The first National Environmental Sanitation forum has been held as part of the Government of Ghana's '100 days' sanitation and Ghana Going Green (GGG) agenda in Accra yesterday.
The forum was on the theme, 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness...create in me a clean heart O God,' and was organised by the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology with sponsorship from the Environmental Service Providers Association (ESPA), Zoom Lion and the World Bank.
The aim of the forum was to give stakeholders and individuals the opportunity to share ideas and demonstrate their commitments to greening and improving waste management practices in the country.
The Vice-President, John Dramani Mahama, in a keynote address said sanitation is a critical issue that needs to be dealt with not only by the government but by stakeholder groups and individuals.
He observed that there is the need for the application of technology in the disposal of both liquid and solid waste in order to engender a reduction of the insanitary conditions in the country.
Mr Mahama indicated that a strong decision on the disposal of waste especially plastics needs to be urgently addressed. 'The time has come for us to take a decision on plastics and a ban on its use is not out of the question', he added.
He expressed the hope that the forum will provide a blueprint that will help solve sanitation problems in the country.
The Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, Ms Sherry Ayitey, also stated that the Government, through her Ministry, wishes to introduce an improved method of waste management in the country which will involve innovative and advanced technologies that will avoid the current practice of dumping of waste at designated sites.
The Minister noted that there are many challenging tasks ahead in addressing the current environmental sanitation problems in the cities and towns in the country. She therefore called for the need to change the present strategies of 'solve the problem as they come' and adopt 'a long term multi-pronged holistic planning approach.'
Ms Ayitey pledged her Ministry's support for any new environmental initiatives that will emerge from the forum adding that they are fully committed to working with all stakeholders and other partner organisation in that direction.
Mr P V Obeng, Head, Transition Team, who acted as the Chairman of the forum, on his part, said that Ghanaians are part of the problem of waste management because we generate the waste and therefore must be part of the solution since we cannot continue to live in insanitary conditions.
He said people who generate waste must see what their responsibilities are and what they can do to help manage it.
He called on all Ghanaians to share the common burden of ensuring the right disposal of waste so that together, Ghana will be made a habitable society.