The 29th edition of the Mole Conference series organised by the Coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) is currently on-going at Sogakope in the South Tongu District of the Volta Region.
The annual Mole conference series which is the biggest meeting platform to discuss national Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) issues is on the theme: “Reforming Ghana’s water, sanitation and hygiene sector towards universal access”.
Addressing participants at the opening ceremony, the Executive Chairman of the Coalition of CONIWAS, Mr. Martin Dery said the Coalition is charting a new path on building a critical mass of people with individuals and sector players to transform policies and strategies into action.
According him without a vibrant and empowered Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), democratic will be weakening on a path which excludes citizen participation towards progress.
He stressed that more effort will be directed towards encouraging indigenous people at the grassroots level to take part in decision making platform come Mole 30.
Mr Dery however, refuted criticisms from some quarters that CONIWAS which used to be vibrant in the past has lost its bite because the coalition has stopped using the aggressive method in registering home their demands.
“No the coalition today is the same as the coalition you have known yesteryears, the only difference is that the current crop of leaders under the new CONIWAS focuses on results without unnecessary debates and banter with governments” he explained.
Mr. Dery noted that the reason for the establishment of CONIWAS was to broaden the ownership of the Mole Conference which started 29 years ago to encompass all for a sustainable WASH sector.
The Executive Chairman of the Coalition of CONIWAS boasted that calls from the Mole conference series have played key role in various institutional reforms in Ghana’s WASH sector.
According to him, the Mole conference has led to de-coupling of rural water supply from the functions of the then Ghana Water and Sewerage Corporation, culminating in the establishment of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency, which has made it possible for majority of rural communities in Ghana to gain access to improved drinking water today.
On his part, the Paramount Chief of Tefle Traditional Area, Togbe Nakakpo DugbazaVIII who chaired the occasion noted that issues on WASH especially water should be treated with the needed attention it deserved, saying water is more essential than education.
Togbe DugbazaVIII argued that it is practically impossible for anyone to go 72 hours without water. “No human being can live without water for days and survives but there are millions of people who have no formal education yet they have made it big in life” he reiterated.
He further explained that even though education is important, both the educated and none educated, can all make a living for themselves no matter what at their levels, however, none of them can survive the singe of thirst without water.
“Water is more essential than education because if you are not educated, you could work, live and do many things to survive, but you cannot live or stay alive without water for 72 hours. You will eventually dehydrate and die,” the Paramount Chief of Tefle Traditional Area maintained.
“Ladies and gentlemen gathered here, water is an indispensable commodity that sustains life, safety and security of every nation.” He emphasized
The Paramount Chief of Tefle Traditional Area comments came on the heels of the declining efforts in the WASH sector due to the lip services past and present governments pay to issues of WASH.
He noted that dwindling donor funding as well as inadequate budget allocation coupled with weak implementation of policies, lack of enforcement of by-laws / regulations and lack of foresights from policy maker calls for a worry.
According to him access to water and clean sanitation should be considered a fundamental right of every person irrespectively of colour, status, religion, creed or geographical location.
“Am sometimes saddened that Ghana at age 60, has failed to prioritize the WASH sector which is critical to survival of every life on earth,” the Paramount Chief intimated.
Togbe DugbazaVIII revealed that under-invoicing and over-pricing of services rendered in recent times and the financial malfeasance that characterized rural and town water service delivery is retarding progress in the sector.
The Paramount Chief therefore urged government to increase its sustainability efforts in the WASH sector with innovative approaches towards addressing the issues for a better Ghana.
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH
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