2020/12/28 Dresden, Germany
By Raghid Shehayeb
Dr Gerald Forkuor (UNU-INRA) and Dr Daniel Nukpezah (University of Ghana) showcased Ghana’s international and national commitments towards the realisation of Human Rights to Water and Sanitation (HRWS) considering the climate change risks and the need for collaboration. The session took place virtually on 25 November 2020 with more than 40 participants joining.
The International Water Colloquium, organised by UNU-FLORES, the University of Bonn, and TU Dresden, addresses the topic “Cooperation in Water Management – Tackling a Global Challenge”. UN institutions, alongside their local partners, share their experiences about collaborative water-related projects and activities, highlighting the need for cooperation within the water management. The series running from 4 November to 16 December 2020 aims to foster collective knowledge development and further possibilities for cooperation.
Dr Forkuor began the presentation by highlighting the HRWS-related international treaties and guidelines that Ghana has committed to including the UN Sustainable Development Goals (2015). Additionally, the National Water Policy (2007) and the Water Sector Strategic Development Plan (2014) explicitly state the people’s right to adequate water supply and sanitation. Research revealed a significant improvement in the water supply services and basic sanitation within the last decade, but high inequality still exists between urban and rural areas within the nation. For instance, 65 per cent of urban dwellers have access to safely managed water compared to only 18 per cent in rural areas. Besides, other constraints such as open defecation increased from 18.7 per cent in 2015 to 22 per cent in 2017. Dr Forkuor added that COVID-19 has further brought to the fore the inequalities in aspects of the provision of water and sanitation facilities.
Dr Nukpezah discussed the risks that climate change poses on water supply and sanitation and before zooming in to a case study on the schools in the Keta municipality. In Ghana, the intensified flood events that accompany climate change reduce water quantity (surface and groundwater) whereas and cause water quality to deteriorate. Moreover, flooding and sea-level rise are hazards directly affecting the municipality of Keta. Dr Nukpezah mentioned that children, especially girls, are a vulnerable group that require special considerations. Based on an evaluation of the resilience of schools, ways to improve their WASH facilities were deduced such as providing adequate soap, sanitisers, detergents, and brushes for cleaning. Dr Nukpezah wrapped up his presentation by stressing on the need for cooperation between the private sector, financial institutions, policymakers, and research organisations to realise HRWS.
The panellists stated that – based on their experience – COVID-19 restrictions causing schedule delays, among others, were the main challenges within their cooperation work. However, cooperation created synergies. Working with young entrepreneurs was an excellent opportunity to show the potential of innovations in addressing community needs.
The colloquium participants raised many interesting questions regarding measuring climate resilience, private initiatives, cultural and gender aspects of sanitation, and the role of institutions. Dr Nukpezah and Dr Forkuor addressed these questions. They indicated that governmental efforts to improve WASH services in schools through institutions and programmes already exist. Still, there is room for improvement and more cooperation with the private sector. Finally, the panellists added that progress cannot be achieved except by developing the WASH infrastructure with a view on people’s livelihoods, in addition to continuous education and awareness campaigns.
2019. “GHANA: Voluntary National Review Report on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” Accra: National Development Planning Commission.