The Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) has held a forum in Tamale, Northern Ghana for its Northern sector players to discuss matters that bother on the achievements of the Sustainable Development Goal Six.
Sustainable Development Goal six aims at countries achieving Clean Water and Sanitation by 2030.
The SDG on Water and Sanitation which took off from 2016 as all the others seeks to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030.
CONIWAS as a key player therefore brought its members together to discuss action plans to find ways forward for the achievement of the SDG on Water and Sanitation.
The forum brought together stakeholders in the water and sanitation sector such as the Ghana Water Company Limited, the Community Water and Sanitation, NGOs and CSOs such as Water Aid, World Vision, WUZDA Ghana, Anthill Investment among others.
Upper East regional coordinator for the Community Water and Sanitation Agency, Mr. John Aduagye indicated that the forum was necessary because it has become critical for all to come together and find a lasting solution to the problems with unavailability of water especially in the rural areas and small towns.
He added that even though water is a basic social need, consumers also have to realize that it is only if it comes at a cost that it is sustained in terms of provision.
He however said private companies should not be allowed to take advantage of the unavailability of water to exploit the people.
‘’Water is basically a basic social need. We don’t expect private companies to exploit the situation and make money out of the ordinary people. But at the same time, we can’t always depend on donors or government to do the infrastructure when we are aware that there is money in the private sector to be invested in the water sector. The government and the private sector can work together for a win – win situation’’.
Mr. Aduagye believes that in the rural areas and small towns, community members can be made part owners of the water facilities.
He said the community ownership concept should not be done away with because it could be the surest way to solving the issues of maintenance which is making the availability of water difficult sometimes in especially the rural areas and small towns.
Public Relations officer for the Ghana Water Company Limited, Nii Abbey Nickolas indicated that the major challenge of the company in delivering good quality and adequate water for the people of the northern region has always been low investment in infrastructure.
He however pointed out that this has been necessitated by a lack a political will in governments committing resources to the water sector and the non-payment of bills by the consumer.
Mr. Abbey bemoaned the biased nature of almost all national and local policies towards water to the detriment of sanitation.
He believes that until issues of sanitation are taken serious as is done those of water, he is afraid we may forget about achieving the SDG six.
Programme Manager of WUZDA Ghana, Mr. abdul Karim Ziblim who is also northern sector coordinator for CONIWAS raised a critical issue about how water funding can be achieved by the people themselves through the Village Savings and Loans initiative (VSLA).
Mr. Karim said if proper attention is given to the initiative which is expected to build the spirit of community members on savings to fund their local development so as to enable ownership, communities might not have to wait for the government to fund infrastructure of water for them.
WUZDA Ghana is currently implementing the Village Savings and Loans in its operational communities and is expected to help community members champion their own livelihood initiatives and community development through that.
Consultant representing CONIWAS at the forum, Mr. Patrick Apoya said the Coalition would raise all the issues stakeholders have tabled at the national level to ensure more attention is paid to the water and sanitation sector to help in achieving the SDG six.
He also charged NGOs and CSOs to help community members understand that water is a right but should come at a cost if it should always be available.