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Ghana must double up to achieve SDG 6

BY: Courtesy: Water Aid
Over five million Ghanaians do not have access to a safely managed supply
Over five million Ghanaians do not have access to a safely managed supply

Latest data from UNICEF and WHO indicate that Ghana has made slight improvement to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) access between 2000 and 2017.

The percentage of people with clean water has increased by 17 per cent and those with a decent toilet has grown by nine per cent. Despite this level of improvement, Ghana still has more work to do to ensure a basic level of WASH access for all.

Nineteen per cent (5,478,460) Ghanaians still do not have clean water and 82 per cent (23, 643,880) do not have a decent toilet.

The current rate of progress is too slow to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 which requires that every Ghanaian has adequate access to WASH by 2030.

The 17 per cent increment in water access falls below the ambition of SDG 6 of everyone having access to a safely managed water supply which demands that everyone has a household service that is reliable and tested to be safe.

Over five million Ghanaians do not have access to a safely managed supply.

Twenty-four per cent of them spend over 30 minutes to access water from an improved source and the rest use water from unsafe sources, putting them at risk of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera.

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Per SDG 6, every Ghanaian must have access to “safely managed sanitation” by 2030. This means providing everyone with a toilet that is linked to a system of safe waste disposal.

Statistics from the current study shows that only 18 per cent of Ghanaians enjoy this basic service. The rest, 50 per cent, have limited access (use shared toilets), 13 per cent use unimproved toilets (unsafe and uncovered dug outs that allow flies access to excreta) and 11 per cent (over three million Ghanaians) defecate in the open (along beaches, in gutters, alley ways etc).

Health implications

We have just a little over a decade to go and without a dramatic progress shift, universal access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) will not be achieved for decades and will undermine the progress of virtually every other SDG.

This means the health and prospects of the affected people are being held back because they do not have the basic human rights of clean water and decent sanitation.

The Country Director of WaterAid Ghana, Mr Abdul-Nashiru Mohammed, said, “We must turn our attention to closing the huge gaps that exist between the experiences of the poorest and richest people.

It is the poorest and most marginalised people who have the most to gain from accessing good water, sanitation and hygiene services and breaking free of poverty.”

“We need an urgent step change in how we all work towards the goal of universal access. Clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene together is the foundation that underpins almost all the SDGs, from health to education, to nutrition and the environment.

There can be no end to poverty without universal access, but we are still failing to make this a reality.”

Critical impact

As Ghana prepares to attend this year’s high-level political forum on the sustainable development goals, WaterAid wishes to remind duty bearers about the positive impact of improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) access on the achievement of all the UN development targets.

Improved WASH access frees women to engage in income generating ventures to support their families. Adequate WASH access in schools creates a congenial learning environment for schoolchildren and reduces absenteeism, especially among girls.

Access to WASH in communities enhances the practices of good hygiene, eliminates open defecation and prevents the spread of WASH-related diseases and needless deaths, especially among children under five.

Access to adequate WASH in healthcare facilities, especially centres that provide maternity services, protects the lives of newly born babies and their mothers.

It also facilitates good hygiene practice among healthcare givers and thus saves them from infections.

WaterAid is calling on the government to increase investment to improve WASH access in Healthcare facilities, schools and communities.

There must be a WASH component in every sector budget, timely releases and proper utilisation to propel Ghana towards achieving universal access by 2030.

The government must not leave the work on development partners alone because Ghana cannot achieve agenda 2030 with only donor funds.

The government must lead the process. Commitments made at international development fora must be met with the right investments.

The Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources and district assemblies must be given enough resources to work and fulfil their mandate.

This article is by WaterAid, an organisation working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation.

For more information, visit www.wateraid.org, follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.