About 3.8 million people in the country still lack access to safe drinking water, Dr Freda Prempeh, the Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources has said.
Nonetheless, she said the country had made remarkable progress in the delivery of safe drinking water and was on track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Six (SDGs 6), about 87.7 percent of Ghanaians have access to basic safe drinking water.
Despite the achievement, Dr Prempeh said the nation ought to take water quality issues seriously to be able to derive maximum benefits from the use of water.
The Sector Minister said this when speaking at the opening session of the 34th Mole Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) conference, underway at Jirapa in the Upper West Region.
The CONIWAS, with support from its partners is organising the four-day conference on the theme “building inclusive and resilient Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) systems to reach the unserved” and attended by about 170 participants, comprising policy makers, government actors, practitioners, Members of Parliament (MPs) as well as Municipal and District Assemblies (MDAs).
The GAMA Sanitation and Water Project and the World Vision International also sponsored some members of the Media Coalition against Open Defecation (M-CODe) to attend the conference.
Dr Prempeh said illegal mining remained the “greatest enemy” for safe water delivery in the country, saying according to the 2018 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, five in 10 points sources and eight out of 10 household water, were contaminated with E-coli.
“As WASH stakeholders, we need to make our voices heard on the on-going discussions aiming at stopping galamsey. “It is costing our urban water utility company so much to treat water for human consumption”, she stated.
Dr Prempeh said it was time for everybody to be innovative and support the government in ensuring the the provision of resilient and sustainable WASH Infrastructure.
The provision of such infrastructure, the Minister also the Member of Parliament for Tano North Constituency said remained essential not only for public health but also for sustainable development, environmental protection, and community resilience.
She said assured her Ministry would continue to have open- door policy to welcome CONIWAS to discuss strategic policy issues that would impact and accelerate WASH service delivery in the country.
The Ministry is also committed to strengthen the enabling environment to attract private sector additional funding to reach the unserved and underserved with sustainable WASH services.
Dr Hafiz Bin Salih, the Upper West Regional Minister, indicated desperate the 76 percent water coverage in the region, access to Sustainable drinking water was still a huge challenge in the region.
He commended CONIWAS and its partners for their continuous support to helping to meet the water demand needs of the region and commended the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) as well.
Ms. Beata Awinpoka Akanyani, the Chairman of CONIWAS, explained the conference had witnessed consistent growth of interest and importance since it’s inception in 1989 among civil society, policy makers, local government and development partners alike.
In a brief history, she explained the Mole Conference was named after the Mole Game Reserve, near Damongo in the Savannah Region, and expressed appreciation to DANIDA and the World Bank, USAID and other development partners, both local and international, for their continuous support.
Among other objectives, the conference would also discuss how the implementation of resilient WASH systems will address access and equity, and how current service delivery models will impact Ghana’s pace towards achieving WASH for all.