Not-for-profit organisation, World Vision Ghana has called on the government to speed up the establishment of a National Sanitation Authority.

According to the organisation's Technical Specialist for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), Yaw Atta Arhin the government must pay also attention to the National Sanitation Fund to ensure that sanitation issues are addressed.

He said all the ministries in the country have agencies that implement their policies except the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, which he said is detrimental to addressing issues in the sector.

“So you realize that for every ministry there are agencies that implement its policies, but when you come to sanitation there’s none, there’s no agency that implements the policies of the ministry regarding sanitation and so from the ministry you have to go all the way to the metropolitan municipal and district assemblies and it doesn’t work that way. That is why we think that there’s a missing link and have proposed that what will address this missing link is the establishment of the national sanitation authority which will run on professional lines,” he said.

According to the WASH Technical Specialist, the proposal for the establishment of the National Sanitation Authority dates as far back as 2017 but is yet to be considered.

“This thing was proposed way back in 2017, after the establishment of the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources. Stakeholders have met on countless occasions on this, they have sent proposals to the ministry, the ministry has gone ahead, I believe, to develop a cabinet memo. This thing has gone to cabinet and I understand that the decision is to ensure that all stakeholders are engaged so that when it comes out everybody will buy in. We believe that it is long overdue, and by now the authority should have been established because of the benefits that we envisaged,” Mr. Atta-Arhin said.

Mr. Yaw Atta Arhin raised these concerns on the sidelines of a workshop organized for some selected WASH journalists across the country.

The workshop, organized by World Vision in partnership with the Ghana WASH Journalists Network (GWJN) and the Media Coalition Against Open Defecation (M-CODe), was to sharpen the skills of the journalists in WASH reporting. It was also to improve their advocacy skills.

Mr. Atta-Arhin said there is added value in having a dedicated Ministry of Sanitation, which can speed up the processes.

“We think that there’s added value to having a dedicated Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources. I mean, all over the world water resources constitute a major development focus, and therefore it is important you ensure that it receives the highest level of political prioritization so that you are able to drive change and development.”

He said the National Development Planning Committee has also done an assessment of the SDGs, and its conclusion was that the water and sanitation sub-sector is a major driver of national development and should be prioritized because it has multiple effects on all other sectors of the economy.

“Water and sanitation also constitute a major component of social development like education, health, among others, and therefore when you have such a thing it is important that you prioritize it. I mean, bringing it under any other ministry will not give it the needed prioritization. Don’t forget that under the SDGs we had water and sanitation captured under environment, what informed the decision to now have a dedicated goal for water and sanitation under the SDGs? It is because of the lessons learned over the years and globally. So we think that when water and sanitation have a dedicated ministry, it is able to function well and support all other productive sectors of the economy,” he added.

He commended the media for the work they have done and encouraged them to do more.

He also urged the media to do more work on advocacy stories to hold duty bearers and policymakers accountable.

“You know there’s a limit to which NGOs, CDOs, and the private sector can go, but the government has the resources, and if the government decides to drive change in society they will go far, and we think that that’s what the media should be doing. Bring the issue of WASH to the front burner, engage the duty bearers, hold them to account, and ensure that they deliver good policies for the citizens,” he said.

Mr. Atta-Arhin said they at World Vision believe that to achieve the fullness of life for children and their families, it’s important that they have access to sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene services, adding that that is why World Vision is prioritizing these areas.

“We believe that it is fundamental and a catalyst for growth and an enabler for socio-economic development and therefore we prioritize it.”

“One of the things we believe in and it’s one of our core values is that we are partners, and so we partner with organizations, and individuals who are able and willing to support life in all its fullness for children. So we consider the media a very good partner, a partner that has the capability to drive change in society and cause transformation in society.”

He said it's for these reasons they are building the capacity of the journalists. “That is why we have brought the media here, to train them on international best practices and some new developments in the global landscape so that they can perform better,” he added.

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