Stakeholders in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector have called on the government to establish a sanitation authority as a matter of urgency.
They said the authority would ensure proper implementation of policies and interventions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 of the United Nations.
They further called for the sanitation and pollution levy to be transformed into a fund and managed under the sanitation authority to ensure the sustainable funding of WASH sector projects.
The National Coordinator of the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area Sanitation and Water Project (GAMA-SWP), George Asiedu, and the Executive Secretary of the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), Basilia Nanbigne, made the call in an interview with the Daily Graphic.
Mr Asiedu said the sanitation authority would serve as a regulator of the WASH sector and also fill the void between policy making and the delivery of sanitation services by the private sector.
“We must have an intermediary, which is the regulatory framework where a statutory body will be charged with the responsibility to monitor, control and evaluate the performance of the private sector," he said.
The sanitation engineer said it was unfortunate that currently there was no regulatory body coordinating the efforts of the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources and private sector players delivering sanitation services.
“We are told that the policy document for the establishment of the authority is at the Cabinet level at the moment. We urge the Cabinet to accelerate efforts towards the establishment of the sanitation authority to reinforce efforts by the government in the sanitation sector. We need the fund and the authority,” he stressed.
Mr Asiedu added that GAMA-SWP had been able to deliver over 44,000 household toilets within GAMA and the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area because of the key role the private sector played in terms of construction and logistics.
Touching on the sanitation fund, he said transforming the current sanitation and pollution levy into a fund was crucial, as it would provide sustainable funding for the delivery of services in the WASH sector.
“We welcomed the sanitation and pollution levy because we thought it was the prelude to the establishment of the national sanitation fund. Once the levy was introduced into the budget system, we thought that it was a step in the right direction, but we can expand it into a fund with the necessary structures put in place to generate enough and sustainable funds,” he added.
Mr Asiedu also called on the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources to expedite the process of developing a national WASH programme to accelerate efforts towards achieving SDG 6.
"I’m aware that the ministry is collaborating with the World Bank and other stakeholders to develop a national WASH programme. We must accelerate our efforts to get it on stream as soon as possible because we have a shorter time to achieve SDG 6. So the earlier we implement interventions, the better for us," he said.
Ms Nanbigne said the establishment of the sanitation authority was the surest way of building a robust WASH sector and ridding the country of filth.
"There is no time to waste on this matter; the sanitation authority needs to be set up as soon as possible. In fact, we needed it yesterday," she stressed.
Ms Nanbigne added that when the authority was established, it would boost funding for sanitation activities.
She also underscored the need for the revolving fund to be strengthened and made less cumbersome for people to borrow money to build toilet facilities.
She stressed the need for sanitation laws to be enforced from the local to the national level to ensure compliance among the public.