The ever increasing need for developing countries to ensure that better sanitation services are provided to their citizens has never been evident than now. Over 2.5 billion people, representing about 40 per cent of the world’s population practice open defecation or lack adequate sanitation facilities. The effect of this phenomenon can be dire, especially on human health and the environment in general.
Poor sanitation alone accounts for about 700,000 child deaths from diarrhea each year. Chronic diarrhea can hinder child development by impeding the absorption of essential nutrients and reducing the effectiveness of life-saving vaccines.
Making sanitation facilities and public services that work for everybody and that keep waste out of the environment is a major problem in developing countries. The toilets, sewers, and wastewater treatment facilities in advanced societies require more land and water, and they are costly to build, operate and maintain. The existing systems are cheaper, but unappealing because they do not kill pathogens, they retain odour and attract insects.
It is in view of this that the Chair Person of the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) Mrs. Maria Don-Chebe is of the view that solving the sanitation challenge in the developing part of the world of which Ghana is no exception, will require new innovations that are deployable on a large scale, especially in highly populated areas.
Welcoming participants to the 27th edition of the Mole Conference at Big Ada in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana, Mrs. Don-Chebe charged players in the WASH sector to come out with innovative and cost effective designs of WASH products and services to increase access to persons with disabilities and children, adding there was the need for innovative financing to enable poorer households to build and use sustainable and resilient latrines, especially in flood prone areas.
The Mrs. Don-Chebe said the fight to end sanitation and poverty was far from over since there was still a lot of hard to service communities yet to be reached with safe and affordable sanitation and there called for sector actors to begin to think outside the box in order to address the challenges confronting the sector.
The CONIWAS Chair, however, expressed delight that stakeholders in this year’s Mole Conference would be dilating on issues that would directly address the challenges, share and learn the practical success stories that are working very well around sanitation financing, WASH in Schools and Health facilities and the quest to achieve Open Defecation Free status.
Mrs. Don-Chebe said there was the need also for participants to share superior ideas on how to effectively build the capacities of WASH sector actors to carry out their advocacy roles effectively as well as track the WASH sector performance.
She said CONIWAS will continue to partner with all stakeholders in the WASH sector, including the Government to ensure that there is a vibrant WASH sector in Ghana which will work towards achieving the much desired SDGs on water and sanitation for all.
“it is clear that no single actor can achieve this laudable goal alone, there is the urgent need to ensure that all relevant actors come on board the SDG 6 boat, we in the Civil Society Organization (CSO) sector are aware that we have an even greater role to play in our collective effort at improving water and sanitation services for all,” Mrs. Don-Chebe stressed.
Making a presentation under the theme: “Spaces and Opportunities for CSO Advocacy Around SDGs,” the Country Director of WaterAid Ghana, Mr. Abdul-Nashiru Mohammed advised WASH sector actors to get out of their WASH boxes and work with other sector institutions if they want to make remarkable achievements in the SDGs on WASH.
To ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, Mr. Mohammed said calls for stronger collaboration and partnerships.
According to the WaterAid Ghana Country Director, WASH underpinned progress on a whole range of SDGs including those on health, education and gender equality, adding it was therefore crucial for governments across the world, including the Government of Ghana to recognize the importance of WASH for the country’s economic and social development. “Government should ensure that the goal on WASH is imbedded in national development and other action plans” Mr. Mohammed stressed.
WASH, the WaterAid Country Director explained should be seen as an essential component of an integrated approach to tackling poverty, hunger, health and inequality. “the goals and targets supported by WASH access include a good number of them, for instance, ending poverty, WASH is related to that, ending hunger, WASH is related to that, ensuring healthy lives, WASH is related to that, ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education, WASH is related to that, achieving gender equality, WASH is related to that, and making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, WASH is related to that.” Mr. Mohammed emphasized.
Mole Conference is one of the biggest Multi-Stakeholder annual platforms in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector in Ghana. The Platform, named after the venue of the maiden edition, Mole in the Northern Region of Ghana, is organized by the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) and brings together sector practitioners from NGOs, Government, Private Operators, Networks, CBOs, CSOs, etc. to dialogue, learn and share knowledge/information on specific themes that affect the sector.