularly in resource,
enforcement and funding.

He, therefore, called for the establishment of
sanitation and hygiene for Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies
(MMDAs) to ensure the effective enforcement of the laws.

Mr Amakye said this when he addressed a
stakeholders’ forum on Ghana’s Sanitation and Hygiene Policy organized by Voice
for Change (V4C) Partnership Project, an evidence-based advocacy programme, at
Awutu Beraku in the Central Region.

The V4C programme is being implemented by SNV
(Netherlands Development Organization) in collaboration with the International
Food and Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and funded by the Dutch Ministry of
Foreign Affairs.

The five-year project is being implemented by
SNV together with its alliance of local partner civil society organizations
(CSOs) and networks in Ghana to strengthen their capacities to generate
reliable and relevant data/evidence to carry out evidence-based advocacy for
sustainable improvements in key focus areas.

These relate to renewable energy, water,
sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and food security and nutrition.

The Ghana WASH component of the project is
dubbed Ghana Sanitation and Hygiene for All (SH4ALL) and Intervention Forum
(IF), a non-governmental organization, and one of four local implementing
partner CSOs tasked to implement the project in the Awutu Senya East Municipal
Assembly (ASEMA).

Mr Amakye told the stakeholders comprising
members of the District Assembly such as planning and budget officers,
environmental health officers, assembly members, zonal committee chairmen, and
unit committee members that the assembly’s sub-structures were endowed with
powers to check sanitation in the communities.

“It is not an individual concern but a
collective one, and therefore civil society involvement is key. It is a
difficult task but don’t back down or relax. Advocacy is difficult but we shall
give you the necessary support,” he assured the gathering.

During an open form, it became clear that many
communities in the district were overwhelmed by poor sanitation and mountains
of refuse, with some assembly members saying the assembly lacked the necessary
tools to work with.

However, Mr Amakye said the people did not
need to have these implements before disposing of refuse and filth in the
communities, and urged the people to tidy up their own environments.

It also became apparent that though bye-laws
on sanitation and hygiene existed, community awareness of these laws was quite
low, resulting in little or no knowledge about the adverse effects of poor
hygiene and sanitation.

Mr Amakye impressed upon officials of the
Awutu Senya District Assembly to gazette sanitation and hygiene bye-laws,
saying the process had been simplified and was no more complicated.

Madam Nora Ollennu, CEO of Intervention Forum,
local implementing agency for the V4C partnership project, said it took into
account the need to strengthen the capacities of local civil society
organizations (CSOs) to effectively position them to carry out evidence-based
advocacy for sustainable sanitation and hygiene improvements.

One of the short-term outcomes of the V4C project,
she said, was the enhanced capacities of MMDAs and private sector on the
existing sanitation and hygiene policies and on their roles and
responsibilities.

The stakeholders’ forum was therefore intended
to strengthen the existing capacities of key actors at the district level on
the Environmental sanitation Policy (ESP) and its supporting strategies to
allow for their effective role play and coordination in the delivery of
improved sanitation and hygiene at the district level.

“It is also intended to allow us reflect on
existing sanitation policy implementation and financing gaps at the district
level so that we can collectively work towards ameliorating them,” she stated.

Nai Pobee Abundam VII, Nifahene No 1 of Awutu
Beraku Traditional Area, in an interview with V4C, said he appreciated the
essence of the forum, adding: “I have much appreciated today’s forum. Our
community is quite large. In view of this, we are not able to deal effectively
with the sanitation situation here.

The forum has indicated the magnitude of the
sanitation situation in our community. I have therefore decided to take the
issue to our traditional council to see how best, as traditional authorities,
we can deal with the situation.”

Touching on threats from some members of the community
against environmental officers, Nai Abundam said: “Every chief has his own area
of jurisdiction. So we shall meet and pass bye-laws to effectively deal with
offenders and ensure that no sanitation official is threatened or beaten up.”

Madam Cynthia Sankofi, Cooked Food vendor,
also told V4C that she was aware of bye-laws on cooked food sellers.

“We have the bye-laws here so we are aware of
them, so it is not something new at all. Every year, we are made to undergo
health screening to check our health status. This is to ensure that anyone
suffering from malaria or typhoid or any other communicable disease is not
allowed to cook and sell. Your health report will indicate whether you can or
cannot sell food to the public.”

Asked how she would pass on this message to
her children, Madam Sankofi said: “As a mother, I shall teach my children to
embrace proper sanitation and hygiene at all times. I believe that if the child
receives good training, he or she will carry this into adulthood.”

She, however, said the main problem at Awutu
Beraku was the heap of refuse that had piled up for several years, saying: “It
is now a big problem,” and stressed the need for the authorities to remove it
or get it levelled up to allow for another round of disposal.

GNA

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