John Mahama, the Vice-President, has charged the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to fashion out strategies to reverse the slow pace of sanitation improvement.
In a speech read on his behalf at the first Ghana Water Forum in Accra yesterday, Mr. Mahama stressed that attainment of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on sanitation and water would have a multiplier effect on the achievement of the other MDGs.
A document issued at the forum by the Water and Sanitation Sector Monitoring Platform Ghana, stated that the country was on track to meeting the MDG of 78 per cent for the proportion of its population that uses improved water by 2015 and could exceed the target by six per cent.
However, it said, achieving the target for improved sanitation appeared to be difficult and required an average of six per cent coverage per annum between 2006 and 2015 for Ghana to reach the MDG of 53 per cent.
The document illustrated the figures in clearer terms by stating that the proportion of the population that used improved drinking water was 74 per cent and improved sanitation facility was 10 per cent in 2006.
“This means that about 5.7 million Ghanaians did not use improved drinking water and as much as 19.6 million did not use improved sanitation facilities in 2006,” it said.
On the theme, ‘Accelerating water security for Ghana’s socio-economic development’, the three-day forum brought together experts from relevant international agencies and institutions, including the country’s development partners, and ministries and departments.
It is in furtherance of the country’s water agenda and consistent with actions recommended by the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCoW), which prosecutes the region’s water security and sanitation commitments.
Vice-President Mahama said access by the poor to potable water was another major concern of the government. “Many Ghanaians still rely on streams, rivers and other unsafe sources, which has adverse effects on their health,” he said.
“Government will, therefore, increase support to the Community Water and Sanitation Agency and the Ghana Water Company to ensure safer water in rural areas and efficiency in urban water supply.”
As a demonstration of that commitment, he said the CWSA received its highest budgetary allocation this year, and added that the abolition of the five per cent contribution to the capital cost to rural water supply would also improve access to safe drinking water by many communities.
Ms. Eunice Dapaah, acting Country Manager at the World Bank, Ghana Office, called for more investments in water and sanitation in fast-growing peri-urban areas of the country. She also called for increased budgetary allocation for water and sanitation.
Mr. Albert Abongo, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, said in order to give it the needed wide exposure and involvement, the forum had lined up two important side events, the business roundtable on water, and children and youth forum.
Mr. Abongo said the roundtable would bring together corporate Ghana to discuss their contribution to the country’s water security, in the context of the business opportunities available while the children’s forum aims at exposing the youth to issues concerning water.