“Is sanitation management not another euphemism for corruption in Ghana?” That’s a question a man who works with one of the big donor countries quietly asked me after I moderated an EU sponsored event last year. It became apparent at the event that local assemblies blamed sanitation for much of their spending but had very little results to show. The sanitation ministry announced last month that government has secured three million dollars to draw up a sanitation master-plan. One thing is sure; there would be a master-plan on how to steal and waste this money.
Ghana has been found to have had as many as 109 policies, strategies and guidelines developed to deal with its filth, and this for between 2002 and 2012 alone. Ill-gotten wealthy by creating loot and share minded politicians and so-called businessmen have been the results to show for the monies spent on those projects, not a clean Ghana. A water and sanitation analyst, Harold Esseku, got me fuming at the disclosure of what he termed excellent policies and strategies that are never implemented. He spoke at the launch of a sanitation campaign dubbed Ghana Action Series spearheaded by the One Ghana Movement.
This same week, OccupyGhana issued a statement demanding real action to get rid of the filth that engulfs Accra. Pastor Mensah Otabil drives home the central point about individual and collective responsibility when he notes that Accra is not filthy, the people who reside in it are. It is refreshing that individuals and civil society organizations especially the Dr Joyce Aryee and Dean Kofi Abotsi-chaired One Ghana Movement is making the crusade against filth a major focus for sustained action as it collaborates with stakeholders to educate and provide the means to encourage cleanliness. I have been at this crusade including condemning authority over the criminal waste of money in the name of waste management instead of enforcing existing effective laws.
Well, as the World Health Organization ranks Accra among the most dirtied cities on the planet, I repeat my call for aggressive enforcement of section 296 of the Criminal Offences Act that punishes anyone who “…in any town places, or causes or permits to be placed, any carrion, filth, dirt, refuse, or rubbish, or any offensive or otherwise unwholesome matter, on any street, yard, enclosure, or open space…“ This law is part of the reason we created the Sanitation Courts that have become courts for prosecution of all sorts of offences but sanitation cases. We actually repeated this offence and upgraded the punishment for it in 2012 in section 56 of the Public Health Act. An offender gets to pay a fine of up to GHC 3,000.00 or up to three years in jail or both.
Those of you paid to act if nothing moves you to, Google “Sanitation in Ghana” and see what pops up first in Wikipedia. Here it is: “Drinking water quality. The lack of clean drinking water and sanitation systems is a severe public health concern in Ghana, contributing to 70% of diseases in the country. Due to unclean water and improper sanitation, Ghana has 1,000 kids under five years old dying every day from diarrhoea, caused by this polluted water.”
I pray we will have more civil societies dedicate and pledge themselves to be faithful and loyal to preaching the right way in the national pledge and anthem like the One Ghana Movement is promising.
Samson Lardy ANYENINI