Bongo Traditional Council envisions WASH fund - Move to bridge gap in WASH infrastructure
A major challenge confronting the people in the Bongo District in the Upper East Region is inadequate access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities.
Contributing to this age-old challenge in the entire district is high fluoride content in their drinking water, which has led to the residents having discoloured teeth and bone-related infections.
The high fluoride content in the groundwater in the district has resulted in the capping of some boreholes after being drilled to prevent the residents from drinking the water to compound the existing health problem in the area.
The water coverage in the district currently stands at 81 per cent with safely managed drinking services pegged at 24 per cent, basic drinking water services covering 39 per cent, while limited drinking water services stand at 18 per cent.
In terms of sanitation, the district has 38.8 per cent coverage, with only 63 communities out of 168 declared open defecation free.
Interestingly, 14 health facilities and 40 basic schools in the district do not have access to WASH facilities, compelling nurses, patients, teachers and pupils to access such services in the open with its attendant environmental consequences.
Despite efforts over the years by the district assembly, civil society organisations (CSOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGO), the district continues to grapple with this long-standing challenge.
Participants after the meeting
During a meeting organised by the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) with Trustees of WaterAid, a WASH focused international NGO in attendance, the Paramount Chief of the area, Naba Baba Salifu Atamale Lemyaarum, announced the traditional council’s decision to set up a fund to help improve WASH facilities within the traditional area.
Subsequently, during the celebration of this year’s fire festival of the chiefs and people of the area which would be climaxed on December 16, 2023, the fund would be officially unveiled with funds raised during the durbar to kick-start the operation of the WASH fund.
He stated that although WaterAid Ghana was doing a lot to tackle the situation, they needed to show their commitment towards the realisation of the efforts of the organisation for their mutual benefit.
Naba Lemyaarum stated that there were some people in the district who could not afford to construct WASH facilities in their houses, adding “therefore, the fund will address it by assisting such people to construct household toilets to improve the sanitation situation in the district.”
He said “as a traditional council, we are committed to this and we will ensure that by 2030, the entire district will be open defecation free so as to stop the spread of sanitation-related infections”.
He acknowledged that even if the people were provided with good drinking water and others still practiced open defecation, the fecal matter would pollute the water with its negative consequences.
While commending WaterAid Ghana for its interventions in the area since 2010, he assured the gathering that the fund would be sustained to offer complementary support towards achieving universal WASH coverage in the district.
At the event, the Chief Director of the RCC, Alhaji Abubakari Inusah, said the government was committed and was doing everything possible for the provision of quality water for the people of Bongo.
He noted that due to the existence of the Vea Dam in the district, discussions were underway with the management of Ghana Water Company Limited to explore the possibility of extending water supply to the town to bring relief to the residents.
While acknowledging that it was the responsibility of the government to provide water to the people, he thanked WaterAid Ghana for its resolve to contribute towards providing WASH facilities for the people.
For her part, one of the WaterAid Trustees, Rachel Westcott, expressed excitement about the decision by the traditional council to establish a fund to fast-track efforts towards the provision of WASH infrastructure in the district.
She said “obviously, this is a bold and courageous step by the people to complement efforts being done to provide water and sanitation facilities for them.”
The District Chief Executive, Rita Atanga, in a remark, said the assembly would keenly monitor interventions being undertaken by WaterAid Ghana so that they achieve the desired results in the area.