The Omanhen of the Oguaa Traditional Area, Osabarimba Kwesi Atta II, has called for sustained efforts to deal with the sanitation challenges of the country.
He said if that was not done, not only would the health of the citizenry be threatened; it could also be a major drawback at efforts at promoting tourism in the country, particularly in the Central Region.
Osabarimba Atta made the call at a sanitation awareness forum organised by the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), in conjunction with Zoomlion Ghana Limited (ZGL), in Cape Coast yesterday.
“It is important to have an environment that is appealing and attractive to visitors. We cannot get visitors to patronise our tourist sites such as our beaches if they are unhygienic and unattractive,” he emphasised.
The forum, held on the theme: “National sanitation awareness campaign”, was intended to raise national discourse on how to manage and deal with the sanitation challenges in the country.
Launched in Accra on April 28, 2021, the campaign is advocating strict enforcement of sanitation bye-laws, as well as the naming and shaming of sanitation offenders.
The forum has so far been held in nine regions where stakeholders have discussed sustained ways of solving Ghana’s sanitation challenges.
Osabarimba Atta, who chaired the event, bemoaned open defecation at the beaches and called on the authorities to help clamp down on the practice to improve tourism.
According to him, it was a very worrying development that residents living along the beaches attended to the call of nature at the beaches which served as tourism hubs for many coastal communities.
He said open defecation at the beaches had the tendency to ward off tourists from visiting such places to boost the local tourism industry.
"Indeed, many countries around the world are reaping the full benefits from their beaches through tourism, and Ghana can do same by improving sanitation at the beaches to attract tourists," he said.
He added that in order for the nation to fully benefit from its natural environment, particularly beaches, it must take steps to make the beaches clean to boost tourism in coastal areas and improve the local economy as well.
“One challenge that needs to be tackled head on is open defecation at our beaches. That is not only unhygienic but also an action that does not promote tourism. We cannot attract tourists to particularly our beaches if we can not deal with the menace,” he said, and stressed the need for swift action.
The Omanhene commended the GCGL and Zoomlion for the collaboration aimed at complementing government’s agenda to improve sanitation in the country.
Strict enforcement of by-laws
The Central Regional Minister, Mrs Justina Marigold Assan, in her submission, charged metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to strictly enforce by-laws on sanitation to help address sanitation challenges in the region.
According to her, the strict enforcement of by-laws would help trim down insanitary conditions to a minimal level and help reduce the spread of sanitation-related diseases and infections in the region.
“It is important for MMDAs to strictly enforce existing by-laws on sanitation to win the fight against poor sanitation in the region for the ultimate benefit of all,” she said.
Mrs Assan emphasised that issues relating to sanitation were a shared responsibility, and that all major stakeholders were required to play their respective roles towards improving conditions in all communities.
She stressed the need for collective efforts by all stakeholders for the nation to be able to deal with all sanitation-related issues.
“Let us put our shoulders to the wheel and commit to improving insanitary conditions in the country. As a country, we can win the war against poor sanitation if the citizenry complemented efforts by the institutions and agencies mandated to spearhead the fight,” she indicated.
The Editor of the Daily Graphic, Mr Kobby Asmah, in a speech delivered on his behalf by the Deputy Editor, Mr Theophilus Yartey, bemoaned the poor attitude towards keeping the environment clean, stressing that it was nothing to write home about and rather cost the nation dearly.
He said it was time to deal decisively with non-conformists and punish sanitation offenders according to the law, adding: “Clearly, there is a problem dealing with filth in the country; to keep the nation clean will require an all-hands-on-deck approach.”
He noted that issues of sanitation were everybody’s business and not one-sided, and so demanding accountability from leaders alone would not yield the desired results.
“We should demand accountability from all and sundry, including those who litter the streets,” he stressed.
Whip up citizenry
Mr Asmah said the GCGL was focused on efforts to get the citizenry to adhere to good sanitation habits and practices, noting: “We are satisfied that the national sanitation campaign has received the backing of all MMDAs to enforce sanitation regulations aimed at keeping the environment clean.”
He said the GCGL and its partners were determined to sustain the sanitation awareness campaign and make the most out of it to help make the nation clean for the benefit of all, adding: “We hope to build such a collaboration with district assemblies to improve sanitation across the country.”
The Senior Communications Manager of the ZGL, Mr Adams Mohammed Mahama, disclosed that plans were underway for the construction of an Integrated Recycling and Composting Plant in the region.
He noted that the enforcement of by-laws and attitudinal change were key towards improving sanitation in the region, noting that “if these two measures are put in place and enforced, the region will be able achieve the expected results on sanitation”.
On how to address the issue of insanitary conditions in the region, Assistant Superintendent of Prisons Thomas K. Kumapley called on the government to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Ghana Prisons Service to engage inmates of the prisons to clean public places and other facilities on a regular basis.
“If we want to effectively engage stakeholders in fighting sanitation-related issues, I believe the government can partner the Prisons Service to get inmates to help clean up public places,” he said.
Other participants lamented the bad state of public sanitary facilities, stressing that their current state contributed to open defecation in some communities.
The Assembly Member for the Kru-Town Electoral Area, Mr Doffoe Forson, said most households lacked toilet facilities, while available public toilet facilities were in a bad state.
“The state of our public facilities is very bad and people who do not have toilets in their homes prefer going to the shore to ease themselves,” he said.
He called on government to ramp up on efforts at getting households to own toilets to address sanitation challenges, stressing: “There is the need to coordinate and sustain individual efforts at keeping personal hygiene and ensuring that local communities are kept clean at all times.”