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Opinions of Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Columnist: Amo, Kwasi

Re: National Sanitation Day ends with low participation, poor publicity concerns

I have read several news (e.g. http://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2014/December-6th/national-sanitation-day-ends-with-low-participation-poor-publicity-concerns.php) reports about the public’s show of apathy towards the 5th December edition of the National Sanitation Day exercise. Was I surprised? Emphatic no!

I see the whole venture as one of the most useless initiatives of our generation. I say this not because of any political mischief but the whole concept is borne of out laziness of our leadership in thinking to fix a problem, which demands common sense, and not political propaganda.

I was wondering why anybody in the 21st century will think that declaring one day in a month will help deal with the insanitary environmental conditions we have around. We’ve a government who takes taxes on almost everything that we consume and do in this country, only turn to tell us to do a job we’ve already paid them to do. I have said that I will never participate in the NSD on any day and anywhere, even if the President comes to clean my neighborhood. People are not simply dirty – it’s because they have nowhere to dispose their waste. Put thrash bins at vantage points and see whether they’ll not comply with proper disposal practices. You can then punish those who deliberately refuse to do the right thing! Was the president not ashamed to participate in the NSD at a place there was no proper mechanism for proper waste disposal? Why would I waste my time to participate in a cleanup exercise only for people to dump/dispose waste at the same places I have cleaned? Not even in my deepest hallucination!

Several countries have been able to achieve clean communities through the common sense approach and not through political propaganda. Fix containers for waste disposal and punish those who refuse to use. In Britain for instance, the 1848 Public Health Act came along with a useful concept known as Sanitary Policing. It worked so well and by the entry of the 19th century, they had fixed the sanitary challenges, which accompanied the industrial revolution. If these simple things cannot be done, why would you waste everybody’s time with NSD? It is a complete waste of time and attention.

A twin brother of sanitation is water. Have the brains behind the NSD thought about the water crisis a greater proportion of our people face? In the last census (2010), less than half (46.5%) of Ghanaians have access to pipe-borne water. I’m highly certain that just about 5% of these will get daily access to such an important component of sanitation. In fact, in Cape Coast where I live, I have had water running through my taps only twice in the last two almost three months. How can you achieve adequate sanitation without fixing its ‘compatriot’?

Please, if you cannot fix the problems we face with our taxes, don’t waste our time with these inept initiatives. We’re tired of these piece-meal interventions!

Kwasi Amo, Cape Coast

Kwasi_amo@yahoo.com