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A three-million dollar initiative, Result Based Financing for Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene project seeking to improve WASH coverage in four districts of the Northern Region, has been launched in Banvim in Tamale. A total of 112,500 from 75 communities in the West and East Gonja, Tamale Metro and Saboba as well as 4000 school children are to benefit from the three-year project, which is being financed by the government of Japan through its Social Development Fund.

The project, which aims to improve the current regional WASH coverage of about nine percent, has components that includes community led total sanitation, school led total sanitation and village savings and the set up loans enterprises. Speaking at Banvim, a community in the Tamale South Sub-metro,  Mr Akwasi Oppong-Fosu, the Minister of  Local government and Rural Development, said the implementation of the initiative would adopt a bottom-up approach and focus on behavioral change communication.

He said statistics showed that poor sanitation accounted for about 70 percent out-patient attendance in health institutions and accounted for 25 per cent death of children under five. Mr Oppong-Fosu expressed government’s commitment and support to ensuring the successful implementation of the project through effective Monitoring and Evaluation as well as knowledge dissemination.

Mr Bede Ziedeng, the Northern Regional Minister, said sanitation remained one of the nation’s greatest challenges and expressed fears that targets on the Millennium Development Goals on sanitation could not be achieved if stringent measures were not put in place. “Indeed it is  unfortunate that Ghana lies at the second to bottom only before Mali in open defecation in West Africa and that it is feared that over 18 million Ghanaians will not have access to improved sanitation by 2015”, he said.

He said as part of the Northern Regional Coordinating Council’s (NRCC) commitment towards improving WASH in the Region, it would soon review its pledge made by the assemblies to determine the level of compliance and take appropriate actions to surcharge those that failed. He called for an attitudinal change towards sanitation and hygiene in the region adding that, “Traditional and opinion leaders must help in education on sanitation and hygiene practice.”

Mr Shigeru Hamano, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Japan Embassy, said the rationale behind the support by the government of Japan was the love and support the international community showed to Japan during its trying times some years ago. He expressed the hope that Ghana would be able to address its challenges and develop with the abundant resources available to be able to extend support to other countries.

Mr Keit Amagion, Country Director of SNV, explained that the project would be output driven where resources would only follow the work on the ground, thus a paradigm shift from the traditional implementation of projects. He said the innovation would re-align incentives in sanitation markets at local level and that rewarding performance would foster more cost-efficient service delivery and better pro-poor targeting, which would provide value for money.

Mr Waqar Haider, Acting Country Manger and Sector Leader, World Bank, said good sanitation and hygiene were fundamental to improved quality of life and a key prerequisite for human and economic development and that what was at stake was how best the WASH challenge would be tackled. He said challenges in the WASH sector did not call for more resources but more management and innovations to ensure sustainability of the intervention.

Source: GNA