The Country Director for World Bank- Ghana, Mr. Pierre Frank Laporte has called the Ghana government, Coalition of NGOs in Water and Hygiene (CONIWAS), and other stakeholders in the WASH sector to actively include planning and budgeting for emergencies in all that they do.
Mr., Laporte also charged CONIWAS to play an active advocacy role to ensure the WASH sector in Ghana is ready and prepared to deal with any emergencies that will arise.
The Country Director for World Bank- Ghana’s call comes on the heels of the outbreak of the Coronavirus Pandemic which took the world by storm.
Addressing participants at the 32nd edition of the Annual Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Conference dubbed MOLE Conference Series organized by CONIWAS which is currently underway in the Ashanti Region, Mr., Laporte noted that for Ghana to be on the safer side, in its all programming, resilience should be built by ensuring risk-based WASH planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation are mainstreamed in all processes.
He cautioned that early warning systems should be developed and communicated to all citizens especially those living in areas that are prone to disasters. The safe havens, especially for those in flood-prone areas, should be well demarcated and known to those most likely to be affected.
According to him the theme chosen for this year’s Mole Conference Series “Repositioning the WASH Sector for Emergency Response and Sustainable Development” is very appropriate looking at the times we live in,
He emphasised that WASH in emergencies is aimed at preventing the outbreak of public health emergencies due to water and sanitation-related diseases. Safely managed water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services are essential in preventing disease and protecting health during infectious disease outbreaks, including COVID-19.
Mr. Laporte explained that the provision of WASH is very critical for the survival of both human beings and animals in the event of any emergency be it natural disasters like flooding or earthquakes or man-made disasters like fires or accidents.
“When it comes to natural disasters, there is usually a disruption in water supply services when treatment plants are affected or when the water transmission and distribution lines are broken or washed away.” He disclosed.
The Country Director for World Bank- Ghana, maintained when it comes to sanitation during such disasters, the receptacles for toilet facilities may get flooded and the fecal matter which is in the containment can be found in the floodwaters in the community when it gets flooded.
This situation, which occurs frequently all over the world, he said requires facilities resilient to such shocks so that services will not be interrupted. This is why there is the need to ensure that there are measures in place to ensure people have access to drinking water or there are measures in place to treat the available water before it is consumed.
To this, a concerted effort according to Mr. Laporte should be made to build the capacity of all relevant sector players to ensure they undertake risk-based WASH programming and take into consideration the poor and the vulnerable since the impact of emergencies affects them most.
He also calls for the provisional budgeting for WASH (and other related emergencies) in the budgeting by all Local Government Authorities.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Mrs. Cicilia Abena Dapaah who was the Special guest of honour for the occasion, acknowledge the invaluable support and contributions NGOs and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the WASH sector have been rendering to help achieve Sustainable Development Goals Six (SDGs 6) and said she looks forward to a deepened relationship in her ministry’s effort to solve the numerous challenges in the sector.
She emphasised that the role of wash in emergencies cannot be underestimated. Saying in recent years, Ghana has experienced the annual occurrence of floods and drought.
Mrs. Daapah noted that the recent trend in the micro-climate of the West Africa sub-region suggests that floods and drought will become more frequent and severe.
The Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources was of the view that the theme for Mole XXXII “Repositioning the WASH Sector for Emergency Response and Sustainable Development” is apt as it sets the agenda for the need to strengthen wash sector emergency preparedness to ensure the sector is ready to respond to whatever challenges that may arise in emergencies in future.
She disclosed that one key lesson of the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the wash sector is the need to prepare for an emergency response to ensure equitable wash service delivery.
“A well-prepared emergency response means ensuring that systems, institutions, and resources are available to enable the WASH sector to prepare and mitigate the effects of any unforeseen situation or future pandemic and other unexpected hazards, including the unknown impact of climate change. This will ensure that the WASH sector becomes more responsive to disasters and pandemics, as well as sustain the central role of WASH in human development,” Mr. Daapah reiterated.