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Building Resilient Systems for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Services: Insights from Ghana’s Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources

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Madam Cecilia Abena Dapaah, the Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources in Ghana, recently spoke at the All Systems Connect International Symposium held in The Hague, Netherlands. She emphasized the need for a system approach in recovering from the global health pandemic and its economic challenges, particularly in building resilient systems for delivering WASH services. The Minister stressed that fragmented and siloed thinking of the past could not solve the multidimensional challenges we face today.

The symposium, hosted by One For All Partners IRC and supported by UNICEF, WHO, the Netherlands Government, World Vision, Conrad N. Hilton, and Osprey Foundations, brought together ministerial level delegations from several countries, including Ghana, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, Rwanda, and Uganda. Over 700 changemakers and system leaders globally attended the meeting and discussed issues relating to WASH and the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Madam Dapaah acknowledged the challenges in attaining universal access to drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene by 2030, stressing the need for a clear and deliberate shift from “business-as-usual” to achieve this goal. She highlighted Ghana’s adaptation of a systems approach for improving WASH service delivery, stating that the country has made strides towards attaining global targets and goals such as the Millennium Development Goals and the SDGs.

Ghana achieved the Millennium Development Goals targets for water in 2010, five years before the targeted date of 2015, but the same feat could not be achieved for sanitation. The Minister outlined Ghana’s transformative agenda in the WASH sector, which includes enhancing private sector participation in water supply services and establishing a fund for households to install their own toilets. However, she emphasized that the government could not do it all alone but needed the support of development partners to build a resilient system that would ensure sustainable WASH services for all.

For the most part, Madam Dapaah’s speech focused on the importance of a systems approach in building resilient systems for delivering WASH services. She highlighted Ghana’s efforts towards attaining global targets and goals and called for increased private sector participation and development partner support to achieve universal access to WASH services by 2030. Her speech serves as a call to action for countries to work together towards building resilient systems for WASH service delivery.

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