Ghana requires an estimated GH¢ 2.2 billion (about US$1.5 billion) to solve its sanitation challenges, a joint World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nation Children Fund (UNICEF) assessment has established.
The country already suffers an estimated US$290 million annually due to poor sanitation which should be reversed with the right investments.
Data by WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) states that Ghana is off-track in attaining its sanitation targets and would need to significantly increase investments in order to improve sanitation.
Investments in water and sanitation are better achieved by investing in health, education, the environment and poverty reduction.
However, analyses by some civil society organisations indicate that government allocations to the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing (MWRWH) and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) have reduced significantly in the 2016 budget.
UNICEF, the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) and the Institute of Fiscal Policy (IFP) said that even without taking into account the impact of inflation, the 2016 budget expenditure allocations for the two ministries were far below the US$170 million per annum pledged by the government under the Sanitation and Water for All Compact.
The MWRWH and the MLGRD are agencies responsible for water sanitation and priority interventions in the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA 11) for Water and Sanitation include monitoring water quality and ensuring sustainability, health and hygiene education and the establishment of a National Sanitation Authority as an autonomous agency with independent sources of funding.
Experts say investment in sanitation will not only provide basic services, but will also reap benefits well beyond the water and sanitation sectors.
The sanitation challenge
Ghana has been identiﬁed to be among the worst seven performing countries in the world in terms of sanitation.
Defeacating openly is still a challenge in the country as five million people continue to do it in the open. Worldwide, 1.1 billion people defeacate in the open.
Only 15 per cent of household members are using an improved sanitation facility and nearly one out of five, representing 19 per cent of households in Ghana practice open defecation or have no toilet facilities. The situation is said to be more pronounced in rural areas (34 per cent) than urban areas (seven per cent).
Effect of poor sanitation
The poor in Ghana are said to be 22 times more likely to practice open defection than the rich.
Experts say a gram of human faeces dropped in an open place contains 10 million viruses and one million bacteria. These pathogens spread diseases of all kinds leading to deaths and maiming of citizens.
Poor water, sanitation and hygiene cause the death of about 19,000 Ghanaians, including 5,100 children under five who die annually from diarrhoea.
Indeed, studies have shown that the linkage between open defaecation and social and economic development of a nation is not far fetched.
Sources of funding to MWRWH
According to the IFP/UNICEF/ISODEC analysis, the relatively high budgeted expenditure for the MWRWH in 2013 and 2014 was mainly from donor sources.
Government funding for the ministry has reduced from GH¢89.7 million in 2014 to GH¢11.3 million in 2015 and increased slightly to GH¢14.1 million in 2016.
Internally Generated Fund (IGF) has been fairly stable by increasing its share of funding from 0.9 per cent in 2015 to 1.1 per cent in 2016. Donor Partners funds which provide the bulk of funding increased from 53.9 per cent in 2015 to 64.4 per cent, representing a 10.5 per cent increment.
Funding from Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) of 42.8 per cent reduced to 30.7 per cent representing a 12.1 per cent decline.
The share of the sector’s budgeted expenditure to total Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) budgeted expenditure also increased from 2.74 per cent in 2012 to 3.83 per cent in 2013 and then consistently declined to 3.13 per cent in 2014, to 2.5 per cent in 2015 and to 1.5 per cent in 2016.
The three civil society organisations said this trend of declining allocations was likely to affect the sector’s ability to deliver adequate services.
Funding to the MLGRD
The bulk of funding for the MLGRD has been from donor sources since 2012. Its share decreased from 55.3 per cent in 2012 to 42.4 per cent in 2013, but has consistently increased since 2014 when it provided 65.5 per cent increased to 83.6 per cent in 2015 and to 89.6 per cent in 2016.
Government funding on the other hand, the analysis showed has consistently declined since 2012. From 37.9 per cent in 2012 it reduced slightly to 36.4 per cent and 34.5 per cent in 2013 and 2014 respectively.In 2015, it declined significantly to 16.4 per cent and then just to 10.4 per cent in 2016.
Funding from ABFA ceased since 2013, whilst IGF has not provided any funding since 2012, thus making donor and government funding the only contributors to MLGRD sources of funds.
The share of the sector’s budgeted expenditure to total MDAs budgeted expenditure also increased from 2.2 per cent in 2012 to 2.9 per cent in 2013 and then declined to 1.4 per cent in 2014, slightly increasing to 1.6 per cent in 2015 and then declining to 0.9 per cent in 2016, its lowest level in five years.
Need for improved sanitation
UNICEF emphasises the need to put efforts to reduce open defaecation and eventually eliminate it.
It said government must understand the implications to enable it prioritise sanitation by setting realistic targets. — GB