The Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, His Excellency Ronald Strikker has visited Urban Water and Sanitation Projects operating in Ashaiman in the Greater Accra region recently.
Accompanied by UNICEF Ghana Acting Representative Rushnan Murtaza, the Ambassador opened a new sanitation facility at Nurumustafia Primary School and met with beneficiaries of the project.
Since 2015 UNICEF, with assistance from the Government of Netherlands, has been supporting the Government of Ghana to implement a four-year urban sanitation project in Ashaiman and Ho municipalities and in the Tamale metropolis. The overall aim is to improve the survival and health of urban children in the country through improved sanitation practices.
Latest figures reveal that five million Ghanaians defecate in the open and do not have access to toilets. Also, two out of five public basic schools in Ghana have no access to sanitation and three out of five basic schools cannot access safe water.
However, since the beginning of the UNICEF-Netherlands project, more than a 1000 pupils in various schools have benefited from improved water, handwashing and sanitation facilities which are in line with minimum standards outlined by the Ghana Education Service
According to the Netherlands Ambassador, “Today’s visit in Ashaiman showed me that lives improve significantly when they have access to clean water and improved sanitation facilities, in particular in urban areas. Thanks to the Urban and Sanitation Project, thousands of citizens of Ashaiman, specifically school children, do have proper toilets and have become convinced of the importance of good sanitation practices, for themselves and their neighbourhood”
“I was impressed by the commitment of school teachers and parents of the schools we visited to make sure that the new facilities are well maintained, for their children. To them and to our partners, UNICEF, People’s Dialogue and The Ashaiman Municipal Assembly, I say “Keep up the good work!” this is a contribution to a cleaner and healthier Ghana. We, the Netherlands, are proud to be a part of that effort through the Ghana-Netherlands Water and Sanitation Programme (GNWP).”
In light of recent cholera outbreaks and the fact that diarrhoea claims the lives of 3, 600 children in Ghana every year, this project is a step in the right direction to reduce these deaths.
During the visit, the Ambassador also attended a community triggering event that connects community members to educate and sensitize them on sanitation issues. As part of the community triggering process, three behaviour change approaches namely urban Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), Community-Led Urban Environmental Sanitation (CLUES) and Community Development for Health (CDH) have been adapted and piloted in Tamale, Ashaiman and Ho respectively.
“Sanitation and the general wellbeing of our children is a shared responsibility. Behaviour change is key for Ghana to attain Open-Defecation-Free status and we are pleased to have a partner in the Kingdom of the Netherlands who shares this vision and is as determined to make it a reality.” Rushnan Murtaza, UNICEF Representative (Acting) stated.
It is expected that a total of 300,000 people in Ashaiman, Ho and Tamale will have increased access to improved sanitation by the end of 2018. The construction of water reservoirs, sanitation blocks and hand washing facilities in 30 schools within these urban areas are expected to directly benefit about 9,000 children. In addition, the project is working towards developing a workable and scalable urban sanitation model – to enable addressing urban sanitation challenges in a more inclusive, coherent and systematic manner.