By Jones Klutse
I have noted with shock the number of Ghanaians calling for a total lockdown within the country like a couple of western countries have done. In as much as their emotions, most likely, may be driving this call, I would like to avert their minds to some statistics of the reality in our country. And this should also serve as a guide to our President.
All my statistics are coming from the Ghana Living Standards Survey compiled by the Ghana Statistical Service, the mandated body for collection of statistics for our country.
According to Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), 91 per cent of homes in Accra, the capital city of Ghana, are without places of convenience. Over 114,521 residences in Accra are without places of convenience. Three-hundred and fifteen (315) houses use the outlawed pan latrines and 79 houses use pit latrines.
Also 35.7 per cent of households across the country use public toilet; 19 per cent of households across the country resort to open defecation and 81 per cent of Ghanaians lack access to improved sanitation or are entirely without toilet facilities. And we are talking of nature’s call oo!
All these staggering statistics tell you how a very large number of our population, both in the capital city and the country at large, resorts to public toilet. So where and how would all these people ease themselves during a total lockdown, where they can’t even step out of their houses?
Issues with water
In Ghana, more than five million people, constituting over 18 per cent of the population, rely on surface water to meet their daily water needs; 32.3 per cent of households across the country have their main source of drinking water from wells; 12.5 per cent use public taps; and 73.9 per cent of households in rural areas use either wells or natural sources.
Those living in poverty often pay up to 10 times more per liter for water service from private vendors than their middle-class counterparts connected to piped water services. How would these huge percentage of our population get access to water during a total lockdown in the country?
Again, 6.8 million Ghanaians, almost 25 per cent of our entire population, live on less than one dollar a day; 2.4 million are in abject poverty, meaning they can’t even afford to spend up to 50 Cent a day on food.
How do all these people afford to engage in ‘panic buying’ so as to buy and stock up foods that should last for as long as the total lockdown would take, if it would take weeks or even months?
Forty per cent of those within the ‘national poverty’ bracket are in the five northern regions. Knowing how volatile those regions are, are we not calling for national security threat if we are to lock these people down and there’s no means for them to cater for themselves and their families?
Don’t create bigger problem
According to Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (Ghana Office) about 88 per cent of the workforce in Ghana are employed in the informal sector and therefore “earn less money, has irregular income and do not have access to basic protections and services of the State.” In the event of a total lockdown, they would be hit the hardest! Have we thought of its implications on the threat to our national security?
The western countries, such as Italy, France, among others, that are implementing this total lockdown, are paying for the rents, food and other basic social amenities, among others, for their population during this total lockdown. Their dynamics and ours are totally different! The question is: can we afford same? So, before we copy blindly let’s look at our statistics, facts and figures before creating a bigger problem whilst trying to solve this one.