Ghana and the Netherlands get to work with new water policy

Ghana and the Netherlands get to work with new water policy

In the next few years, the Netherlands will work with Ghana to improve that country’s drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. The Government has made €100 million available for this purpose over the next five years.

‘It is now up to the Ghanaians to devise a plan that is sustainable long term without external financing,’ said international cooperation minister Ben Knapen on Tuesday in the Ghanaian capital Accra. He was discussing the Netherlands’ new water policy with Ghana’s vice president, John Dramani Mahama. Mr Knapen praised the Ghanaians for their high economic growth rate and stable democracy.

During his visit, Mr Knapen also stressed the importance of Ghanaian cooperation in the return of failed migrants from the Netherlands. As he pointed out, it is often difficult to get failed migrants back to their home countries.

Mr Knapen spoke with schoolchildren, business people, academic researchers, and representatives of NGOs.

In 2010, the Ghanaian economy grew by 14% – the fastest growth rate in the world. But 40% of the population lack access to safe drinking water and 85% to hygienic toilets.

Sixteen-year-old Joyce Adu, of Oblogo School, showed Mr Knapen how hundreds of schoolchildren have access to only four toilets. She said that, without access to decent toilets, many girls often fail to graduate from school.

Accra still has only one working waste processing plant. As a result, the groundwater becomes polluted, and litter blocks drainage ditches. ‘As donors, we cannot endlessly provide services like water and waste disposal,’ said Mr Knapen. ‘People need to know that these services are not free.’

Mr Knapen does, however, see scope for harnessing the expertise of Dutch research institutes, NGOs and businesses. ‘But,’ he said, ‘it is up to the Ghanaians to come up with sound proposals.’

On Tuesday evening, Mr Knapen travelled from Ghana to Benin to see the results of his new water policy there. The day before, he had launched the new policy at a meeting with representatives of the Dutch water sector. Mr Knapen has also submitted a water policy letter to the House of Representatives. Last year, the Government reviewed its policy on food security. Later this year, it will turn its attention to security and the legal order and sexual and reproductive health.


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