COVID-19: 49% of students in public basic schools have no access to water – CONIWAS

The lives of millions of Ghanaian students in public schools are in danger as it has emerged that almost half the population of pupils in government schools have no access to water in their schools.

The Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation, which disclosed this worrying trend, has called for a swift intervention from the Ghana government especially as the country is grappling with the deadly coronavirus.

Most of these schools are found in rural areas whilst a few are in the urban areas.

Chairman of CONIWAS, Yaw Attah Arhin, in an interview with Prince Minkah on XYZ Tonight stressed the need for government to prioritize tackling sanitation shortfalls urgently to help save the lives students in the country.

“49% of students in public schools have no access to water in their schools,” he stated.

This means such pupils have no water for drinking or for personal hygiene purposes.

Schools Without Toilet Facilities

Apart from most schools not having access to water, Mr Arhin also disclosed that “30 percent of our public basic schools have no toilet facilities” and added that the situation forces pupils to resort to open defecation which is dangerous to the environment.

“According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster survey of 2018, twenty two per cent (22%) of the population defecate in the open on daily basis,” Arhin noted and pointed that the failure to provide toilet facilities to most public basic schools have contributed to the failure of the country to tackle open defecation.

Arhin further stated Ghana had not made any progress in tackling open defecation since  the figure remians same as it was in 1990, according to the Joint Monitoring Platform.

He said the “millions of school children” affected by the lack of water and toilet facilities to enhance teaching and learning end up falling sick regularly because of the inavailability of these basic amenities.

He said Ghana’s neighboour to the north, Burkina Faso, had decreased open defecation by over 20% in the last 30 years yet Ghana had “not made any progress” because authorities were not enforcing sanitation laws.

To him, because the laws were not enforced is why only 21 per cent of the Ghanaian population has access to improved sanitation and toilet facilities as the remaining  79 per cent either engage in open defecation or shared latrines.

Arhin, who has led CONIWAS to conduct researches in the sanitation sector, said the Ghana Education Service (GES) had captured the situation in it’s data yet little was done to improve on the disturbing phenomenon.

Waste Collection

Reacting to the government’s performance in the sanitation sector, Arhin noted tackling filth had become a major problem in the country because successive governments had not put in much efforts and resources to deal with the menace.

He said the situation was very dire and needed government intervention to improve sanitation in the country, stressing that it’s only 70% of the country’s waste is effectively collected.

He asked, “the rest where do they find themselves?” and disclosed”We are not even recycling even up to 2% of the waste generated in Ghana.”

The country makes about 5 million tonnes of waste every year but not enough efforts have been made to recycle solid  waste in the country.

Arhin  wondered why the Plastic waste recycling fund passed in 2010 has not been disbursed to get most of the country’s solid waste recycled.

“Up till date the fund has not been disbursed…I think Parliament should look into it,” he charged.


By Henryson Okrah|

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