General News of Thursday, 29 October 2009
Tamale, Oct. 29, GNA - A 30-million dollar Northern Region Small Towns Water and Sanitation (NORST) Project, has been launched to improve the provision of water and sanitation facilities in 30 small towns in 13 districts of the eastern corridor of the Northern Region. The seven year project is being funded by the Canadian government through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and is expected to benefit over 125,000 people living in the selected communities. Mr. Michael Gort, Director of Development Cooperation of the Canadian High Commission in Ghana, announced this at the launch of the project in Tamale on Tuesday.
Mr. Gort explained that unlike previous projects, the majority of the budget and investment funds for the construction of the water and sanitation systems would not be managed by a Canadian executing agency or a separate implementation unit.
He said 15 million dollars of the NORST budget would be managed directly by the districts implementing the project. He further explained that, although a Canadian Advisory Agency (CAA) would provide the services of a Canadian specialist, it would contract and use local Ghanaian expertise and services to a very large extent. The focus of the CAA, he said, would be to help build the capacity of the districts themselves to design and deliver the water and sanitation services needed in the 30 towns.
Mr. Gort noted that CIDA had been involved in water and sanitation in Northern Ghana for over 30 years, and had invested more than 170 million dollars in 21 different projects since 1973.
He said the Agency had recently built 577 new water points and 35 new dug wells, and also rehabilitated 252 orphan boreholes.
Mr. Albert Abongo, Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, who launched the project, said the percentage coverage of rural water supply in the country stood at 57 percent, adding that, this was expected to increase to 60 percent by the end of the year, and then reach 75 percent in 2013. He said an estimated 70 percent of the deficiency in portable water supply in the country was located in the three Northern Regions. Mr. Abongo noted that poor sanitation and hygiene had resulted in the outbreak of diseases, especially diarrhoea, which was a major cause of death among young people, saying it was therefore government's policy to provide congenial conditions for the youth to grow into healthy citizens. "The situation where some people have no access to portable water and are therefore exposed to poor sanitary facilities is completely unacceptable," Mr. Abongo said.
Mr. Stephen Sumani Nayina, Northern Regional Minister reminded the beneficiary communities of the NORST Project, that the water systems to be constructed were their property and they should have collective responsibility for their sustenance.