Elmina, Sept. 26, GNA - Mr Arthur Swatson, World Bank 'Task Team Leader for Small Towns Water and Sanitation Project' on Monday said decentralising delivery of water supply to district assemblies and the implementation of much needed reforms, among others, were key to improving delivery of water and sanitation services in the country. According to him, major challenges still remained 10 years after the implementation of the National Community Water and Sanitation Program (NCWSP), which was geared towards an effective and sustained use and improvement of such services in small towns and rural communities. Mr Swatson made this observation at the launch of the World Bank sponsored 'Small Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Project', for the Central Region, at Elmina. It is being implemented in five other regions at a total cost of 31 million dollars or 280 billion cedis. He said for instance, one out of every two people living in the rural areas lacked access to safe drinking water and a higher percentage also lacked access to sanitation, while the eradication of guinea worm remained a challenge, compounded by a high incidence of diarrhoea related diseases.
He said the World Bank 'Country Assistance Strategy' was therefore a direct response in support of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) to enable the government to achieve its poverty reduction objectives.
Mr Swatson said it was in accordance with this, that it had provided a number of water and sanitation projects totalling 140 million dollars to assist the government to achieve its water sector objectives including its commitment to the Millennium Development Goals of reducing the number of people without such services by half, by 2015. He noted that the inclusion of the Central Region was evidenced of the Bank's commitment to support the GPRS, which identified the Region as lacking water investments and needed assistance in addressing rural water needs.
The project will within the next four years, provide a total of 500,000 and 50, 000 people respectively with access to water and sanitation facilities in the six beneficiary regions.
He recognized the collaboration of both the EU and DANIDA in the project and said it would complement the overall effort to improve water and sanitation delivery in the Region.
The Regional Minister, Mr Isaac Edumadze, described the project of another beacon of hope for the people of the Region and said the presence of buruli ulcer and other water-borne related diseases were still "great challenges" with regard to rural water supply and sanitation.
He tasked all district assemblies in the Region to contribute their quota to ensure the success of the project and warned that any assembly found wanting in this aspect, would be sanctioned.
The Minister further tasked stakeholder in the private sector who would also play key roles in the project, to demonstrate a sense of diligence and professionalism in the discharge of their duties.
The Regional Director of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) also expressed concern that water supply and sanitation in the rural communities were still low, and said it was for this reason that all stakeholders in the sector needed to collaborate and harmonise their activities.