Dealing with Environmental Sanitation challenges in Ghana has been given a major boost following the launch of the newly created Environmental Sanitation Research Fund (ESRF) with initial funding of GHC5 Million cedis.
This initiative was unveiled in Accra on Friday 30th April by the Jospong Group of Companies in partnership with Africa Environmental Sanitation Consult (AfESC), Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), Ministry of Education, and Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources.
The launch also attracted representatives from various universities and other stakeholders in the waste management industry.
The event was also graced by the Mayor of Accra, Hon. Nii Adjei Sowah as well as some Accra chiefs and traditional authorities.
The ESRF is a grant that can be accessed by Ghanaian universities in the country to help finance practical and sustainable research in the Environmental Sanitation space.
The ESRF is meant to provide exclusive funding and implementation opportunities for practical and sustainable environmental sanitation research solutions by public universities in Ghana.
The historic launch was performed by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Health and Allied Sciences, Professor John Owusu Gyapong.
Attaining the sustainable development goals (SDGs) as defined by the United Nations in Agenda 2030 requires renewed translational research efforts, especially in the improvement of environmental sanitation.
It is in this direction that this project is expected to bring novelty into the research work, which will in turn create employment opportunities.
In his official address, the Executive Chairman of the Jospong Group of Companies Mr. Joseph Siaw Agyepong explained the rationale behind the fund.
He said the Jospong Group has over the years prioritised research at the core of doing business and as such have been partnering with Ghanaian universities to implement programmes and projects that would improve environmental sanitation.
"The Jospong Environmental Sanitation Research Fund is aimed at supporting Ghana's public universities to develop 'home-grown' research-driven solutions to address the myriad of challenges impeding the effective management of waste in the country."
He added that "All public universities are eligible to apply for funding to undertake quality research on wide-ranging sanitation issues such as incineration for energy recovery (Waste to Energy), leachate management and treatment, improvement in the quality of compost and waste collection, waste treatment dynamics and its economics, among others."
Mr. Agyepong expressed the optimism that the initiative would contribute to bridging the gap between academia and industry, and help develop sustainable interventions in the waste management sector.
“Nobody can solve the problems of Ghana more than us. Indeed, COVID-19 has indicated to us that we need to develop home-grown solutions to solve our problems. We are delighted about the fund and we pray that it would be useful and impactful," Dr. Agyepong stated.
On her part, the Vice-Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Professor Rita Akosua Dickson, commended the Jospong Group for the initiative.
She further admonished all public universities to take advantage of the opportunities that the fund will give to educational institutions.
"For us as training and research institutions, it is our mandate to proffer solutions through research to ensure that the quality of lives of the society we serve is enriched. Partnership is key on this journey and we are happy about this opportunity," she said.
The Director of Research at the Presidency, Dr. Isaac Owusu-Mensah, on his part, underscored the critical role research plays in the development of any country.
He, however, bemoaned the lack of funding for research particularly in Ghana where most research studies are financed by international organisations and donor agencies.
"I must assure all stakeholders gathered here that the research office under the presidency is in full support of this Environmental Sanitation Research Fund and we believe it will go a long way to come out with solutions to tackle our sanitation challenges," he expressed.