Another World Bank study (2010) - about how we take care of our environment. And of course, it says things are bad, because THAT'S JUST THE WAY IT IS. Period.
At least we have started 2013 on a good note, (paper-top and cheap talk anyway) - holding this year's Annual New Year School and Conference under the theme, "The Key to Future Health of our Nation: Improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. At the opening of the 64th edition, Professor Yaw Oheneba-Sakyi, Director of the Institute of Continuing and Distance Education, disclosed that according to the Water and Sanitation Programme of the World Bank, Ghana loses 420 million Ghana cedis yearly due to poor sanitation.He said the "enormous" challenge posed by rapid urbanization, coupled with institutional weakness in physical planning policies, had led to the growth of slums which had no access to safe drinking water and good sanitary practices.
Do you remember what former President J.J. Rawlings said at the celebration of last year's 31st December Revolution? He said typhoid is too rampant in this country because of unhygienic conditions on the country. Prof Oheneba-Sakyi shared similar sentiments - "Incidence and daily reporting of diarrhoea and malaria cases in our poor and rural communities are pointers to the fact that there are poor sanitation practices and the absence of hygiene education, which depletes the human resource needed for national development." He added that effective delivery of environmental sanitation services, remained one of the huge challenges of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies.
So what's the way forward?
Prof. Sakyi suggested a national crusade on sanitation to effect a drastic change "in our behaviour and attitude towards all waste issues and it should include advocacy at the highest level of government, effective implementation of policies and rigorous sanitation and hygiene education as well as enforcement management. Bang! Well said, but this is the music we have been singing all this while. Two people need to make this happen. You and I on one side - our job is to change our behaviour and attitudes towards the environment. And the government on the other side - effective implementation of policies. Come on, why do we keep saying this over and over again?
Prof Oheneba-Sakyi said "failure to do so would mean Ghana could miss the Millennium Development Goal target for improved basic sanitation by 2015.
Also speaking at the conference, Justice (Prof) Samuel Date-Bah, Chairman of the Council, University of Ghana, Legon, said "water, sanitation and hygiene are key to our survival and should not be left to government alone."He said with 1.6 million people dying from cholera and other sanitation related diseases every year all over the world, it was clear that the problem of sanitation needed to be tackled seriously.
Then the one I didn't want to hear also came in. Mr Enoch Teye Mensah, Caretaker Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing. He said the country faced challenges in the area of water sanitation, adding that apart from poor sanitary practices that had adverse effects on water bodies, activities such as mining affected river bodies. Don't we know this already? Mr. Mensah, when you are in power and have sat down, with all our army here, and left heavily armed local and foreign civilians to invade the country and operate galamsay mines, why won't this happen? People have even invaded the Bui National Park, an area supposed to be reserved and protected. Ridiculous. Stop all this paper work and cheap talk and act.
Let's all stop killing the environment before it kills us. Go and stay green.