Open defecation in the Bolgatanga Municipality continues to be a bane to quality water supply to the people, Mr Aaron Aduna, Basin Officer of the WhiteVolta Basin, Water Resosurces Commission, has said.
“Open defecation is widespread here and so we need to deal with the situation since the faecal matter drains into the water bodies and pollutes them,” Mr Aaron told the GNA in Bolgatanga on the sidelines of a workshop held for stakeholders in the Upper East Region to assess the water and sanitation situation there.
Mr Aduna said most of the homes and villages do not have adequate toilet facilities and so the landlords and the district assemblies should collaborate with the Area Council to provide such facilities to the people.
“Communities should be guided to maintain such facilities as sanitary officers work to ensure that people conform to the law,” he said.
On the water situation in the region, Mr Aduna said some of the communities faced serious challenges as the water level in the Vea Dam, the main source of water for the people, continued to reduce in volume.
He, therefore, expressed happiness that the assessment workshop would help participants share and gain knowledge as to how to work togther to improve the water and sanitataion situation in the region.
Meanwhile, particpants at the workshop mentioned water pollution with agro chemicals and washing activities by community members, siltation of water bodies, farming near river banks, and inadequate potable water supply and water points (boreholes) as some of the challenges facing the region.
They said inadequate hand washing facilities in the schools and lack of adequate toilet facilities for the institutions, indiscriminate dumping of waste and unauthorised structures sited on open space, water courses and state lands without any prior notification were other issues affecting the communities.
They called for intensified awareness creation, enforcement of buffer zone policy, as well as the creation of alternative livelihoods, and the dredging of water bodies, alongside planting of trees along the catchment area.
The participants said the provision of more water points, especially in the institutions, sourcing funding to expand the urban water system as well as capacity building of stakeholders in water resouces management would help improve the situation.
They called for appropriate sanctions to be applied to encroachers on river banks and other reserved lands to deter them from such acts while planning and sensitisation workshops should be organised to educate land owners about land use and planning standards.
Ms Freda Aminizi of the Environmental Protection Agency, mentioned other challenges facing the region as problems with land tenure system, inadequate funding, inability to monitor and evaluate progress of activities, inactive community watershed management teams and lack of alternative livelihoods for community members who had to lose portions of their farmlands due to water resources management activities.
Poor communication linkage within and among implementing agencies, low level of commitment by some district assemblies, implementing agencies and community beneficiaries were other challenges facing the region.
On the way forward, Ms Aminizi called for joint consultation with traditional authorities and land owners on access to land, and adequate funding for water resources management project implementation.
“Broad stakeholder approach for project implementation is central for significant achievement in Water Resources Management Projects.
“What is required is an integrated approach to equip rural communities with relevant income generating skills to take advantage of every available opportunity at the community level,” she said.
The Water Resources Commission, in collaboration with Global Water Partnership, organised the workshop aimed at improving access to water and improved sanitation in the area.
The workshop forms part of the Accelerating Sanitation and Water for All in Ghana project, being undertaken by the Water Resources Commission (WRC) with sponsorhip from UNICEF and support by the Netherlands Government.
It would help find ways to accelerate water and sanitation coverage to meet MDG 7 on water and sanitation.
Participants in the workshop included representative of district assembles, Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and non-governmental organisations in the Upper East Region.
The project is being carried out in five regions of the country namely the Central, Volta, Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions. GNA