Stakeholder institutions in the management of water, sanitation and environmental sustainability have expressed displeasure with the government’s over-reliance on the security services as its truimph-card to remedy the menace of illegal miners.
Describing the move as inappropriate and unyielding, the institutions indicated that the fight against the raging environmental devastation, particularly illegal mining, did not only threaten national security but had dire ramifications on the ecosystem.
The institutions include; Department of Water and Sanitation Agency and African Centre for Excellence in Coastal Resilience at the University of Cape Coast, Community Water and Sanitation Agency, Ghana Water Company Limited and Environmental Protection Agency.
The concerns were contained in a joint communiqué issued in Cape Coast after a stakeholder’s forum on environment sustainability as part of activities marking the World Water Day.
The celebration, locally held on the theme: “Accelerating change through partnership, co-operation, research, and capacity building”, brought together scores of environmentalists, academia, and students drawn from the various Senior and Junior High schools across the Cape Coast Metropolis.
Celebrated globally on the theme: “Accelerating Change”, the Day observed on March 22, every year since 1992, focuses on the importance of freshwater and its sustainable management.
Besides, it is also used to raise awareness of the plight of 2.2 billion people who are living without access to safe water sources globally, as global water demand is likely to rise by over 50 per cent by 2040.
Going forward, the institutions called for a renewed partnership and co-operation to remedy the situation, adding that: “Unfortunately, all efforts by different governments and relevant stakeholders, including the current operation vanguard, have failed because of the seemingly wrong approach being employed to address the issue.”
To them, empirical evidence strongly suggested that the problem was behavioural and as such, must be tackled in that respect.
It suggested that university dons, psychologists, and educationists should be the captains in the fight against illegal mining.”
The communique said at least, every university graduate, should be part of the cohort of agents desirous of helping stop illegal mining and, by extension, protection of water bodies.
Taking cognizance of the ban on illegal mining and other strategies aimed at improving and protecting the country’s water resources, the stakeholders also called for the implementation of the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) system.
However, it said the approach aimed at solving the challenges such as water pollution and water security had been saddled with a lack of logistics, personnel, coordination, and integration of systems and structures.
It, therefore, reiterated the need for all stakeholders, especially chiefs, to be represented and be part of decision-making from the onset of plans to the implementation while new partnerships and co-operations with education institutions, particularly at the Senior and Junior High school levels be formed.
Also, the institutions emphasized the fact that preserving and protecting water for food security must be embraced as a collective responsibility because it defined the very existence of Ghanaians .
“We cannot have water that would not help us feed ourselves as a nation.”
For sustainable flood management, the stakeholders urged all relevant bodies to ensure that people were not allowed to build in flood-prone areas.
It said, although it was not possible to have hilly areas in all cities for building and construction, it recommended that with good partnership and cooperation, flood-resilient structures could be built to prevent or reduce the inundation of homes by floods.
Towards sustainable means of finance, they advocated an urgent need to increase national budget allocation to the Water Sanitation and Health (WASH) sector at the expense of health in the medium to long term.
According to them, “if the WASH issues are properly dealt with, for example, most of our hospitals particularly in rural areas may be turned into event centers.”
The stakeholders proposed sustainable management of wetlands, adding that: “wetlands that do not only serve as sinks for most contaminants are under serious threat. Most wetlands are receiving waste that is far above their capacity and ability.
“Urban developments are taking over wetlands. This has a serious threat to groundwater recharge. If care is not taken, we will not be able to treat the surface water and abstract groundwater resources.
Other issues discussed were; proper disposal of biogas as a sustainable sanitation system through option of grey-water reuse as a strategy for sustainable wastewater management, recycling grey-water, addressing barriers to toilet usage as a strategy to curb open defecation and pathway for solid waste modernization and sustainability in Ghana.