‘Strategic investment key to improving sanitation’

In 2012, poor sanitation cost Ghana about $290million annually according to a study carried by the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP).

Increase in investment and donor funds should result in a reduction of the cost of poor sanitation incurred by the government and increase the number of people who have access to improved sanitation; Ghana has achieved only 15% of the sanitation target in the MDGs – 54% by 2015.

The cost of poor sanitation measured in 2012 has increased enormously to about $600million in the year 2015 regardless of the increase in investment funds. Ghana has received huge donor funds which are targeted at solving the sanitation challenges in the country; however there has been a minimal improvement in the sanitation sector. Open defecation is still high in urban areas which have resulted in the cholera breakout.

There are many homes without improved sanitation. With an outcry of low investment in the sanitation sector as compared to agriculture, business and other sectors, the World Bank, acting as administrator of the Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid (GPOBA),invested an amount of$4.85 million to assist the government of Ghana to provide sustainable toilet facilities in low income areas.

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The Dutch government is one of the top donors in the sanitation sector in Ghana. In 2014, the Dutch government provided about 150million Euros to the government of Ghana to solve the deplorable water and sanitation conditions in some cities in Ghana.

Recently, Vlisco, a Dutch company which manufactures high quality wax prints invested about 2million Euros in a water treatment plant in one of the municipalities in Ghana.  Regardless of the huge investments being made, the rate of poor sanitation keeps escalating.

Funding or behavioural problem? Why hassanitation not improved in Ghana despite huge investments made? “It is part behavior, part regulatory, part enforcement and part funding. Population and Economic growth are faster than investment from village to complex metropolis in decade, needs different management” said Hans Doctor, Dutch Ambassador to Ghana, during a Twitter chat on the need to invest in sanitation. 

Investment plays a pivotal role in the sanitation sector in helping small sanitation businesses grow. “Investment aids innovation and small businesses to find smart solutions, but we need big bold initiatives too” he said.

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Investment in sanitation does not yield the full results; there are often mismanagement of funds by the government and civil societies.

Funds affianced for sanitation sector are channeled towards other sectors making investment risky. In ensuring effective usage of investment made by the Dutch government, Hans said “investment is never risk free, but we vet the best business plans thoroughly. Our aim is to attract private funding for investment in local sanitation businesses”

The sanitation sector receives huge amount of funds, yet “many funding efforts have not been strategically applied.

“Funding doesn’t work without people,” said Prince Boadu, co-founder of MapTechLogistics.

There is a need to invest in innovative and realistic sanitationbusiness models that provides affordable sanitation services to the poor.