15th July 2024

The author

The world over, sanitation cannot be underestimated as an ingredient that is essential to social and economic development. Ghana has been adjudged as the world’s fastest-growing economy. This has propelled the government to embark on a journey of attracting investment and tourists into the country.

That notwithstanding, if there is one challenge that has reared its ugly head and exposed this country, making those in charge look incapable of solving serious problems, it is the poor sanitation situation that is gazing at us and staining the country’s image.

Failed effort

Over the years, we have failed as a country to decisively and collectively deal with the increasing poor sanitation which began just a few decades ago.  Urbanization, rural-urban drift and the advent of sachet water and other plastic substances can be cited as the genesis of this mess.

A walk or drive through the streets of the major cities, towns and communities will show a staggering state of filth that has engulfed the country.

The question is, ‘what will it take us to nip this disgraceful scene in the bud as a nation?’ What collective efforts etched in commitment and leadership is required of us to address the poor sanitation bedeviling us?

Clearly, providing a remedy to this menace cannot rest on the shoulders of one person, department, organization or even an assembly. The onus lies on us the citizenry, after all, we create this ourselves.

There’s no doubt that we have taken so many things for granted and easily refused to think outside the box.

Often people occupy positions of authority just for the glorification of it and not to render any transforming benefits to life and society. Some even go far-reaching lengths to lobby and fight for positions that they know they don’t merit and cannot execute the job at hand.

Some are considered fit for positions out of nepotism and favoritism, which have given room for square pegs to find themselves in round holes. Can we get rid of the horrific insanitary conditions around us and prevent a stain on our dear nation? Sadness fills the coffers of my heart anytime I take a look at how we continue to tackle sanitation and its associated problems. We seem not to be poised to salvage the situation.

It looks like we are going around in a circle without any progress.

Sad spectacle

We create waste and dispose of them as if someone else will have to deal with that. There’s little or no sense of civic responsibility. We litter our surroundings, cut down trees, burn rubbish and anything around us haphazardly.

We defecate on our beaches, pollute and choke gutters, pour human excreta into our sea as if there are no legislations. We even pollute our scarce water sources as if to suggest we have someone to create a new one for us after we have destroyed them.

We still build open gutters that are hardly maintained and turn them into dumping sites. Are we waiting for somebody to put us right? Attitudinal change is the antidote to the sanitation challenges facing the country.

Undoubtedly, we have a lot of infrastructure and political challenges, but trust you me, a clean environment and good sanitation can make a huge difference. I believe that all our efforts geared towards Covid-19 eradication, socio-economic and political advancement are nothing if we are unable to find solutions to a primary challenge such as poor sanitation.

Not until we have discovered the key to open the problematic door of poor sanitation, we will continue to battle ill health, waste financial resources, and even taint our homeland.

What is even more saddening is that most of our people in office who have the power to cause a change and make things happen trot the globe every day. They see, admire, and appreciate the discipline, beauty, and wonderfulness of other nations, but only return to have a ‘nap or sleep’ on our homeland Ghana.

The trash has become an eyesore and a political flashpoint. I wonder if our officials in power roll down the windows of their V8, Land Cruisers, among other luxurious vehicles, while driving around town to soak in the aromatic stench from the filthy and stinky city.

What happens or what results do they show when the Ministry of Sanitation & Water Resources holds review workshops to find ways of improving its performance. What does its agencies and stakeholders, including Zoomlion Ghana Limited, Ghana Water Company, Water Resources Commission, Community Water and Sanitation Agency, among others, report on?

A lack of sanitation holds back economic growth. According to the World Bank, poor sanitation costs Ghana’s economy around 420million Ghana Cedis, which is equivalent to $290m annually. Are we on the forward march to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the short possible time?

Looking at the sordid picture of sanitation in our country, it behooves on us to diligently work towards ridding our country of filth and protecting the environment given us by the almighty for the future generation.

Such is the way to attain a good standard of living that will catapult Ghana to greater heights.

Sanitation problems in Ghana cannot be solved overnight. This issue needs generational influence. But, in our pursuit of the surest measure of happiness, we must push our efforts and embolden our commitment much broader to secure a nation that’s safe, sound, and free from filth.

The author is a student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ). matildaopokuboabeng@gmail.com


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