Editorial : COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the importance of hygiene and sanitation

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The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the critical importance of sanitation, hygiene and adequate access to clean water for preventing and containing diseases. Hand hygiene saves lives.

According to the United Nations, 6 in 10 people lack access to safely managed sanitation facilities. Each day, nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrheal diseases.

Cecilia Abena Dapaah, Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, told the press at a briefing organised by the Information Ministry this week that her ministry has deployed 5,100 litter bins to control public littering in selected Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) of the Ashanti, Central, Greater Accra, Northern, Oti, Volta and Western Regions as part of its a Street Litter Bin programme.

Now there is no excuse for citizens to dispose of their litter generated while on the streets properly in a litter bin. As the population grows and our urban areas begin to get choked, the problem of waste disposal has proved to be an escalating problem for city authorities; with landfill sites becoming increasingly scarce.

The inability to dispose of our waste properly accounts largely for the perennial flooding that accompanies each rainy season, since our open gutters become choked and result in disasters and mayhem.

It is all well and good that the Ministry of Sanitation is deploying these litter bins at vantage points for the citizenry to take advantage of. They must be easily visible, and we urge MMDAs to assign people to monitor and apprehend all those who indiscriminately dispose of litter in unapproved places.

Although the provision of these litter bins might not seem like a big deal, since they ought to have been in place a long time ago, the fact that a conscious effort is being made to deploy them is something worth commenting on.

President Akufo-Addo once said he intends to make Accra the cleanest city in Africa, hence his instituting a ministry dedicated to sanitation. We believe that vision can only be achieved when the citizenry is responsible and conscientious. With disposal facilities now available at public places, they have no reason to litter and behave unpatriotically.

Waste disposal companies must also come on board and regularly collect refuse and dispose of it properly. This way, the people’s health is assured and diseases like cholera and dysentery will have no place in our lives, particularly for the vulnerable young ones.

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