Stakeholders have met in Bolgatanga to discuss and brainstorm innovative measures to inform policies and action measures to help address challenges confronting sustainable access to water in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region. The stakeholders identified and analysed the challenges in terms of WASH coverage such as water resource management, water supply, climate change, gender, security, WASH in nutrition, WASH in emergencies, institutional development and sector strengthening among others and discussed how the various stakeholders played critical roles to addressing them. The forum, organised by WaterAid Ghana, a WASH-focused organisation was part of a process initiated in partnership with the Upper East Regional Minister and the Bongo District to create a formalised agreement to work towards achieving sustainable access to WASH. As part of the agreement that binds the region and Bongo District in particular, a five-year road map for WASH systems strengthening reforms in healthcare delivery and achieving universal coverage in the Bongo District is to be developed. WaterAid Ghana would facilitate the creation of a shared vision among relevant stakeholders that would contribute to the development of both the Upper East Regional Universal and Sustainable WASH Compact and the Bongo WASH Systems Strengthening Compact. It also aimed to make the Bongo District a model for other districts to learn and replicate the interventions in their areas to help achieve universal access to WASH and the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal Six. The stakeholders mainly in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector were drawn from the national, regional, district and community levels including government institutions and departments, development partners, service providers, Non-Goverrnmental organisations, civil society organisations, traditional authorities and community leaders. Ms Ewurabena Yanyi-Akofur, the Country Director of WaterAid Ghana, said the Bongo District was one of WaterAid Ghana’s focus areas in the next five years and her ambition was to work with stakeholders to ensure universal access to WASH infrastructure, systems and services. She said the forum was to engage the stakeholders to come out with a formalised agreement that binds the various stakeholders with defined roles committing them to action that would help identify gaps in the WASH sector, prioritise such issues and work to address them. She said the vision was in line with the Ghana WASH Sector Development Programme to ensure that there was universal access to WASH in the country and contributed to attaining the SDGs. ‘This is the first that is being done at the district level where the district is intentionally going through the process to figure out how their prioritise aligns with the Ghana WASH Sector Development Programme and how they can bring all stakeholders together to make sure this is achieved,’ she said. Ms Rita Atanga, the District Chief Executive for Bongo, indicated that issues of fluoride continued to be a major challenge in the district and expressed the hope that with strengthened collaboration among relevant stakeholders, the issue could be brought under control. She urged the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission to intervene to ensure that the Ghana Water Company Limited supplied the district with treated water from the Vea Dam which is located in the district. Naba Baba Salifu Lemyaarum, the Paramount Chief of the Bongo District Area, assured the stakeholders that the traditional council would support every activity to ensure that the project succeeded and urged the stakeholders to work together to improve the water situation in the district.
Source: Ghana News Agency