By Theresa Osei Tutu, a member of the Rotary Club of Accra-Airport, Ghana
It is often said that water is life. But for many in Ghana, water is disease and death. It is for this reason that Ghanaian Rotarians have embraced the RI-USAID Water and Sanitation Project, to help reduce the diseases that break out as a result of poor water quality and improper sanitation.
About 80 Rotary members from 31 clubs assembled at the Tema Rotary Centre on 12 March to get more insight on their role in the project. Facilitators from Rotary, Global Communities (the implementing partner for USAID) and the Community Water and Sanitation Agency headquartered in Accra (the implementing partner for Rotary) created a lively exchange.
Global Communities covered Behavior Change Communication (BCC) Strategy which includes the need to maximize the benefits of wash interventions by making them sustainable.
This includes encouraging proper hygiene habits at home and improving the supply of clean water and sanitation in communities, schools, and health facilities. They talked about educating community members to wash their hands with soap before eating and after using the toilet, and giving instructions on safe collection and storage of drinking water.
The Community Water and Sanitation Agency plays the role of providing basic WASH services to rural communities, small towns, and institutions. The agency integrates hygiene education with water and sanitation improvements including: hand-dug wells fitted with hand pumps, boreholes fitted with hand pumps, spring development, rain harvesting, and mechanized water systems.
In this project, Rotarians are the legs, hands, eyes, and noses, monitoring the work of the implementing partners to ensure that every single dollar is well- spent. Rotary members will be involved in confirming the needs of the communities selected for improvements, and selecting local contractors to do the work. Rotary members will make at least six trips to each of the 150 communities over the next four years, and report on the progress on a timely basis to the local host committee.
There are many challenges to WASH in Ghana such as:
- Insufficient funding for WASH in the national budget
- Inequitable resources for teaching people about good hygiene compared to other areas such as proper disposal of garbage
- Weak accountability
- Institutional fragmentation
The advocacy team set up by the Rotary host committee at the seminar will work to:
- Increase funding for WASH services in the 13 Municipal and District Assemblies (MDAs) by 2020
- Serve as liaisons between WASH partners and stakeholders in the 13 MDAs to coordinate five yearly national planning meetings
- Bring together donors, service providers, and community members to promote participation, transparency, and accountability
Over 103,000 people in 150 communities will benefit from improved toilets and safe drinking water.
Rotary members have so much to gain from the project and so much to learn in interacting with women, children, and leaders in the communities. Knowing that we are contributing to eliminating open defecation, providing safe drinking water, and raising the dignity of Ghanaians brings us much meaning and fulfillment.
We are excited about this project and the opportunity to be a gift to the world!
Learn more about Rotary’s work with USAID
About the author: Theresa Osei Tutu is chair of the Ghana National PolioPlus committee and a past assistant governor. She is a member of the RI/USAID Water and Sanitation Host Committee in charge of training.