Legislate Right to Water and Sanitation

From William N-lanjerborr Jalulah, Bolgatanga

Professor Albert K. Fiadjoe, Chairman, CRC

THE EXECUTIVE Officer of Harud and Associates, a Law and Development Consultancy firm, Mr. Rudolf Amenga-Etego, is calling on the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) to consider adding a clause on Right to Water and Sanitation into the amendment of the Constitution of Ghana.

Making the call in Bolgatanga on Wednesday, as part of this year’s Human Rights Day celebration, Mr. Amenga-Etego said an unambiguous provision on the right to water and sanitation in the constitution would help generate the political will required to make the necessary reforms to policies, to raise resources, how to utilise such resources in a manner that would focus on the fundamental needs and aspirations of the citizens to live dignified lives.

The legal practitioner regretted that many Ghanaians do not have access to potable drinking water and proper sanitation facilities, which he noted, was affecting productivity, stressing that access to water and proper sanitation facilities are indispensable for living, and paramount to human dignity.

According to Mr. Amenga-Etego, both the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have recognised the right to water and sanitation as a human rights issue.

He said in 1994, 51 African states, including Ghana, signed the Programme of Action adopted at the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, which recognised in principle “that the right to adequate standard of living includes both water and sanitation.”

“At the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), held in Istanbul in 1996, again, 51 African states, including Ghana, signed onto the Habitat Agenda, which reaffirms this interpretation.”

Mr. Amenga-Etego stated that in 2006, 53 African states, including Ghana, signed the Abuja Declaration adopted in the framework of the first Africa-South America Summit, in which the states were committed to promote the right of their citizens to have access to clean and safe water and sanitation.

Mr. Amenga-Etego said in June 2009, as a landmark move, the 53 African member states within the Non-Aligned Movement, including Ghana, signed the final document of the 15th Summit of Heads of State, which acknowledged the right to water for all.

He said the government of Ghana, with its development partners, agreed at a Development Partners Roundtable meeting, during the first Ghana Water Forum held in Accra in October 2009 acknowledged that access to water and sanitation should be treated as a right, adding that this same commitment was re-echoed and captured in the 2007 water policy document, and again, in the Sanitation Policy Document launched on November 30, 2010.

Mr. Amenga-Etego further stated that although the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana did not explicitly provide for the right to water and sanitation, in Chapter Five of the same constitution, which captured fundamental human rights and freedoms, had clauses that suggested that water, as a basic life support, cannot be treated less than a right.

The Human Rights Day celebration was organised by Harud and Associates, in collaboration with Grassroots Africa, a non-governmental organisation, in the Upper East Region.

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