The Voice for Change (V4C) programme has been launched at Kasoa in the Awutu-Senya East Municipality of the Central Region with a call on the citizenry to ensure improved sanitation and hygiene in their communities.

The V4C is an evidence-based advocacy programme being implemented by SNV (Netherlands Development Organization) in partnership with the International Food and Policy Research Institute and funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Intervention Forum, a non-governmental organisation, is one of four local implementing partners under the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) component of the project in the Awutu Senya East Municipality.

The five-year project (2016-2020) is being implemented by SNV together with its local partners made up of civil society organisations (CSOs) in Ghana and other developing countries.

It aims to strengthen the capacities of local CSOs to generate reliable and relevant evidence to carry out evidence-based advocacy for sustainable improvements in key focus areas of the WASH, renewable energy, food security and nutrition.

Madam Nora Ollennu, the Chief Executive Officer of Intervention Forum, said lack of improved and sustainable sanitation and hygiene was one of the most pressing global issues that needed most attention.

She said the WASH component of the project dubbed: ‘Ghana Sanitation and Hygiene for All (SH4ALL)” aims at intensifying the voice of CSOs and the citizenry to demand equitable, affordable and sustainable sanitation and hygiene services and improved policy implementation at the district level.

The project targets stakeholders including the Awutu Senya East Municipal Assembly, traditional authorities, waste management companies, microfinance institutions and banks, community-based organisations and the media to help realise the project objectives.

Madam Ollennu said the Intervention Forum has, over the past decade, worked to improve the circumstances of deprived communities by assisting them through capacity building to identify and solve their own problems and enhance their quality of life.

Citing a 2015 WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme report, Madam Ollennu said 2.3 billion people globally did not have access to adequate sanitation, meaning that one in three persons did not have access to improved sanitation.

In Ghana, she said, as of 2013 less than a quarter of the population was found to be using improved sanitation facilities.

This, she said, had translated into multiple negative effects on individual and communal livelihoods, health, academics, productivity and national income.

‘’Clearly, sanitation and hygiene issues need to be high on the country’s agenda and requires prioritisation by the Central Government, metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies, CSOs, traditional heads, the private sector and all other relevant stakeholders,’’ she said.

This, she said, would ensure that the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all was achieved.

Mr Michael Mensah, the Municipal Chief Executive of the Awutu Senya East Municipal Assembly, who launched the project, said Kasoa, the municipal capital and one of the fastest developing areas in Ghana, had a herculean task of dealing with environmental sanitation.

He referred to the deplorable sanitation situation in Kasoa which had been compounded by a rapidly expanding market, tonnes of refuse generated daily, poor drainage systems, littering of plastics and inadequate places of convenience.

He said the Municipal Assembly’s sanitation bye-laws had been gazetted by the Government and would, therefore, be implemented to the letter and warned residents to abide by them.

The event, which was chaired by Nai Kojo Larbi, Bemuhene of Ofaakor, attracted a wide range of stakeholders including officials of the Assembly, zonal and unit committee members, landlords associations, market women, farmers, traditional authorities and religious bodies.

GNA/Newsghana.com.gh