M-CODe, Partners want strengthened maintenance regulations for WASH in schools

Accra� The Media Coalition against Open Defecation (M-CODe), in partnership with World Vision and the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) have called for intensification and strengthening of maintenance regulations of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities in public basic schools.

The call followed a number of visits by members of M-CODe, GAMA and World Vision to schools that benefited from the GAMA improved toilet facility project.

They made the call at a National Symposium in Accra on the theme, The State of WASH in Ghanaian Schools: Remedies and Actions.

Members observed that beneficiary schools poorly maintained their WASH facilities due to poor supervision on the part of school authorities and the district level of the Ghana Education Service (GES) authorities, especially the Circuit Supervisors.

Mr Yaw Atta Arhin, WASH Technical Coordinator of World Vision Ghana, said access to WASH facilities in schools had been a huge challenge, adding that, between 2013 and 2018, access to toilet and sanitation facilities in public basic schools increased by only five per cent, from 60 per cent to 65 per cent.

With access to safe water, private schools recorded a reduction, from 84 to 82 per cent, while public schools had a reduction from 78 to 74 per cent.

The Ministry of Sanitation, meanwhile, was one of the sectors that received huge sums of funds for developmental projects, he noted.

He, therefore, called on the Media and the public to play a watchdog role to put authorities on their toes to ensure that they implement sustainable WASH developmental projects.

Mr Patrick Yaw Boamah, the Deputy Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources said government had invested almost a billion dollars in the water and sanitation sector to improve on them.

He said the Community Water and Sanitation Agency, under the Ministry of Sanitation, had also installed over 20,000 toilet facilities in six regions across the country.

Speaking on the supervision of WASH facilities in schools, Mr Boamah, who is also the Member of Parliament for Okaikwei Central Constituency said, the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies especially, within his jurisdiction, were performing their supervisory roles and dragging perpetrators to face the law.

He urged the MMDAs to be very tough on enforcement of sanitation byelaws and also resource their members to use the law in their operations.

Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, the Deputy Minister of Education, said personal and environmental hygiene formed part of the curriculum of the Ghana Education Service and were essential ingredients in the education of pupils and students, in both basic and senior high schools.

A key step to improve sanitation is to educate citizens on habits that worsen the situation and crucial to this, was shaping the behavioral attitudes of children and ingraining them, as part of their psyche, he said.

Dr Adutwum explained that, when done properly and effectively, it would form firm foundations for their attitudes as they grow older and become adult citizens.

Mr Ben Arthur, a WASH Consultant to UNICEF said totally preventing community members from using WASH facilities in schools would be challenging, unless measures are put in place to help them to get such facilities in the communities.

If schools within a community have toilet facilities and the community members don’t have one, definitely the community would compete with the schools over the facility. It is therefore important to advocate communities to get such facilities, he said.

He called on Heads of school to find innovative ways to generate funds to maintain their schools’ WASH facilities and desist from depending solely on government for all their financial support.

Source: Ghana News Agency