The CEO of Global Media Foundation (GLOMEF), human rights and anti-corruption media advocacy organization, Raphael Godlove Ahenu Jr. has noted with concern that looking at the current rate of progress many countries will not reach the 2015 Millennium Development Goal sanitation target until 2026 or even beyond especially in developing countries.
Speaking in an interview in Sunyani Mr. Ahenu Jr. drew attention of world leaders who will be attending High-level Meeting on Sanitation and Water for All that poor hygiene and lack of access to sanitation together, contributes to 88 percent of all deaths from diarrhoeal disease, with children paying the highest price.
According to him, it is estimated that over two point six billion people or nearly half of humanity allover the world lives without access to adequate sanitation facility, adding that only 13 percent of the total population in Ghana have access to sanitation.
This silent global crisis, he said constitutes an affront to human dignity on a massive scale causing widespread damage to human health and child survival prospects; social misery especially for women, depressed economic productivity and human development. The CEO said one of the single biggest challenges facing the world today is lack of sanitation, saying the frequent outbreak of cholera in the Great Accra region particularly in Accra is as a result of poor sanitation.
Generating momentum behind global sanitary transformation, Mr. Ahenu Jr. noted will lead to better health especially for children, who are the key to our common future, as well as social and economic development, personal dignity and the protection of the environment, all of which contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty.
The human rights campaigner who in 2009 won a British award for his water and sanitation campaign said without sanitation facilities to safely contain and dispose of human faeces, which are the primary source of diarrhoeal pathogens, the health of a community, especially children who are most vulnerable to disease, is put at risk.
He estimated that globally more than 200 million tones of human waste and untold millions of tones of waste water are discharged, uncontained and untreated, into watercourses every year. He said MDG 7, target 7c which aim at reducing by half the proportion of sanitation is central to meeting all the MDGs, yet is one towards which very little progress has been made.
The CEO of GLOMEF said despite significant efforts to raise awareness and shift political will, progress on sanitation has been slow and uneven. Ahenu Jr. lamented that in many countries, sanitation and hygiene have not been given the priority they deserve with funding and policies to match, although the costs of inaction are astonishing.
Faced with competing social demands, bigger vote-winning issues and ingrained belief that sanitation is a private concern of the family, he said many governments push it to the bottom of their political agenda. He added that “often, sanitation is a political “orphan” with no minister bearing full responsibility for its oversight.