Alban S.K. Bagbin, Speaker of Parliament, has emphasized the need for more money and investment to support WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) access in slum areas.
Furthermore, he added, more money must be allocated fairly to guarantee that all communities in need of WASH facilities are taken care of.
Over 31% of rural regions still practice open defecation, a practice that is harmful to one’s health and well-being, he asked. How, he asked, can Ghana advance in its development agenda?
Mr Bagbin said this in a speech read on his behalf by his counsel, Magnus Kofi Amoatey, at a parliamentary dialogue in Accra yesterday[September 29, 2022] on ways of enhancing WASH services delivery in the northern part of the country.
Organised by World Vision Ghana, a non-governmental organisation, the event brought together 12 Members of Parliament (MPs), mostly from the northern part of the country, policy makers on WASH and other civil society organisations.
It was on the theme “Prioritising WASH in Northern Ghana for accelerated socio-economic wellbeing.”
The National Director of World Vision Ghana, Dickens Thunde, said MPs as direct representatives of people played a key role in the quest to improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities as part of the sustainable development goals.
Statistics from the 2021 population and housing census (PHC) revealed that the five northern regions did not have adequate access to WASH services and facilities as compared to other regions.
The PHC indicates that although averagely 87 per cent of Ghanaians have access to some form of safe drinking water, the five regions in the north fell below the national average to about 60 per cent.
For instance, while Greater Accra and Ashanti Region had 97.7 and 94.5 per cent respectively, North-East had 54.5 per cent.
Again, while the PHC indicated that the national average for open defecation was 17.7 per cent, the five northern regions had more than 50 per cent of its population practicing open defecation.
Savannah Region and Upper East Region recorded open defecation rates of 68.5 per cent and 68.4 respectively as against the national of 17.7 per cent.
Commenting on the issue, the MP for Garu in the Upper East Region, Albert Akuka Alalzuuga, said there was inequality in the distribution of resources with the five northern regions at a disadvantage.
“People in certain areas due to influence and political expediency are able to attract development projects, but others are not able to do that and this should not be the case, he said.
The MP for Ahafo –Ano North, Suleman Adamu Sanid, said the country would not be able to effectively address the problem of lack of WASH facilities without tackling the problem of settlement.
According to him, people tend to create new settlements without taking into consideration the availability of social amenities.
“A borehole is drilled in one community and in a short time another person has created another settlement not far and is calling for water. We should not allow people to settle anywhere where access to amenities does not exist,” he said.
The MP for Tempane, Lydia Lamisi Akanvariba, said apart from providing WASH facilities in deprived communities, there was the need for increased education to encourage people to have attitudinal change on how to promote hygiene.
“Some people have washroom facilities in their house but they feel it is good to do open defecation. We must educate people about the negative effects of open defecation,” she said.