Regional News of Thursday, 10 October 2013
A fundraising campaign aimed at mobilizing funds from the public to help salvage the deplorable sanitation situation in the country was on Wednesday launched in Accra.
Dubbed “Let’s Team up to Clean up”, the campaign is part of the Okyehene Sanitation Project, aimed at complementing government efforts in improving the sanitation situation by involving civil society, the business community and the public in funding solutions.
The fundraising campaign, to be held annually over the next five years and executed over a three-month period, would require the public to donate through the sending of Short Messaging Service (SMS) texts to a specific Short Code on all mobile telephone networks at a pegged tariff.
There would also be weekly draws to reward the highest ‘texter’ and a grand prize of a Kia Sorento 4 Wheel vehicle for the overall winner at the end of the three-month period.
Mr Akwesi Opong-Fosu, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), who launched the campaign, commended the Okyehene for his vision and leadership role in the promotion of sanitation, hygiene and clean communities for national development.
He said although Government had made significant progress on many fronts and taken bold steps to salvage the deplorable sanitation situation in the country, there remained several challenges that continually slowed down the pace of progress.
He said resource constraints was making it difficult for Government and District Assemblies to deal adequately with the problem of increasing waste generation and its accompanying environmental degradation.
Mr Oppong-Fosu said “without rigorous efforts to address the sanitation inadequacies and address the revenue gaps, the environmental and human health problems would be aggravated.”
Mr Opong-Fosu added that approaches for complementing Government’s solid waste management efforts was expected to involve the creation of avenues to secure the active participation of other stakeholders, and it was against this background that the Ministry found the Okyehene’s approach to expanding resource mobilization efforts from the public ground-breaking, timely and commendable.
He said the President had already endorsed the initiative and had requested all sanitation related agencies and departments to take steps to collaborate with the managers of the Project to ensure its success and sustainability.
Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin, Okyehene of the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional area, noted that the declining water and environmental sanitation in Ghana had resulted in major public health hazards that were retarding economic development.
He said Government had genuine limitations and capacity constraints to finding a sustainable solution to the water and sanitation problems, and as a result, the country’s problems could hardly be handled by the government alone.
“For these reasons and more, the solution to the country’s intractable water and sanitation problems required concerted efforts and commitments by civil society, business community and government,” he said.
"Our duty as individuals citizens and as corporations isn’t to simply wait for government to do everything for us, but to recognize government’s limitations and our own strengths, and pitch in to offer what we do best to help our fellow citizens,” the Okyenhene said.
He, however, called for a strong political will in the enforcement of existing bye-laws, regulation and policies and the active participation of all Ghanaians in the campaign to ensure its sustenance and success.
The Okyenhene said he was overwhelmed by the speed of response from Interplast Ghana and M&J Pharmaceutical Company, who presented cheques for GH¢15,000 and GH¢1,000.00 respectively, after appealing to companies to contribute towards efforts in making Ghana’s communities and public places better to live and conduct business.
He thanked the companies for the support and indicated that the donation would certainly help in the publicity campaign, aimed at motivating the general public to actively participate in the Sanitation Improvement Fundraising Campaign.
Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, Chairman of the Cleaner Community Network (CCN), in a briefing on the progress of the Okyehene Sanitation Project partnership building, explained that the “Operation Cleaner and Healthier Communities” (OCHC) Initiative, as a cause related sponsorship arrangement, presented Ghanaians with a unique opportunity to create a meaningful benefit for their society that could have a valuable impact on businesses such as tourism, industry and job creation.
He said it was now more important than ever that corporate leaders in Ghana made a stand and step forward, individually and collectively, to rally around values that unite them with other stakeholders throughout the country to fight a common cause.
Professor Akosa said the tonnes of waste that was generated by the population posed a major threat to both the health of humans and animals as well as the environment in which they resided.
He said the country spends about GH¢ 420 million annually on sanitation management and a huge budget on preventable diseases such as malaria, cholera, typhoid, worm infestations, diarrhoea and respiratory diseases among others, most of which could have been devoted to more productive purposes.
He said research has shown that more than 75 per cent of child mortality results from sanitation and hygiene related diseases and about 70 per cent of the overall national disease burden was related to poor sanitation and lack of hygiene.
“The most worrying aspect is that, currently the country has run-out of landfill sites for the proper disposal of waste”, he said.