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A group of six HSBC Malta volunteers will soon be visiting projects in Ghana where WaterAid, as part of the HSBC Water Programme, is working to improve access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. As an international non-government organisation (NGO), WaterAid works with some of the poorest communities around the world to provide long-term water and sanitation solutions.

During the weeklong visit, scheduled for November 2013, the HSBC team will travel to districts in the Northern and Upper Eastern regions of Ghana. The group will be visiting established WaterAid projects to see the difference safe water, sanitation and hygiene have already made to individuals, communities and local economies. As part of its work, WaterAid aims to reach 120,000 people with safe water and 80,000 people with sanitation in Ghana.

WaterAid Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation, has launched a Water Resource Management and Citizen Engagement (WRM/CE) learning group at the close of a week’s workshop in Bolgatanga. The focus of the WRM/CE is to encourage the sharing of knowledge and experiences generated by various organisations and share common challenges related to citizen’s engagement, accountability and participation in water resource management.

The workshop, a collaboration of WaterAid West Regional Learning Centres on water resource management, sought to equip members of the learning group with current tools, methods, techniques and framework for citizen engagement. It was also to strengthen their capacity to facilitate right-holders and duty-bearers dialogue for better Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) service delivery.

Open defecation may be a thing of the past in communities across the Akatsi-North District of the Volta Region by 2014, according targets of a project set in motion by the Assembly. Under the project dubbed, “Community-Led Total Sanitation – CLTS”, skilled personnel are to be dispatched into communities to assist in improving on general sanitation, stressing on the ills of open defection.

Mr James Gunu, District Chief Executive (DCE) speaking at a training session for 35 Sanitation Guards recruited towards implementation of the project, said poor sanitation, including open defecation, poor food and personal hygiene needed to be taken seriously in view of their consequences on life of the people.

The first-ever Africa Institute of Sanitation and Waste Management was launched in Accra yesterday to serve as an education and training resource for sanitation and environmental management experts. The institute, known as Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology-Africa Institute of Sanitation and Waste Management (K-AISWAM), is a collaboration between the KNUST and Zoomlion Ghana Limited.

It would concentrate its efforts in the areas of research and development; provide public/private consultancy services as well as tertiary education. Mrs Cecilia Johnson, Chairman of Council of State, who launched the institute, said it was heart-warming that a national need had once again been identified by the leadership of Zoomlion Ghana Limited to address the critical knowledge and capacity need of the waste management sector of Ghana’s economy.

Hanan Gundadow Abdul-Rahman, Mayor of Tamale.

The new Mayor of Tamale, Mr Hanan Gundadow Abdul-Rahman, has called for a concerted effort by all stakeholders to help improve sanitation facilities in the country. Since his election as Metropolitan Chief Executive of Tamale in late October, Abdul-Rahman has pledge to transform Tamale into a mega metropolis. He is seen by businesses and citizens alike as someone who is leading the city in a very different way and involves all stakeholders in the process.

Abdul-Rahman is championing measures to boost growth of investment in the city as well as promote efforts to improve sanitation in the metropolis. Having helped put Tamale on the world map by his predecessor, AL haji Haruna Friday, Abdul-Rahman said improvement to sanitation in the metropolis and the country at large would be his main priority as Mayor. The new mayor of Tamale, seen as one of the rising stars in Ghanaian politics, said his aim is to help draw attention to citizens who live without access to a toilet at home and stated that, “sanitation forms an integral part of government’s public health development agenda and said, “ as Ghana aims to join high income countries within the next decade, improved sanitation would contribute immensely to the health and well-being of the poor and rural folks who have no access to proper sanitation”. Abdul-Rahman called for the reintroduction of Town Council Health Inspectors of old CPP administration and said those simple interventions by the inspectors during the first republic help reduce the risk of contracting disease.

While many parts of the world take stock of their achievements in sustainable environmental practices, Ghana is still grappling with basic environmental challenges such as drains, sewage systems and solid waste which put a stranglehold on the country, despite the fantastic programmes that are designed every year to mark the World Environment Day (WED).

The WED is observed every year on June 5, to promote awareness on the importance of preserving global biodiversity and the need to identify problems related to the environment. WED ties in nicely with UN's Millennium Development Goals of ensuring environmental sustainability by halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. The target for Ghana and all other developing countries is 2015, but from indications of the dire environmental situation in the country, pundits doubt Ghana can attain the target.

Ghana is far from achieving the Millennium Development Goal 7 (MDG7) on environmental sanitation by the 2015 deadline. The MDG target enjoins countries to achieve a 57 per cent coverage of that goal by the deadline but Ghana currently has achieved only 13 per cent of that figure which puts the country in a difficult position to meet the target. This was made known in Accra yesterday when stakeholders in the water and sanitation sector met to brainstorm on how to help improve the sanitation situation in the country. A non-governmental organisation, Water and Sanitation for Africa (WSA) organised the workshop on the theme, “Modelling Sanitation Learning Agenda for Evidence-based Bridging of the Policy Practice Gap in Ghana.”

The United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/47/193 of 22 December 1992 by which 22 March of each year was declared World Day for Water, to be observed starting in 1993, in conformity with the recommendations of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) contained in Chapter 18 (Fresh Water Resources) of Agenda 21. States were invited to devote the Day, as appropriate in the national context, to concrete activities such as the promotion of public awareness through the publication and diffusion of documentaries and the organization of conferences, round tables, seminars and expositions related to the conservation and development of water resources and the implementation of the recommendations of Agenda 21.

World Water Day 2013 will be celebrated under the theme Water Cooperation, within the framwork of the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation 2013, coordinated by UNESCO on behalf of UN Water.

Ghana is likely to miss the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on sanitation if stringent actions are not taken and commitments made to meet the sanitation target by 2015.

An Environmental Journalist, Ama Kudom Agyemeng, has blamed the country's engineers for the sanitation problems. She said they could have designed proper drainage systems and safer building plans to avoid sanitation related problems.