Bolgatanga, Sept.1, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Thursday called on Ghanaians to help create a clean and healthy nation through self-discipline in the disposal of waste in homes, communities and workplaces.
He reiterated the Government's determination to continue to provide the needed input for effective waste management, but observed that no amount of resources deployed to the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies could sufficiently solve the problems associated with waste management if Ghanaians were not ready to lead responsible and disciplined lives.
"We need to desist from the practice of indiscriminate disposal of waste into storm water drains, open spaces, waterways and the streets, as well as urinating in public places."
President Kufuor made the call in a speech read on his behalf by Mr Charles Binipong Bintin, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, at the launching of the Fourth National Sanitation Week at Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region.
The theme for the celebration is "Sanitation: Key to Good Health and National Development."
President Kufuor said while less than 40 per cent of urban residents in the country were covered by an efficient solid waste collection service, less than 30 per cent of them had access to an acceptable household toilet facility, and that the prevailing situation posed a serious threat to human health, the environment and the country's dwindling water resources.
President Kufuor said the current environmental sanitation situation in the country left much to be desired, and that it was in a bid to find answers to these problems that the Government instituted the National Sanitation Week celebration.
He said even though there were enough sanitation-related laws in the country's statute books to promote a clean and orderly society, those laws were not being enforced, and announced government's intention to equip the Environmental Health Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Assemblies to strictly enforce all sanitation-related bye-laws and bring offenders to book. President Kufuor said more than 60 per cent of diseases reported at the Out-Patient Departments of health institutions in the country were directly linked to poor environmental sanitation.
He therefore, urged chiefs to mobilise people in their communities to undertake regular clean-up exercises to complement the efforts of Local Authorities to keep the environment clean.
Mr. Ahmed Awudu Yirimea, Deputy Upper East Regional Minister, said sanitation problems were too much to be left for only the assemblies to handle and called on Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) interested in the health of the people to help improve sanitary conditions in communities where they operate.
He asked the Assemblies to enforce sanitation bye-laws and ensure that the people abide by them.
Mr. Isaac Nsoh Amoah, Bolgatanga Municipal Chief Executive, said the Environmental Health Unit of the assembly had embarked on public education exercise to sensitize the public on the need for cleanliness. He said they had also collaborated with the Food and Drugs Board to organise workshops on hygiene for butchers and food vendors to improve on the in-sanitary conditions under which they operate. Tamale Metropolitan Assembly was adjudged the best clean assembly in the Metropolitan category, Obuasi Municipal Assembly took the first position followed by Tema Municipal Assembly in the Municipality category.
Ten District Assemblies adjudged the best for cleanliness had Wassa West taking the first position, followed by Nkoranza and Bulisa districts.
For their prizes, each assembly received sanitation equipment worth 30 million cedis.