‘Effective sanitation management requires comprehensive data’

For Ghana to effectively manage and resolve its sanitation challenges, there is need for a comprehensive sanitation data system, says Casely Ato Coleman, a research fellow at policy think-tank, IMANI Africa.

“There is need for urgent government support in the area of data generation for the sector,” said Mr. Coleman, who served as the keynote speaker at IMANI Africa’s lecture and national discourse on Ghana’s sanitation strategy in Accra.

Speaking on the theme ‘Ghana’s sanitation strategy has failed. Why, and How do we Get it Right?’, he noted that all statistics have shown Ghana is not performing in the sanitation sector; however, the international statistics had been premised on open defecation “which doesn’t constitute the entire sanitation sector in the country”.

The lecture – held with an intention of seeking answers to research questions like “Should solutions to sanitation problems be public or private sector delivered? Should it be public or private sector funded? What is the way forward in cleaning the filth in Accra?” – saw Joseph Siaw Agyepong, Executive Chairman of the Jospong Group who is also president of the Environmental Services Providers Association (ESPA); Minister of Sanitation, Kofi Adda; the Chief Executive Officer of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Mohammed Adjei Sowah; and Journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni as discussants.

Having acquired knowledge and expertise for over twelve years in the industry, Mr. Agyepong reiterated his company’s readiness and commitment to take on the challenge of making Accra the cleanest city in Africa, a major goal for the Akufo-Addo-led administration, by intensifying its waste collection efforts and distributing free waste-bins.

He further stated that with the company’s experience, acquired over the years in sanitation, and with strong institutions and commitment from government, Accra’s sanitation issues will be a thing of the past.

He reiterated Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s notion that Ghanaians are capable of handling their own affairs, and also made a statement that with strong institutions Ghana would be a resource centre to other countries.

Mr. Adda, the sector minister, on his part urged citizens to stop indiscriminate littering and also consider every day as a Sanitation Day – while mentioning several interventions and plans they have put in place to solve the menace of poor sanitation.

Mr. Sowah, the AMA’s boss, said the Assembly is intensifying the Polluter Pay System, which will ensure that people pay for the waste they generate and also ensure effective distribution of the bins to every home in every corner of the country.

The forum, according to IMANI’s founding president, Franklin Cudjoe, is the first of its kind in championing the campaign of cleaning the cities and the entire country. He was emphatic that sanitation should be treated as a human rights issue, and private sector players like the Zoomlion Company Limited should be involved.

Several of the discussants commended Zoomlion and the Jospong Group for their technological advancement in solving the challenges of sanitation. Others highlighted the need for government to provide its unflinching support for Zoomlion and other waste management companies.