Patrick Baidoo
November 28, 2011

Ghana is set to boost plans for achieving the 54 percent Millennium Development Goal [MDG] target on sanitation as government with support from the United Nations [UN] launches a “Millennium Accelerated Framework”, document with detailed action oriented components to tackle the huge sanitation problems confronting the country.

The document prepared by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in collaboration with UNICEF and UN-Habitat both UN agencies, and sloganned “Go Sanitation Go”, is designed essentially to make access to sanitation facilities easy and affordable and also raise the needed capital in that direction. It critically takes into account the need to streamline structures and pave a conducive path to achieve the MDGs.

This has become necessary because according to statistics published by the UNICEF/WHO Joint Monitoring Platform, Ghana’s sanitation coverage stood at 10 percent as at the end of 2006, hence, Ghana ranks number 48 in Africa, out of the 52 countries reported and 14 out of the 15 countries in West Africa, beating only Niger to the last position.

The report further showed that both local and international reports indicate that more than four million people in Ghana resort to defecating in bushes, drains and fields, while the country was lingering with a 13 per cent threshold on the sanitation MDG ladder.

Hence, according to the UNICEF, Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene [WASH], Othniel Habila, in an interview with Ghana WASH Times in Accra recently, the document has outlined practical ways to deal with the bottlenecks which has resulted in the down trend on good sanitation practices and provision of facilities and has “A big potential to help achieve the MDG on sanitation or assist in making inroads before 2015, if we do not do business as usual”.

He noted,”Concrete analysis has been done in a number of areas and priorities have been assigned to ensure accelerated growth in the provision of sanitation facilities”, thus all is set to launch the document at the upcoming National Environment and Science Conference in Kumasi, from December 6 – 9, 2011.

Despite an increase in the number of latrines, open defecation is widely practiced in several developing nations

According to the UN WASH specialist , this document takes into consideration three critical elements like Community Lead Total Sanitation [CLTS], Micro – Financing of sanitation projects to scale up the process and a system for managing waste. The CLTS, as he said was moduled for dwellers and leaders in rural communities globally to conduct their own appraisal and analysis of open defecation (OD) and take their own action to become ODF (open defecation free), after being triggered.

At the heart of CLTS lies the recognition that merely providing toilets does not guarantee their use, nor result in improved sanitation and hygiene and also focuses on the behavioral change needed to ensure real sustainable improvements – investing in community mobilization instead of hardware, and shifting the focus from toilet construction for individual households to the creation of “open defecation-free” villages.

By raising awareness that as long as even a minority continues to defecate in the open everyone is at risk of disease, CLTS triggers the community’s desire for change, propels them into action and encourages innovation, mutual support and appropriate local solutions, thus leading to greater ownership and sustainability.

“This means that the era of providing subsidies to households to construct their own latrines over the years was over because the few years of introduction of this initiative everywhere has achieved more success than the subsidy based concept”, he noted.

The sanitation micro – financing strategy had also worked in Nigeria hence it’s worthy of emulation in Ghana, Mr. Habila indicated. “This concept basically looks at revolving loan schemes where members of business associations, traders and artisans are given monies to engage in economic ventures with the agreement that a portion of the profits would be used in the construction of sanitary or toilet facilities in their homes to scale up the process at the household level”. This forms part of strategic investment fund or plan as indicated in the document.

On the third approach, he outlined that it was meant to integrate waste management into the scheme of things with practical action oriented methods and measures. “The waste management approach will look at faecal waste and how it can be turned into an economic venture; treat both liquid and solid waste and how to decentralize the whole process efficiently.”

Mr. Habila, noted that it is incumbent on all that matter to ensure that the strategies and action plans outlined in the document is implemented and made to work because it would serve as a path to achieve the MDG on sanitation and help propel total development. “We should not do business as usual to achieve the sanitation objectives or make in roads by 2015.”

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