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Hon. Kofi Adda,Minister for Sanitation and Water Resource
Hon. Kofi Adda,Minister for Sanitation and Water Resource

Civil Society calls for establishment of National Sanitation Authority

Civil Society organisations working in the Natural Resources and Environment Sector of Ghana are calling for the establishment of a national Sanitation Authority to implement the policies and programmes of the Ministry of Sanitation.

In a communiqué issued at the end of  its  8th civil society Annual Review of Ghana’s natural resources and environmental governance performance over the past year; which was  held  in Accra  recently, the group  demanded of government to “establish a National Sanitation Authority and resource it to effectively coordinate activities to address Ghana’s poor sanitation challenges, including sanitation in schools.”

It also called on the government to adequately resource the new Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources to deliver on its mandate, including achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 6, while creating the enabling environment for private sector participation in the WASH sector to co-create solutions that last.

The communiqué also encouraged government to take appropriate steps to review sector policies and strategies to ensure alignment with aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goal 6.

In the area of Climate Change and Environment, the communiqué said, “we also recommend a greater involvement of stakeholders and representation of civil society voices in the review and preparatory phases of the Ghana Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to reflect a true national agenda,  adding, “it is important to ensure a true representation of CSOs in Green Climate Fund (GCF) processes including the accreditation and development of proposals.”

While the communiqué commended government and the various NRE sector agencies for the amendment of the Companies Act to legally require companies to disclose their Beneficial Owners; the effort to sanitise the mining sector and attempts made to address the environmental costs of mining through the Multilateral Mining Integrated Mining Project (MMIP); The efforts to work with the different stakeholders to develop proposals to access funding from the Green Climate Funds to mitigate the impacts of climate change and improve our resilience.

The consolidation of Legislative Instruments in the Forest Sector through the passing of the LI 2254 (2017), and its proactive provisions for transparency and reform of the timber harvesting regime; Establishing the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources which is expected to give the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector increased prioritisation and focus;

It said, in spite of the aforementioned initiatives, “We note that, there still remain major challenges that need to be addressed. The  challenges according to the communiqué  include: The very promotional nature of the Minerals and Mining Act 2000, Act 703, which is focused on maximising profits for companies; externalising the cost and effects of mining on local communities and peoples; and very weak on safeguarding our environment.

The poor transparency in the Mining sector including the lack of legal backing to make compliance with the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI) obligatory for companies; provision of reliable information from the environmental audit reports of industry to local communities on the state of their water bodies they use.

The unsustainable trade in rosewood and the granting conveyance to companies which continue the endless cycle of illegal felling of rosewood in the savannah regions of the north.

The upsurge and appetite to mine forest reserves and protected areas which perform valuable ecosystem functions such as the Atewa Mountain Range and the Tano Offin Forest Reserves.

It further pointed out the need to develop an integrated land administration policy to define land use in Ghana.

Analysing these challenges,   the group recommended that   the following actions among others should be taken to reverse the degradation and improve the governance and management of natural resources and environmental governance.  It stated  that greater political will  is  needed to derive the much-needed reforms for tree tenure and benefit sharing, to provide the needed incentive for farmers and land owners to nurture and keep trees on their farms.

Greater effort by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Food and is Agriculture is  needed  to address the cocoa sector which is driving deforestation and degradation of forests particularly in the high forest zones.

In Addition, it emphasised  the need to tread cautiously in the effort to develop the bauxite resources of by mining the Tano offin and Atewa Forest Reserves, considering the irreversible impacts on water, the environment and the large population of people the depend on these two forest ecosystems.

In  the Mining  sector, the  communiqué emphasised the need to expedite action to operationalise beneficial ownership disclosure in the Mining Sector to promote transparency and accountability.  It also called foe  the Review  of  the  Minerals and Mining, 2006 Act 703, considering environmental, social and polluter pay principles, and higher responsibility for mining companies is long overdue.

It added, “Mining communities would benefit a lot from the internalisation of the FPIC process in the Minerals and Mining Act to provide communities with the options to choose which economic activities on their lands are considered beneficial.”

 

 

 

 

 

 By Mohammed Suleman

 

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