17 January 2013

Ghana: Let's Address Sanitation Long-Term

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The year 2013 seems to be the year the Good Lord has chosen for Ghana to get to the roots of our filthy and insanitary conditions.Oon the last day of 2012, former President Jerry John Rawlings, in his address at the 31st Anniversary of the 31st December 1981 Revolution, made a heartfelt appeal to all and sundry to curb our insanitary habits. Currently, the 64th Annual New Year School and Conference, which opened in Accra on Monday, is on the theme "The Key to the Future of our Nation: Improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene"

The Chronicle does not think the apparent meeting of minds on sanitation is a mere coincidence. We believe it is a divinely inspired clarion call on us to institute measures to rescue the situation and save our grandchildren from to an environmental degradation worse than ours.

In the view of The Chronicle, there is the need for long term measures that would target the children in pre and nursery schools, so that the next generation would reclaim the social and environmental discipline that was in force at the time of the 1966 coup. Truth is, it is generations since the coup who exhibit the most social indiscipline in society today.

The Chronicle would like to recommend the re-introduction of civic education in the basic school syllabus. All those in school before the 1966 coup fondly recall how civic education imbibed in them principles of responsible citizenship. It is a surprise that the civilian advisers of the military recommended the deletion of civic education from the curriculum. Very myopic and short-sighted indeed.

The Chronicle also calls on the authorities to crack the whip, as was the practice before. We need to re-introduce the weekly sanitary inspection visits by officials from the Ministry of Local Government, and the ubiquitous "saman krataa" that householders strove heaven and earth to avoid falling victim to, by making sure their environments were clean. These days, the summons should be issued in the name of the landlord or lady. The harassment they would suffer as a result would motivate them to keep their tenants in check.

Also the District and Municipal Assemblies should shed their unholy fear of landlords, and insist on the provision of toilets in all compound houses in the urban centres. As Nana Oduro Kwarteng, Chief Director of the Ministry of Local and Rural Development, pointed out at the New Year School on Tuesday, it was impossible to enforce sanitary rules when people have to wake up at dawn to queue to answer nature's call, because they have no toilets at home.

"The time has come for institutions in the public sector to live up to their mandate, by ensuring that interventions were effected to make it convenient for people to live under basic sanitary conditions, by simply enforcing the laws on habitable buildings, and the disposal of both liquid and solid wastes," Nana Kwarteng said.

The Chronicle would like to suggest a methodology of creating toilets in houses where there are none. In houses where there are no toilets, the officials should ask the landlord for a room, create two toilets there, and invoice the landlord with the cost, which the landlord would defray by monthly instalments.

Once the authorities have done their duty, which they are currently criminally avoiding, they should institute mobile sanitary courts that would enforce the rules. Such courts are working well in more in-disciplined jurisdictions, and there is no reason why we should not have them in Ghana.

As our democracy blossoms and draws international approbation, our cleanliness should be next to Godliness.

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