WaterAid Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation, has launched a Water Resource Management and Citizen Engagement (WRM/CE) learning group at the close of a week’s workshop in Bolgatanga.
The focus of the WRM/CE is to encourage the sharing of knowledge and experiences generated by various organisations and share common challenges related to citizen’s engagement, accountability and participation in water resource management.
The workshop, a collaboration of WaterAid West Regional Learning Centres on water resource management, sought to equip members of the learning group with current tools, methods, techniques and framework for citizen engagement.
It was also to strengthen their capacity to facilitate right-holders and duty-bearers dialogue for better Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) service delivery.
Alhaji Sulemana Issah-Bello, Programme Manager of WaterAid in charge of the Northern Sector, said the West African Region was characterized by factors comprising the dwindling, weak mobilization, low citizenship participation, accountability and unequal distribution of existing water resources.
He said many experiences had been tried out through researches, programmes and projects in various African countries including scientific and experimental action research, workshops, documentaries and citizen-government engagements in WASH service delivery.
WaterAid, he said, believed that sustainable access to safe water required synergies in managing information through regular experience sharing.
“The major challenge faced by the WASH sector players in West Africa is inadequate information management, packaging and dissemination of knowledge and experiences as products of citizen and water resource management,” he said.
Alhaji Sulemana said this culminated in the formation of regional learning centres on water management, citizen engagement, decentralised service delivery and sanitation.
Professor David Millar, Member of the Strategic Advisory Committee of WaterAid and the Immediate Past Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies, launching the learning group, called on members to see the group as a pressure group to actively influence decisions in water resource management.
He bemoaned the recent incidences of illegal mining in parts of the three northern regions that affected water bodies and said polluted water, as a result of mining activities, was not healthy for human and animal consumption.
“As a pre-emptive learning group, there is need for you to highlight these issues and ultimately deal effectively with the foreseen bottlenecks in the water and sanitation sector,” he said.
Prof Millar, who is also the Proprietor of the Millar Open University, a private university in Bolgatanga, called for a strategic integration of rain water harvesting and its treatment in the national development plan to curtail the shortage of water.
Participants were drawn from organisations including Rural Aid, BEWDA, the Environmental Protection Agency, Ghana Water Company, Water Resource Institute and the University for Development Studies. GNA