General News of Monday, 16 February 2004

Source: GNA

Ghana needs $1.6 bn for urban water supply -Aliu

Accra, Feb. 16, GNA - Vice President Aliu Mahama, on Monday, said the Government would not be able to meet the 1.6 billion dollars required to fully provide water to urban communities by 2018, unless it entered into partnership with other stakeholders.

He said: "The time has come for nations to realise that investments in water and sanitation are enormous. In Ghana for the urban sector alone, about 1.6 billion dollars is needed at an annual inflow of about 100 million dollars... Certainly, Government alone cannot provide such funding."

Vice President Mahama said these when he opened the 12th Congress of the Union of African Water Suppliers (UAWS), in Accra. It is under the theme: "Partnership for Sustainable Access to Drinking Water and Sanitation."

More than 500 delegates, comprising water experts, financiers, policy makers and companies involved in water supply and sanitation equipment are attending the four-day event.

Vice President Mahama noted that the situation in Ghana, where a significant portion of the population lacked access to safe drinking water and sanitation was similar to that of other African countries. "The sanitation situation is even worse," adding, "Statistics indicate that less than 50 per cent of rural households have access to adequate toilet facilities."

He, therefore, called for partnerships among Governments, such as the Lome-Sogakope Water Project, between Ghana and Togo that has been initiated to share water resources.

Vice President Mahama said it was crucial for Governments to seek financial, technical and managerial resources from the private sector to complement their efforts in meeting the target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The MDGs seek to halve the population of people without potable water by 2015.

The Vice President, however, cautioned that appropriate partnerships must be developed in the interest of the customer, a key stakeholder in the sector.

He, consequently, challenged the delegates to devise pragmatic means of dealing with the issues in line with the NEPAD vision of making partnership to achieve sustainable development.

The delegates would consider issues such as institutional reforms; human resource management; tariff and operational cost; customer management and financial development and reforms.

Works and Housing Minister Alhaji Mustapha Idris, stressed the need to protect water resources to meet rising demands associated with population growth.

Alhaji Idris said education must be strengthened to encourage people, particularly those residing near water basins to protect them and guard against conflicts over ownership.

He said forming partnerships was key to water delivery as had been proved from the experiences of the Community and Water and Sanitation Agency, where partnerships between Government and development agencies had proved fruitful for rural areas.

Mr Abdelaziz Mabrouk, Chairman of UWAS, said it was unacceptable that five million people die each year from water-borne diseases with more than half of Africa's population lacking access to potable water, while two-thirds do not have toilet facilities.

He stressed UAWS' commitment to help improve the situation. Before the end of the function, however, Mr Mabrouk performed a ceremony that changed the name of the Union to Africa Water Association. The Association has membership of 106 utilities in 33 African countries and 66 affiliated international organisation across the globe. About 50 international and local water-related bodies are exhibiting their products at the conference.