Some participants at the Mole XXXII conference have urged the government of Ghana and its partners in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector to make planning an active part of their mandates to preempt future emergencies.
Speaking at the opening of the 2021 Mole Conference at Ejisu, near Kumasi Tuesday, Pierre Frank Laporte, the World Bank Country Director for Ghana said the government, Coalition of NGOs in Water and Hygiene (CONIWAS) and other stakeholders must take a cue from the COVID-19 outbreak to plan against future emergencies.
Laporte charged CONIWAS especially to play an active advocacy role to ensure that the WASH sector in Ghana was always prepared to deal with any emergencies that may arise.
The Woeld Bank official told other participants at the five-day conference that Ghana needed to build resilience by mainstreaming risk-based WASH sector planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation into all of its processes to be on the safer side.
He called for the development of early warning systems, which should be communicated to all citizens especially those living in areas prone to disasters.
“Safe havens, especially for those in flood prone areas, should be well demarcated and known to those most likely to be affected,” said Laporte.
He emphasised that WASH in emergency planning should be aimed at preventing the outbreak of public health emergencies due to water and sanitation related diseases.
“Safely managed WASH services are essential in preventing diseases and protecting health during infectious disease outbreaks, including COVID-19,” he added.
Since natural disasters disrupt water supply and sanitation facilities, Laporte underscored the need for resilient facilities and measures “to ensure that people have access to safe drinking water and sanitation srrvices.”
For this to be effective, the World Bank official called for the inclusion of budgeting for WASH and other related emergencies in the composite budgets of all local government authorities.
In her keynote address, the Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Cicilia Abena Dapaah, who was the Special Guest of Honour for the occasion, acknowledged the invaluable efforts being made by NGOs and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the WASH sector to push the country’s Sustainable Development Goals Six (SDGs 6) agenda.
Dapaah said she looked forward to a deepened relationship between her ministry and the other partners in the efforts to tackle the numerous challenges in the sector.
She cautioned that the role of WASH in emergencies should be underestimated, with the increasing incidence of floods and droughts experienced by the country in recent years.
One key lesson from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the WASH sector, the minister said is the need to prepare for emergency response to ensure equitable WASH service delivery.
“A well prepared emergency response means ensuring that systems, institutions and resources are available to enable the WASH sector to prepare and mitigate the effects of any unforeseen situation or future pandemic and other unexpected hazards, including the unknown impact of climate change,” said the minister.
She said emergency preparedness should, therefore, ensure that the WASH sector becomes more responsive to disasters and pandemics, as well as sustains the central role of WASH in human development,”
The theme of the 32nd Mole Conference is: “Repositioning the WASH Sector for Emergency Response and Sustainable Development.
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH/Inghananews.com