George Mhango in Tunis
April 02, 2013
Countries or government should be held accountable once they fail to provide water and sanitation services and resources to the masses.
This is according to some of the delegates that attended the launch of the Regional Coordination Committee (RCC) for the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI) in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia last week.
The committee launched on March 27, 2013 consists of 18 members. It has a lead role to play in advocacy and promotion of resource mobilization for the Rural Water and Sanitation programs, facilitation of regional and international awareness, inter-governmental coordination, knowledge sharing and peer review and promotion of national and regional monitoring and reporting among others functions.
It will be supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB), which launched the RWSSI in 2003 in a mission to ensure universal access to water and sanitation by 2015 and beyond if governments apply for funds from AfDB’s trust fund basket.
For the AfDB, the adoption of the RCC is the only solution that will ensure that rural communities are provided with water and sanitation services, thereby curbing the many water challenges and sanitation hiccups faced in many countries.
While, Malawi and Zambia are said to be struggling according to Water Aid, an international organization and the two respective governments due to lack of investments, Ghana seems to be making positive progress.
The Ghanaian Government has since vowed to continue making provision of safe drinking water and improved sanitation a priority to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) by 2015.
The country, despite its efforts to provide water to both rural and town dwellers, has not managed to achieve the MDG, with just two years to go, something water and sanitation campaigners say need more resources.
Dr Joseph Kwado Asenso from Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning said this during his presentation dubbed ‘Funding Allocations to Rural Water and Sanitation’ at a two-day meeting on rural water supply and sanitation initiative RWSSI held in Tunisia with funding from the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Asenso pointed out that since water and sanitation are two of the key drivers of infrastructure development in Ghana in the medium to long term, government is initiating a sustainable Rural Water and Sanitation Project.
He said: “The project is targeted to improve access to water and sanitation for 600 000 people in specific areas through a 5-year 20 000 borehole delivery programme; and peri-urban, rural and small-towns water and sanitation project.”
Asenso added that the percentage of population with sustainable access to safe drinking water sources stands at 63.3 for rural areas and 63.4 percent for urban centers, a clear signal that the MDG target has not been met because the required percentage is 70.
“Ghana’s Development Partners have come in strongly to assist Government in the effort to increase access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation. At 79.1 percent, the budget of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing is donor-dependent,” he said.
He further said as part of efforts to address the deficit in water provision in schools, the government has decided, as a priority over the medium term, to ensure that all primary, junior and senior high schools in the country have access to clean and potable water.
“This is why in our sustainable rural water and sanitation project, there will be the drilling of 1 200 new boreholes; rehabilitation of 400 old boreholes; 40 limited mechanised water facilities; and 29 small town systems,” Asenso stated.
To underscore, the fact that Ghana is committed to providing water and tangible services to the rural masses, the Ministry of Finance and the Rural Water and Sanitation Sector have collaborated informally over the years.
“MOF has received a formal invitation to serve on a Committee on Rural Water and Sanitation” Asenso explained.
To this effect, Asenso added voice to the launch of the Regional Coordination Committee (RCC) that will promote, coordinate and lobby for resources issues of rural water supply and sanitation among countries in Africa to achieve the MDG.
Asenso explained: “Need to make the implementation of country commitments to water and sanitation a trigger to the release of donor funds; need for improved sector coordination; need for sector-wide investment plans to rehabilitate and expand distribution networks; need to develop adequate sanitation facilities, among others.”