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28.05.2008 Regional News

A WELCOME INITIATIVE

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The Accra Metropolitan assembly appears to be taking a very proactive step by tackling pragmatically the crucial issue of sanitation in the national capital, but we wonder if the way it is going about it is the best way to achieve good results.

A current AMA advertisement in the press reads in part:

ABOLITION OF PAN LATRINES IN THE METROPOLIS BY 2010

ACCRA METROPOLITAN ASSEMBLY

(URBAN ENVIRONMENTAL SANITATION)

The AMA has taken a decision to ban the use of pan latrines in the Accra Metropolis by the year 2010.

The AMA further wishes to bring to the notice of the general public that toilet construction facilities are available in the metropolis.

The facilities to be accessed are subsidies for:

1. The conversion of pan latrines into KVIPs and water closet.

2. Construction of water closet with built in overhead tanks.

3. 4,200 connections of PVC pipes from homes (Septic Tank) to the main sewer lines of the metropolis under the Accra Sewerage Project funded by African Development Bank.

The Assembly hopes to construct 1,500 toilet facilities (KVIP and WC) from the project fund. The project ends in 2010.

Pan latrine owners in the metropolis are especially advised to access the facility because failure to comply with the directive to convert the pan latrines to water closet or KVIP after 2010 would result in prosecution of the said owners by the Assembly.

The immediate questions that the advert generates are: What is it the AMA wants to tell the public? What is meant by 'toilet construction facilities are available in the metropolis'? Available free of charge? Furthermore, what is meant by 'facilities' and 'subsidies'?

The advert appears to be saying that the Assembly is prepared to assist house owners who need to construct toilets in their premises, with funding to do so.

If we are right in our understanding of the advert, it is one of the most important initiatives by the AMA.

There is another question prompted by the advert: are the 1,500 toilet facilities the AMA intends to build what it is inviting applications from the public for, or that is separate?

The problem of lack of toilets in premises has long plagued Accra, leading to insanitary conditions.

Apart from the environmental pollution of such practices, there is also the health aspect for city residents.

Environmental sanitation is an issue that developed countries take very seriously and it is also a matter of concern for the World Health Organisation. But, unfortunately, African governments have not been tackling it with the seriousness it deserves.

However, now, evidently that is changing, perhaps because of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, which includes ensuring environmental sustainability.

Notably, this year’s Africa Union Day, celebrated lat Sunday, May 25, had the theme 'Meeting the Millennium Development Goals on Water and Sanitation'. Thus the AMA’s toilets project becomes even more timely.

However, our problem with the AMA advert is that it is not clear what is being offered.

While we congratulate the AMA on this sanitation initiative, we urge the Assembly to deliver its message clearly to ensure that the target people get the message so that its very laudable objective can be achieved.

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