A 500,000-dollar project, aimed at supporting sustainable use and management of the Tano River basin on the Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire border, was launched in Accra yesterday.
Under the project, which will last for three years, about 20,000 people are expected to benefit from improved water supply, while another 8,000 will gain access to healthy sanitation facilities. A total of 1,000- hectares of land will be rehabilitated during the period.
It will be funded by USAID and the Coca Cola Company International each of which will provide 250,000 dollars. Known as Trans-boundary Community Water Management Development, it is being implemented by CARE International, an NGO.
The initiative, which started in November, 2007 will, among other things, include the construction of boreholes and latrines, build capacity of local communities on how to maintain them and educate school children on improved hygiene practices.
Speaking at the launch, the Deputy US Ambassador, Sue K.Brown, said the initiative is to bring considerable benefits to local people in the areas of watershed management, water supply, sanitation services and hygiene promotion.
Ms Brown said it has so far 'made important advances on both sides of the border, including the completion of community water action plans, formation and training of water and sanitation committees.'
She said that additional bio-diversity conservation and sustainable forest management interventions would be put in place at the basin, as part of a 14-million-dollar plus Water and Development Alliance, a public-private partnership.
Under that, she said that support would be provided to improve the ability of local government structures and civil society to manage natural resources, restore degraded landscapes, and develop small agro-based industries to provide safety nets and other things.
The ambassador noted that the initiative would as well create a platform for the two countries to break the language barrier and come together to find common ground.
The Chairman and Chief Executive of Coca Cola International, Mr Neville Isdell, said the project gives the local people the opportunity to make a meaningful change in the community they live.
He said that it is vital that they maintain precious natural resources of Africa, adding his company’s involvement was borne out of the fact that water forms an integral part of their business and also a key factor in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Alhaji Abubakar Saddique Boniface, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, said that water is the greatest common resource available to society, hence the need for the government to consistently be concerned about problems related to water.
He said the drive, is to promote a new water culture with emphasis on access to safer water as basic need and ensure conservation practices to prevent its misuse, over-exploitation and pollution.
He urged the beneficiary communities to take full advantage of the project to ensure that the tasks it has set out are achieved, and pledged his ministry’s support to the project.
Mr Isdell later paid a courtesy call on President Kufuor at the Castle and briefed him on the project.
He also commended President Kufuor for his leadership of the country which he said has helped to make Ghana a shining star in Africa.
President Kufuor, on his part also commended the company for its sense of social responsibility and thanked Mr Isdell for appreciating the efforts and achievements of the government.