Ghana Marks Global Handwashing Day
The Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Cecelia Abena Dapaah has directed the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to take sanitation issues seriously or be shown the exit.
In a no holds barred statement following a tour of the Agbogbloshie Market in Accra yesterday, the minister who was displeased about the state of the infamous market chided the assemblies for the laxity with which they discharge their duties contributing to the filth in the country.
"We need to hold people accountable. Most of them are not working well. We are going to strictly monitor and evaluate their work moving forward to ensure we have value for money.
They must henceforth take sanitation issues seriously and wage a war against filth particularly at the various markets in our country," she instructed.
Madam Dapaah was at the market for the commemoration of this year's Global Handwashing Day (GHD) which seeks to mobilise people around the world to improve their handwashing habits.
Going round the market, it was observed that the market, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), was reeling under intense filth as most gutters were choked with plastics and other materials exuding pungent smells and flies while market women glaringly sold foodstuffs close to them.
The minister who would not accept an excuse by the Head of Operations, Chief Joseph Okine and Director of Drains, Mr Graham Sarbah respectively both at the AMA that traders continued to dump refuse in the gutters despite several warnings from the Assembly directed that all drains in the market be desilted within a week.
Speaking earlier at a durbar to mark the day, the minister urged market women to practice cleanliness and proper handwashing as it was critical to "keep food safe and prevent food related diseases."
"As busy people in our markets who deal in food and foodstuffs, you have a critical role to play in ensuring our food is safe because you contribute to the total health and well being of the larger population," she stated.
Mrs Dapaah said there would be sensitisation activities at public places including schools and hospitals to reinforce the practice of handwashing with soap, pointing out that, "it is high time Ghanaians put sanitation and hygiene into their proper perspective because sanitation gives dignity and promotes health."
The Metropolitan Chief Executive of Accra, Mohammed Nii Adjei Sowah who chaired the event and subsequently toured the market with the minister hinted of plans to ban the selling of foodstuffs on bare floor or by the roadside at the various markets.
Mr Worlanyo Kwadwo Siabi, Chief Executive Officer of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), organisers of the programme, noted that despite high awareness on handwashing, its practice had only increased by about 30 per cent since 2008.