Accra, January 20, 2017- The Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) wishes to commend government for creating a Ministry dedicated to sanitation and water resources. “This is a dream come true as we have been calling for this 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.
CONIWAS believes that one of the factors contributing to low performance in the Water and Sanitation sector is weak coordination to low performance in the Water and Sanitation sector is weak coordination. This has mainly been due to scattered responsibilities for water and sanitation over different Ministries even though the sector believes in an integrated approach to promoting access to safe water and sanitation. At the local government levels too water and sanitation have not been attracting the priority they deserve.
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. More than five million people practice open defecation on daily basis and every district in the country contributes to this.
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, prioritization and investment at all levels accounts for the lack of the anticipated success. It is also our belief as a coalition 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.
While we endorse the creation of this ministry, we also make our structures available to 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 and partners to find lasting solutions to the sanitation and water challenges facing the country.