WaterAid Ghana (WAG), in collaboration with the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement, have urged Government to recognise the realisation of the rights to Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) as a climate change adaptation strategy.

They said WASH plays a critical role in ensuring national development and could therefore put negative impediments in the way of sustainable growth if not appropriately targeted.

The two, held a news conference in Accra to present a joint position paper on WASH-based climate change adaptation strategies with the aim of highlighting on the issues and drawing the attention of both government and stakeholders to understand that they need to remain committed to the implementation of the two documents to ease the effects of the problem.

Mr Gideon Maxwell Commey, the Director of the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement, who presented the joint position paper said a number of proposals have been made which include a call for the development and implementation of robust measures to mitigate the problems.

He said the agencies and institutions responsible for implementing the National Climate Change Policy, and the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NACCAS), are also being urged to appropriately target WASH as an adaptation strategy to benefit marginalised people such as people living with HIV and AIDS, people living with disabilities and those with low incomes.

He urged the implementing bodies on climate change programme of action to develop, implement and promote sustainable WASH based adaptation strategies such as rain harvesting technologies, waste management infrastructure, tree planting programmes, water research resources management systems and the provision of adequate sanitation facilities.

They called for the decentralisation of WASH based climate change adaptation strategies by the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing and formulate and coordinate policies and programmes for the systematic development of infrastructure requirements with respect to water supply and management, sanitation and hydrology.

Mr Commey said WASH based climate change adaptation strategies must be mainstreamed at the local government level, and pledged greater commitment to support programmes at the metropolitan, municipal and district assembly (MMDA) levels by providing capacity building and technical support to their officers and officials.

According to him there must be the robust implementation of all the adaptation strategies outlined in the NACCAS and the Ghana Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (GH-INDCs) programme of action, which runs till 2030, through strengthening of efforts to achieve full WASH coverage by 2025.

He said the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda II recognises the role that sustainable finance plays in full WASH and climate adaptation coverage and indicates the need to improve the capacity of finance and administrative staff of MMDAs.

They stated that the Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Unit of the Ministry of Finance should coordinate and track the flow of funds from both domestic and international sources for the implementation of WASH and climate adaptation strategies and make sustainable funding available from the national level down to the local level.

To this end, a conscious link should be created and strengthened between the Ministry of Local Government and rural Development, the Local Government Service and the MMDAs to ensure that funding are made available at the local levels, he said.

He said called for the strengthening of the Parliamentary select committee on climate change to develop measures to ensure transparency, efficiency and accountability in finance delivery for WASH based climate adaptation strategies while ensuring equity in accessibility.

He said WAG calls on implementing bodies to involve young people in all activities intended to promote or implement WASH and climate adaptation strategies by actively engaging the National Youth Authority in all decision-making processes and programmes of action.

Additionally, full involvement of civil society groups would also ensure a bottom-up approach in implementing programmes of action and through indigenous groups, existing traditional knowledge regarding WASH based adaptation could be integrated into western scientific knowledge and methods.

Mr Commey said the two organisations recognises that both documents provide guiding framework for an integrated responses, which are linked to the national sustainable development priorities such as agriculture and food security, disaster preparedness and response themes, natural resource management, equitable social development and energy, as well as industrial and infrastructural development.

The NACCAS, he said for instance mentions the overwhelming effects of climate change on water availability with its negative effects on rainfall patterns and domestic water obtainability, as well as the impact on the health and sanitation sectors, which poses huge potential risk to human health, water and food insecurity, increased prevalence of water and vector-borne diseases, malnutrition and higher rates of respiratory and heat-related illnesses.

He said associated challenges such as flooding, improper disposal of solid waste that could choke drains and exacerbate flooding conditions, absence of proper flood management systems, drought, deforestation, long dry season and scanty rainfall, inadequate water harvesting systems among other things have also been listed in the documents.