Ghana’s true State of the Nation address (SONA)

28 February 2013

South Africans recently listened to yet another ho-hum State of (our) Nation Address (SONA) – an utterly boring and inept re-run of vague promises and intentions, all of which have been heard before, remain in limbo and did nothing to invigorate the nation.  Opposition party criticism devolved to the usual critiques, lacking in any rigorous substance but providing an opportunity to do some flag-waving.  The fact that so many of the opposition party members saw fit to dress up in fantasy ball outfits to attend the annual parliamentary opening made me shudder.

Ghana is often mentioned as the most dynamic country in Africa, rapidly eclipsing South Africa’s long-unchallened but now rapidly decaying claim to this title.  At least they have an opposition party that has the chutzpah to come out with a detailed and unemotional response to their SONA, in the form of the Ghanaian NPP’s True State of the Nation (TSONA) (see full statement).

Ghana’s TSONA appears to have left little out – and here is what they had to say about water (water and water quality being Droplet’s primary focus):

It is worrying to note that at a time when the nation is facing one of its worst water crisis, the NDC have failed to offer solution, leaving ordinary Ghanaians to grapple with water supply their own way possibly until some medium to long term solutions are implemented.

The current state of our water delivery system is summed up as follows:

• The Accra water supply is in shambles plagued by inefficiency and not enough investment in the last four years

• Over reliance on factory purified water by most residents with serious financial consequences for low income groups

• The threat of water related diseases like cholera in very poor communities who are the worst hit by the crisis

• The serious sanitation crisis already confronting our major cities is now compounded by the lack of running water in many communities

• Most of the rural and small town water projects under construction have stalled due to lack of funding.

• No serious attention is being paid to the ever increasing pollution and destruction of our river bodies and water sources.

Access to safe and affordable water for every Ghanaian, a right under our constitution, is definitely not a priority of the NDC governments considering the lack of sufficient investment in this vital sector.

A lot of these points draw stark similarities to the South African situation, despite the governments apparent attention to effective and integrated water resource management – a process severely hamstrung by the large-scale collapse of wastewater treatment infrastructure and crippling skills losses.  South Africa’s most recent budget has seen an allocation of ZAR6.5 Bn to the Department of Water Affairs for repairs – but I fear that the damage is so extensive that this will be a mere drop in the ocean.

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