The Coalition of NGO’s in the Water and Sanitation Sector (CONIWAS), has called for the redoubling of efforts to achieve the water and sanitation targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It indicated that the adoption of the SDG (6) raises the bar for the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector, requiring approaches that could provide safe, sustainable, affordable WASH services at scale.

However, three years into the implementation of the SDGs, Ghana’s national policies on water and environmental sanitation are yet to be sufficiently aliened to the SDGs and to address the emerging sector issues and challenges.

Mr Yaw Atta Arhin, the Vice-Chairman of the Coalition of NGO’s in the Water and Sanitation Sector, who read a press statement at the Pre-Mole briefing in Accra on Thursday, said although the SDGs require increased investment in WASH infrastructure beyond the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) levels, funding for WASH services have remained between very low; between (0.1 and 0.5 per cent) of Gross Domestic Product from 2017 to 2019 respectively.

He said the Coalition was of the view that the anticipated reduction in grant funding following Ghana’s attainment of a Lower Middle Income status coupled with low budgetary allocation to the WASH sector meant that the SDG targets were likely to be missed, he said.

Mr Arhin said this years’ event which marks the 30th edition of the Mole Conference series, would be held from November 4, to November 8, 2019, in Ho in the Volta Region, with key activities such as paper presentation, plenary and expert discussions respectively, poster presentations as well as a the grand debate on the topic: “The Ministry of Sanitation and Hygiene is Meaningless without a National Sanitation Authority”.

He further stated that the Conference was considered as a ‘game changer’, because though a lot of things had been done in the past to improved WASH sector services, “there is the need to change the way we do these things,” in order to achieve the expected quality outcome.

“Simple providing a WASH facility is no longer sufficient- it needs to reliably provide high quality and convenient service at affordable rates,” and that in pursuing the drive for delivering sustainable services, efforts should be made to ensure equitable access across gender, location and socio-economic status, he said.

This, he said, would ensure that everyone everywhere in Ghana had access to water, sanitation and hygiene by the 2030 SDG timeline, or earlier in 2025 as contained in the Government of Ghana timeline in the Water Sector Strategic Development Plan (WSSDP: 2012-2025).

He noted that currently, beyond challenges with weak policy and funding, the majority of Ghanaians lacked access to safely managed WASH sector services, with only 21 per cent of the population having access to basic sanitation services, while 22 per cent still defecated openly.

Mr Arhin stated that presently, only 27 per cent of the population have safely managed water access to their premises, and between 70 to 80 per cent of household and communal solid waste were collected; 58 per cent of schools lack water supply; 36 per cent of schools lack toilets, and 54 per cent of the population did not have access to basic handwashing facilities.

“There is also marked inequalities across rural and urban areas, and across gender, adding that a large percentage of health facilities across the country especially in the rural communities do not have access to basic WASH services in the premises which impact negatively on Maternal and Child Health services,” he said.

He gave highlights of some effects of poor WASH services, key among them being the persistent ill-health and death particularly among children and infants.

Mr Arhim said the objective of the Conference therefore was to strengthen civil society’s role in stimulating development and implementation of actionable policies, plans and programmes for achieving improved access to WASH, working actively in partnership with the Government of Ghana, development partners and the private sector.

It would also reflect on the progress of work in terms of sector advocacy, highlight on cutting edge solutions including those that leverage public-private partnerships in delivering cost effective, affordable and inclusive WASH services for scaling up.

“Again, the conference would review ongoing and proposed sector policy reforms and the extent to which these are consistent with the Government’s overall vision for the WASH sector and the SDGs; and develop actionable recommendations for implementation and reporting back to stakeholders,” he added.

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