Participants at an environmental protection event organized by a non-governmental organization have called for efforts by stakeholders to improve Ghana’s public hygiene and sanitation situation.

Felix Agyei Amakye, lecturer at the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS), Madina, a suburb of the national capital, Accra, believes environmental health and sanitation play an important role in the overall socioeconomic development of the nation.

The lecturer has been addressing a series of forums organized by Intervention Forum, a non-governmental organization, for stakeholders over the past two weeks at Kasoa and Awutu Beraku communities in the Central Region, some 30 km west of the capital.

Amakye says most of the problems in Ghana are due to a “defective environment which in turn rob people of their health, destroy their livelihoods and undermine their overall development potential.”

The consequences are environmental health and sanitation-related diseases like malaria, diarrhea, acute eye infections, typhoid fever, bilharzia, intestinal worms, and upper respiratory tract infections, among others.

He told officials of municipal, metropolitan and district assemblies (MMDAs), environmental health officers, zonal and unit committee members, traditional authorities and religious leaders that they must understand the issues and policies and invest in them.

Speaking on Ghana’s environmental sanitation policy, its broad principles, policy focus areas, Amakye told the stakeholders, including the private sector, community-based organizations (CBOs), civil society organizations (CSOs) and communities they must cooperate to halt the worsening environmental hygiene and sanitation situation in their communities.

Amakye also identified implementation and financing gaps such as inadequate allocation of resources for sanitation and hygiene at both national and district levels, low priority given by MMDAs to information, education and communication, sanitation and hygiene and weakening of monitoring and evaluation systems.

Other gaps are low collaboration among MMDAs, CSOs, waste management companies, traditional authorities and other district and community level actors on sanitation and hygiene issues.

The general observation by the stakeholders was that sanitation and hygiene had not received the desired attention, resulting in sanitation and environmental-related problems.

They also agreed on the need to prioritize sanitation and hygiene issues in the districts but called for effective collaboration, especially from the district assembly, traditional authorities, the private sector as well as effective implementation of sanitation and hygiene bylaws to combat the canker.

Nora Ollennu, Chief Executive Officer of Intervention Forum, organizer of the forums, said the stakeholder forums were intended to strengthen the existing capacities of key actors at the district level on Ghana’s Environmental Sanitation Policy and its supporting strategies.

She said they were also to allow for the stakeholder to reflect on existing sanitation policy implementation and financing gaps at the district level to collectively improve the situation.

A traditional ruler, Nai Pobee Abundam VII, told Xinhua in an interview he would convene a meeting of all the chiefs and elders of the area and pass strong bylaws to ensure the people obey them to ensure proper hygiene and sanitation for good and sustainable health.

The stakeholders agreed that a strong collaboration between public health officials, local government and civil society organizations was required to effectively deal with poor environmental sanitation and hygiene in Ghanaian communities. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh