Coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) has called on the Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources (MSWR) and the Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in particular to step up its coordination efforts to ensure that there is equity in the supply of safe water to every Ghanaian everywhere.
The Coalition hinted that it will be impossible for Ghana to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Water if the current levels of inequalities in water supply persist.
According to them SDGs Goal 6 enjoins countries to ensure availability and the sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, whilst Goal 10 emphasizes the need to reduce inequalities within countries.
Speaking at the World Water Day (WWD) media engagement ahead of WWD celebrations at the Conference Room of the World Vision Ghana office in Accra, the Vice Chairperson of CONIWAS, Mr. Atta Arhin explained that a study conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service dubbed: “the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 2017/18)” report reveals that in respect of water supply in Ghana there are vast inequalities between: the rich and the poor, urban and rural communities, administrative regions, and the educated and uneducated. This he indicated it will take a deliberate government program of action to correct these inequalities.
“According to the snapshots of the MICS 2017/2018 report, the rich person in Ghana is 46% more likely to have access to improved sources of drinking water than the poor. This means that as a country, we have not adequately developed a mechanism to protect the poor and people living in low income communities from using unimproved drinking water sources.
“Again the report, indicated that whereas 98% of people living in the Greater Accra Region have access to improved basic water supply services, only 50% of people in the Northern Region for instance (including Savanna and North East Regions) have access to improved basic water supply services, leaving a whooping gap of 48% between the two regions. The report also reveals that the gap between households with the household head having higher education and those where the household head has low or no education is 26%.” Mr. Arhin said.
The CONIWAS Vice Chairperson, was alarmed by the report findings that in Ghana today, if one choose to live in a rural area, that fellow/s are 25% less likely to have access to improved basic drinking water sources compared to someone living in an urban area.
He pointed out that these inequalities in resource allocation for water supply further entrench poverty among the poor since they are compelled to spend more time fetching water than their richer counterparts. Currently only one percent of urban dwellers still drink from surface water sources, whilst a whopping 16% of rural dwellers still drink from surface water sources.
For instance, Mr Arhin said whereas about 32% of rural dwellers spend more than an hour a day searching for water, people in urban areas are only 13% likely to spend over an hour in search for drinking water. Time spent in search of water can further reduce one’s productive hours and thereby continue to trap them in a perpetual cycle of poverty.
The CONIWAS Vice Chairperson stated that his outfit is of the view that as a country, we cannot allow background circumstances, income or educational levels to determine who drinks water from improved or contaminated sources. After all it is the fundamental right of every human being to be provided access to clean drinking water.
He stated further that under the Directive Principles of State Policy contained in the 1992 Republican Constitution, the state is enjoined to “promote just and reasonable access by all citizens to public facilities and services in accordance with law”. Saying the country’s National Water Policy already commits Government to delivering services in a manner that ensures that the fundamental right of all people to safe and adequate water to meet basic needs’ without discrimination is adhered to.
CONIWAS is therefore calling on the government to, as a matter of urgency: “increase financial allocation to drinking water supply and ensuring that investments made from such funds prioritize the needs of the poor and vulnerable in order to close the inequality gap;
“Be guided by the fact that access to basic drinking water is a fundamental human right, which is duly acknowledged by the National Water Policy; and strengthen all Ministries, Departments and Agencies and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, to be able to coordinate and appropriately direct resource allocations with the objective of reducing inequalities.”
The Coalition at the same time calls on its members and their partners to deeply reflect on adhering to country systems that aim at providing direction for resource allocation for the sake of balancing inequalities.
“We need to understand that if we refuse to be coordinated by government then we cease to have the moral justification to call for improved coordination by government.” He added.
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH
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