A study by the World Health Organisation in 2004 showed that USD 1 invested in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services would yield an economic return of between USD 3 and USD 34, depending on the region and choice of technology.
This return of investment in WASH services, the WHO study said, would make investors in stocks and shares on the Ghana Stock Exchange envious.
In spite of this, the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) say, Ghana governments continue to allocate inadequate budget and investment to WASH sector ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to implement their action plans.
This coupled with the untimely release of resources to MDAs under the Ministries of Water Resources, Works and Housing, and Local Government and Rural Development according to CONIWAS, further impacts negatively on the implementation of these action plans.
Benjamin Arthur, National Coordinator of CONIWAS who made these observations in Tamale recently during a media engagement on Ghana’s 2015 budgetary allocation to the WASH sector, passionately appealed to government to allocate more funding to WASH sector agencies and departments to carry out their plans.
CONIWAS Northern Regional Coordinator, Abdul-Karim Ziblim in a welcome statement, said it was very necessary that when a government read its annual budget, citizens and civil society organisations take their time to interrogate the various aspects of it and make recommendations to government with regards to areas of the budget that they think needs review.
|CONIWAS Nat'l Coordinator|
It was on this basis, he said, CONIWAS decided to organise a media engagement involving journalists and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the WASH sector to interrogate the 2015 budget statement of the government which was read by Finance Minister Mr. Seth Terkper in November last year.
Mr. Ziblim called on the media to endeavour to explain the governance issues in the water sector to citizens to appreciate them better and make informed decisions that would impact on their lives positively.
There was lag in resources according to Mr. Arthur to meet the investment needs of the WASH sector, stressing that that would affect the delivery of WASH services to the population. “The per capita expenditure for WASH sector ministries of GH¢36.94 (MLGRD GH¢10.92 and MWRWH GH¢26.03) is very low as compared to that of Health and Education ministries”, he indicated.
He also observed that, though Ghana had achieved the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for water, the level of investment in the 2015 budget would not enable the country to deal with inequity in service delivery.
“Ghana is off-track the MDG target for basic sanitation and hygiene services delivery. However, the level of investment in the 2015 budget statement would not provide the needed impetus to ‘leap-frog’ to reach the MDG target of 54% by end of 2015”, he emphasised.
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Targets set in the budget statement for WASH sector is normally in the form of projects to be initiated and completed. But such targets, Mr. Arthur said, do not translate into the number and category of people services would reach when completed.
The 2015 budget statement is also silent on proposed review of the National Water Policy. This policy was developed in 2007 and was due for review in 2012. The 2013 budget statement identified it as one of the activities to be implemented in 2013. This was not achieved and was therefore restated in the 2014 budget statement. This among other issues according to CONIWAS ought to be addressed adequately and urgently by government through the two WASH ministries.
Report from service providers –Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and Community Water and Sanitation Agency– indicates that about 37% of the population in both rural and urban Ghana do not have access to sustainable improved water supply services.
However, a multiple indicator cluster survey (MICS) in 2011 also indicated that 80% of the population had access to improved sources of drinking water. The survey also revealed that only 15% of the population had access to improved toilet facilities with 23% defecating in the open.
The MICS survey on MDG 4 and 5 further indicated that 5,100 children under the age of five die every year of diarrhoea-related diseases with about 90% of the death being contributed by poor WASH services.
Going forward, CONIWAS National Coordinator recommended Ghana kept her promises and commitments made at international and national levels which when redeemed would enhance the speedy delivery of potable water supply on sustainable basis to the citizenry.
He also asked government to speed up the implementation of the recommendation of urban water restructuring implementation committee, which among other things recommended for improved governance and efficient management of GWCL under a defined performance agreement at all levels.
Mr. Benjamin Arthur further called on government to make special financial allocation to meet improved water supply conditions to the citizenry as well as enforce all relevant laws governing the protection of raw water resources to ensure that these vital resources were not unduly polluted through human activities.