BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE
Though these are not being trumpeted like other issues, some of Ghana’s leading political parties have made pledges in the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene services, should they be voted into power at Ghana’s general elections on December 7, 2012.
The pledges have not been made on campaign platforms such as issues of job creation and education, which have been hammered on by almost all eight presidential candidates in the race to become the next president of Ghana’s fourth republic.
They are however hidden in their manifestos, albeit some have given just little mention of the issues of water, sanitation and hygiene, although they are very essential to the existence of the very people they seek to rule.
Interestingly too, although the elections is just hours away, some of the major parties contesting in the 2012 edition, have not even made public their manifestos – that is – if they actually have them.
Only three of the contesting parties – the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Convention People’s Party (CPP) have manifestos that have been made public and which spell out the plans they have for the Ghanaian people, including plans for water, sanitation and hygiene.
The rest – People’s National Convention (PNC), Progressive People’s Party (PPP), United Front Party (UFP), Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) and the only independent candidate, Mr. Joseph Osei-Yeboah have not as much as made known to Ghanaians what they have to offer them by way of a documented manifesto, should they be voted into power.
However, having identified that Ghana’s potable water supply in both urban and rural areas is inadequate, the NPP pledges in its 115-page (59 PDF) 2012 manifesto titled “Transforming Lives, Transforming Ghana”: “We will implement a strengthened National Water Policy,
which will greatly improve supply, hygiene and sanitation. Our goal is to ensure that every Ghanaian has access to potable water. We will continue the programme of the Kufuor government, which undertook major water systems improvements nationwide including Cape Coast, Mankessim, Koforidua, Kumasi, Kwanyarku, Ada, Sogakope, the Accra East – West interconnection and Tamale,” adding, “The programme led to the completion of over 9,000 new boreholes and 500 new pipe water systems.”
Water and Sanitation
Specifically, the party promises in its six-chapter manifesto: “To improve further the supply of water, we will build more urban water systems, sink at least 5,000 more boreholes, and build 300 more small water systems.” With regards to sanitation, the New Patriotic Party pledges to use waste to generate electricity in Ghana and also encourage the use of biodegradable plastics. How much it will devote to that and how it plans to embark on that project is however not spelt out.
Touching on the environment, the party says “We will embark on an ambitious reforestation programme” to restore degraded forests, adding; “This will serve the multi-purpose of protecting the environment, creating immediate jobs for our youth and creating future wealth. We will employ the same concept to use waste to generate electricity in Ghana.”
For its part, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) party in its 2012 manifesto titled “Advancing the better Ghana agenda” first prides itself of its achievements in water, sanitation and hygiene before outlining further plans for the people of Ghana if their mandate is renewed.
The NDC lists its achievements as; the adoption of the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) strategy, which has started in the Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Central Regions as a response to poor attitudes and behaviours and the resultant waste management challenges; the procurement of 200 motorcycles, 5 pickups and computers for Environmental Health and Sanitation directorates for distribution to regional and district environmental health offices for effective facilitation of sanitation service delivery at the community level and the allocation of 700 assorted waste management equipment to all the MMDAs during the last four years.
In order to sustain water delivery, the party says it has been able to adopt a proposal for the establishment of a ‘Water Fund’ to insulate the poor and marginalised who cannot afford to pay for water; expanded the coverage level for rural and small towns water from 57% in 2008 to 63.34% in 2011 and also expanded the coverage level of urban water to 63.3% at the end of 2011.
“The NDC Government will make even more interventions in the next four years with the goal of attaining ‘Water for All’ by 2020,” the party promises.
This it hopes to do, by rolling out strategic measures to ensure the efficient management of water resources through the integration of water resources management and development with environmental management, to ensure sustainability of water resources in both quantity and quality, co-ordination of water resources planning with land use planning and reforestation programmes for all major river basins.
If given a second term, the NDC plans to promote climate change adaptation measures, promote re-use and re-cycling of water through the use of effective water treatment systems, establish schemes to support, encourage and promote rainwater harvesting; identify and assess ground water resources to enhance water availability.
To improve urban water coverage, the NDC Government promises to mobilise funds for the construction of new, and the rehabilitation and expansion of existing water treatment plants; encourage Public Private Partnerships in water services delivery; and establish a “Water Fund” to support the implementation of a pro-poor water pricing regime.
To enhance rural water supply, the party says in addition to the 20,000 boreholes to be drilled nation-wide, the NDC Government will: establish and operationalise mechanisms for water quality monitoring; and introduce ultraviolet water purification schemes in rural communities where the new approach will be cost-effective.
With respect to sanitation, the NDC says it will put the provision of sanitation facilities at the core of Government’s social policies and programmes over the next four years with key policy initiatives, including the establishment of a National Sanitation Authority (NSA) as an autonomous agency under the Local Government Service to coordinate a harmonised sanitation policy and programme, for implementation by the MMDAs and private sector operators.
The NDC also pledges to implement the “Sanitation for All Ghana Compact” and have it managed sustainably by the new National Sanitation Authority as a special body under the Local Government Service with independent sources of funding and a strong enforcement mandate on issues of sanitation and waste management.
Open defecation has become a scourge on the country Ghana and the NDC pledges to promote behavioural change for ensuring open-defecation free communities, acquire and develop land and sites for the treatment and disposal of solid waste in major towns and cities, provide modern toilet facilities in public basic schools, establish new and renovate old recycling plants, enforce bye-laws on sanitation by all MMDAs, particularly the prosecution of landlords who fail to provide toilet facilities in their homes and establish special courts to deal with persons or industries that do not comply with sanitation bye-laws – these however, already exist and it is not known if they will add to the already existing sanitation courts.
The Convention People’s Party (CPP) devotes few lines of its 13-page manifesto to the environment and even fewer lines to water, sanitation and hygiene.
The party states generally in chapter nine of its manifesto that touches on the environment, that it will monitor on regular basis all violations of regulations concerning the environment, particularly those pertaining to the production and dumping of chemical and industrial waste, the pollution of the air, water and the damage of land and shorelines through indiscriminate exploitation of resources and the uncontrolled disposal of waste.
Specifically, it mentions that it will “liaise with the Ministry of Health to educate the public on the disposal of human waste and the management of such waste as not to become a health hazard.”