Govt loses $1.2Bn to Poor Sanitation – Prof. Gordon

Director of the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies, Prof. Chris Gordon, says the government has lost about US$1.3 billion dollars in the last four years due to poor sanitation in the country.

He said poor sanitation costs Ghana Gh₵1,300,000,000.00 and that the sum is the equivalent of US$12 per person in Ghana per year or 1.6percent of the national GDP.

Prof. Gordon said this during his presentation on the theme, “Ghana’s Lower Middle Income Status: Implications for Sustainable WASH Services Delivery,” as part of a three day MOLE XXVIII Conference by the Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation Sector (CONIWAS) in Accra.

According to him, Ghana seems to be running deliberately backwards because of the weaknesses in trying to address the sewage system which has engulfed the entire nation.

“Open defecation is a disgrace to the nation and every child that dies of avoidable WASH related disease is an indictment on us,” he stated.

In Upper East Region, Prof. Gordon indicated that 89 percent of the population practice open defecation (highest in Ghana) and only three percent use unshared improved sanitation facilities.

He added that nationally, on average, 22.9 percent do not have access to any sanitation facility and only 15percent use improved unshared sanitation facility.

In view of the recent creation of a new ministry for Sanitation and Water Resources, Professor Gordon urged CONIWAS to ensure that government does not abandon the sector.

Speaking on the opportunities for private sector participation, he emphasized that Ghana must see the opportunities, available technologies and financial resources to propel the water sector business development.

He noted that there must be an interactive platform for industry players and related organizations to network and exchange information adding that Ghana must learn about the emerging global trends and new innovations in water based industries.

“Promote domestic production of plants, equipment, chemicals and parts for the water sector rather than importing everything into the country,” Prof. Gordon noted.

Meanwhile, Ghana’s vision to achieve universal access to basic water supply by 2025, achieve universal access to basic sanitation (toilet) by 2025 and eliminate open defecation by 2020 through the strategic development plan (2012-2025) appears to be in limbo as checks have revealed that open defecation caused the country about $79 million a year.

A report from UNICEF states that three out of every five Ghanaians practice open defecation. The report states that Ghana could take about 500 years to eliminate the practice due to the slow pace at which strategies, laws and interventions are being implemented.

Source: Abubakari Seidu Ajarfor

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