On November 1, 2014, the Government of Ghana, in response to the 2014 Ghanaian cholera outbreak, launched the National Sanitation Day across Ghana, thus earmarking the first Saturday of every month a sanitation day.
The day is a voluntary clean-up exercise for all Ghanaian residents, in an effort to reduce unsanitary conditions that breed diseases and cause injuries.
The National Sanitation Day (NSD) is an initiative by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, which has had legal backing by Parliament, to the effect that individuals who refuse to take part in the programme could be prosecuted.
Indications are that the National Sanitation Day has come to stay, but its impact is nothing to write home about. There is, therefore, the need for the country to focus and give priority to it in order to achieve its intended purpose.
While groping for an antidote for the lackadaisical attitude towards the NSD came the President’s intention to rotate the Independence Day parade, following the success of the Tamale edition, the first-ever outside the capital of Accra.
With this presidential intention comes fallout eventually. The good news is that respite has been found in the recommendation of the Bekwai Constituency Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. Patrick Adu Gyamfi, for the government to up sanitation in the cities, and, by extension, the district capitals.
Mr. Adu Gyamfi has suggested, for the consideration of the government, to use sanitation as the criteria for the selection of a regional capital to host the Independence Day parade. The NPP executive also recommended that the government, through the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, institutes a competition for the 16 regions to be keenly contested, and that the regional capital, which emerges the cleanest and overall winner, qualifies to host the subsequent parade.
Mr. Adu Gyamfi contends that the proposal would be a perfect plan to tackle the worsening sanitation problems which our city authorities are struggling to deal with.
In April 2017, President Akufo-Addo declared war on filth in Ghana and promised to make Accra the cleanest city in Africa, thus encouraging Mr. Adu Gyamfi to believe that the adoption of the sanitation contest is the best yardstick for the selection of the cleanest regional capital for the occasion.
According to the NPP Chairman, not only would Accra, as the national capital, and regional capitals be clean, but also the district capitals, as cleanliness would transcend to the various towns and communities.
We side with Mr. Adu Gyamfi and believe the proposed sanitation contest would also give the national sanitation campaign, which is yielding no result, a better boost and contribute to the President’s bid to make Accra the cleanest city in Africa by the end of his term.
Like the Bekwai NPP Chairman, we want to charge the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to make waste collection and the fight against filth a priority, in order to tackle the phenomenon of heaps of garbage which are common features in most communities.
The paper also suggests that the government work out modalities along the lines of Mr. Adu Gyamfi’s recommendation, and decide, by close of the year, which of the regional capitals would host the Independence Day parade.
We are appealing to traditional rulers to live up the spirit of communalism among their subjects, in support of the government efforts to sustain good sanitation practices in the country. It is the responsibility of each and every Ghanaian to support the government to achieve its dream regarding sanitation, because the citizenry stand to gain by the success of the programme thus suggested.