Most Ghanians lack safe water and sanitation
By Godfrey Olukya 21-2-2013
An international water related charity organization, WaterAid released a report in which it has said that the government of Ghana is failing to keep its promises on funding for sanitation and providing of safe water.
The report warns that unless investment is increased, the challenges of urbanisation, inequality of access, climate change and population growth risk turning back the clock even further.
According to the report, from 1990 to 2010, the population of Ghana grew by 9.4 million, however only 2.3 million people secured access to sanitation over the same period. In total, nearly 21 million out of 24 million people, 86% of the population, are without access to a safe improved toilet. Almost 50% use shared latrines while 19% practice open defecation.
The report further indicates that between 2008 and 2011 Ghana has spent on average 0.34% of its GDP cedi 116.45 million on water and sanitation combined). This is far short of the 0.5% of GDP that the Government committed to spending on sanitation alone through the 2008 eThekwini African Union declaration(4).
The WaterAid report calls on the Government of Ghana, alongside other African governments, to not only meet their 2008 eThekwini spending commitments of 0.5% of GDP, but to go further by aiming to spend at least 1% of GDP on sanitation and hygiene, in line with the recommendations of a 2011 World Bank report.
The report also highlights World Bank figures showing that poor sanitation access currently costs Ghana 1.6% of its GDP a year. This is four times the average annual amount being spent to improve access to both water and sanitation.
Dr. Afia Zakiya, WaterAid Ghana’s Country Representative said, ‘Ghanians waste 850 million hours every year looking for somewhere to go to the toilet and you can add to this the costs of illness and medical bills of those contracting diseases due to the unhygienic conditions. Overall, the loss to Ghana is 420 million Cedis per year. Now is the time for the Government to meet its financial commitments on sanitation, and end sanitation and water poverty, and its daily toll on human life, health and livelihoods.’
Five years on, little progress has been made on separate budget lines for spending on sanitation and water, which is another key commitment made as part of the eThekwini declaration to improve accountability and track progress.