World Bank calls for improvement in sanitation

Wed, 25 Mar 2009 Source: GNA

Accra, March 25, GNA - World Bank Country Director, Ishac Diwan on Wednesday noted that access to sanitation in Ghana was a mere 10 per cent and called on government to make strenuous efforts to increase it to about 40 per cent.

"The country has a huge task to tackle and there is the need to sit and plan how to deal with it," he said, when he paid a courtesy call on Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh in Accra.

Mr. Divan said there was need for capacity building in a decentralized manner to help achieve development goals and also ensure that contractors delivered qualitatively and on time. Ghana, he said, should adopt the "pollutant pays" principle to help reduce the burden of government bearing the full cost of sanitation. Mr. Divan expressed concern about living conditions in the three northern regions and noted that the idea of the Northern Development Fund was a healthy one to ease the burden on the people who faced drought, floods and economic degradation.

He called for investment in a productive safety net in the region to save them from catastrophic calamities and expressed the bank's readiness to provide resources. Mr. Divan asked the minister to identify areas of need for attention with the aim of tackling sanitation and problems of potable water and also making available to communities information on their rights and access to resources to improve their livelihood. Mr Chireh said the Bill on the Northern Ghana Development Fund would be revised to take on board pertinent issues including those raised by the World Bank Director.

The previous government in its 2008 Budget mooted the establishment of a development fund to address the yawning socio-economic and development gap between southern Ghana and the north. Known as the Northern Ghana Development Fund, it was set to begin with a GH¢25 million seed capital.

He noted that issues of water and sanitation were paramount to government and it would strife to put in place structures that would improve upon them, adding that communities would be involved in any infrastructure development so that their priorities would be met. "We would demonstrate our ability to make it work and sustain delivery of water and sanitation," he said, and added that his ministry would collaborate with the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology to make decentralization practical.

Source: GNA