Dr. Hafiz Bin Salih, the Upper West Regional Minister has indicated that despite the 76 percent water coverage in the region, access to sustainable drinking water is still a huge challenge in the region.
Dr Bin Salih stated in his welcome address at the 34th Mole Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) conference (MOLEXXXIV), which is currently ongoing in Jirapa, Upper West Region.
About 170 people, including policy makers, government officials, CSO, Members of Parliament (MPs), and Municipal and District Assemblies (MDAs), are attending the four-day MOLE XXXIV conference, which has as its theme "Building inclusive and resilient Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) systems to reach the unserved".
World Vision Ghana and the GAMA Sanitation and Water Project are sponsoring the Media Coalition Against Open Defecation (M-CODe) to attend the conference.
The Upper West Minister commended the organizers and their partners for their continuous support in helping to meet the water demand needs of the region and commended the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) as well.
Dr. Freda Prempeh, Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources explained that Ghana has made impressive strides in providing safe drinking water, but over 3.8 million people still lack access to it.
Dr. Prempeh emphasized that the nation was on track to meet Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) and that the government should address water quality issues seriously in order to maximize the benefits from the usage of water.
According to the Sanitation Minister, the "greatest enemy" to the nation's safe water distribution system is still unlawful mining. The 2018 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey found that eight out of ten residential water sources and five out of ten point sources were polluted with E. coli.
"As WASH stakeholders, we need to make our voices heard in the ongoing discussions aimed at stopping galamsey. It is costing our urban water utility company so much to treat water for human consumption", she stated.
Dr. Prempeh said it was time for everybody to be innovative and support the government in ensuring the provision of resilient and sustainable WASH infrastructure.
The provision of such infrastructure, the Minister and the Member of Parliament for Tano North Constituency said, remained essential not only for public health but also for sustainable development, environmental protection, and community resilience.
She said the Ministry would continue to have an open-door policy to welcome CONIWAS organizers of the MOLEXXXIV conference to discuss strategic policy issues that would impact and accelerate WASH service delivery in the country.
The Ministry is also committed to strengthening the enabling environment to attract additional private sector funding to reach the unserved and underserved with sustainable WASH services.
Among other objectives, the conference will also discuss how the implementation of resilient WASH systems will address access and equity and how current service delivery models will impact Ghana's pace towards achieving WASH for all.
Ms. Beata Awinpoka Akanyani, the Chairman of CONIWAS, explained that the conference has witnessed consistent growth of interest and importance since its inception in 1989 among civil society, policymakers, local governments, and development partners alike.
She explained that the Mole Conference was named after the Mole Game Reserve, near Damongo in the Savannah Region.
-CDA Consult || Contributor