Accra – July 19 2017 – The Sanitation Challenge for Ghana (SC4Gh) first Learning and Practice Convening (LPC) session was a huge success. The session ended on a good note with great impressions expressed by participants drawn from the 17 MMDAs, partner organisations and wide range of high level national stakeholders.

Clearly the purpose of  the LPC, which was to create a platform for experience sharing and to generate ideas, renew sustained buy in from key stakeholders and initiate steps for mainstreaming SC4Gh in development planning at the local level, appeared to have been on point.

The first impression and demonstration of government commitment was expressed by Hon. Kofi Adda, Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, when he stated “It is gratifying to note that 17 MMDAs who met the minimum condition for stage 2 and vying for the ultimate (GBP 1.285million Dignified City Award) are teaming up with citizens, private sector and non-state actors, innovators and solvers to implement locally owned solutions. I personally wish all MMDAs were on board to ensure that sustainable sanitation services are available and affordable for everyone living in Ghana. We will forge partnerships and work towards generating the needed resources to scale this initiative across the 216 MMDAs so as to make sanitation and the president’s ‘toilet for all’ vision, a reality.”

The enthusiastic participating newly appointed Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) acknowledged the great orientation and knowledge obtained from the LPC platform and pledged full support for the project. They all reassured their teams of their respective resolve to provide the needed leadership to boost their Assemblies’ chances and possibilities of winning the competition. Some of the MMDCEs expressed their overall impressions at the end of the two-day session as follows:

  • “Before we got here I thought this was something for the technocrats; but we came here and I have realised that perhaps if this is a rod the heaviest side rest on the shoulders of the political actors because we have to facilitate for successful implementation of the programme. We have to resource our technical people and I can assure you that Ahanta West will come first. We thank you for the invitation and I think this is a good thing and we have every good reason to support it”.– DCE, Ahanta West District Assembly;
  • “Actually I have learnt a lot from this event and I have to say a big thank you to my technocrats because we won in the first stage of the competition. There is a novelty I’ll like to bring to my people using this award. We have a challenge, we have chieftaincy problem in Bimbilla and I want to use this SC4Gh Award to bring peace to the area. –that is the novelty. I’ll keep the rest to my chest so we’ll be able to win the ultimate prize” – DCE, Nanumba North District Assembly
  • “Honestly, when I was coming here I didn’t know much about the SC4Gh but my coming has given me the insight and like my colleagues indicated we have been able to make it among the 17 MMDAS and I’m challenging the team to make sure the ultimate award goes to the west because in Ghana they say the best comes from the west. – DCE, Prestia Huni Valley District Assembly
  • “Actually when we were coming here some of us were very green and we sat at the back to listen to the big boys but we realised the competition is not for the swift. Coming from the Minister’s municipality we will strive to win the award. I should say thank you to my technocrats – back in the office they have come to me asking for resources for the SC4Gh and I told them there is no money but now I’ll begin to reconsider when we get back” – MCE Kassena Nankana Municipal Assembly
  • “Before coming to this programme we were working on what I term ‘operation keep the city clean’ – but the emphasis was more on solid waste but I admit that with this 2-day peer review process I’m going to emphasise on liquid waste. Kumasi is not going to be second, Kumasi will be first! One thing I’ve learnt from here is making money out of waste so our attention will go in this direction. We also need to learn lessons from other countries.” – MCE, Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly
  • “There is the saying that education starts from the cradle to the grave – so man does not stop learning. We have learnt a lot in the 2-day event. I’m happy we are part of the competition and happy that this competition is giving us the opportunity to transform our waste into resources. I thank my team for the work done so far and happy for this learning and sharing opportunity” – MCE Mampong Municipal Assembly
  • “The 2-day session has been very useful; we appreciate the knowledge of the resource persons. I commend my team – our presentation was brief and straight to the point. Our focal area is a deprived area and we are going to put our ideas together so that when the results come out Awutu Senya would come up tops” – MCE, Awutu Senya East Municipal Assembly
  • “I commend the organisers and I am happy that Kwahu East is part of the competition. I’m going to commit a lot of resources to the project and encourage the business communities in my area to invest more in the area of sanitation so that we can emerge as ultimate winners” – DCE, Kwahu East District Assembly
  • “This meeting has given me a lot of insight about sanitation and how to manage liquid waste in the cities. I’m sure my team and I will carry with us all the good lessons and experiences so that we will be able to manage our liquid waste effectively” – MCE, Ejisu Juabeng Municipal Assembly
  • “I’m sure we all know that money is core to the running of the Assemblies and until I came here I didn’t know that even if you engage in proper sanitation you can get returns out of it. I heard somebody saying that trash is cash. One other important thing I learnt is the issue of sustainability – that there is the need to budget for post construction so that the structures can last for generations. Also the need to identify and support the poor -, the case of KMA could really be useful. As we were second in the first stage of the competition this time we will be first.” DCE, Atiwa District Assembly

The Assemblies’ local SC4Gh teams were also impressed with the decision of the organisers to ensure the full participation of the political and administrative heads of the MMDAs. Samuel Ahiaku, the District Environmental Health Officer (DEHO) of Jasikan District Assembly stated, “Political support is critical for the implementation of the project and this workshop has hugely contributed to this with the participation of the MMDCEs. With this level of renewed political buy-in , when we get back we hope to speed up with partnership building and the implementation process. One thing I’ve gathered here is that learning from peers is really good for self-reflection and refocusing”. Ofori Arthur Eric, Planning Officer of Nanumba North also excited with the involvement of the MMDCEs indicated, “It was a good decision to invite the MMDCEs; usually when we come without them it is difficult getting them along when we go back. One other thing you could take on board is to involve the presiding members who are the heads of the general assembly”

Furthermore, responding to the quick evaluation question of summarising their overall impression of the workshop in one word at the end of the 2-day session, participants were wholly positive with the words; ‘insightful, educative, impressive, interactive, informative, learning-oriented, thought-provoking, great, fantastic, eye-opener, etc.

The LPC was organised by the SC4Gh team – MSWR, IRC, Maple and IMC Worldwide to enable MMDAs discuss common challenges and possible solutions and their direct impact on the SC4Gh implementation process. The main purpose was to, i) create a platform for sharing experiences, opportunities and challenges in the implementation of the SC4Gh; ii) enable peer review of activities being undertaken; iii) generate ideas for innovation and renew sustained buy in from key stakeholders; and iv) initiate steps for mainstreaming SC4Gh in development planning and composite budgeting at the MMDA level.

Impressed with the high level of political goodwill IRC on behalf of the organisers of the SC4Gh LPC expressed appreciation to the MSWR, OHLGS, MPs, MMDCEs, DPs, Partners and all participating MMDAs for the great turn out and vibrant discussions and peer reviews over the 2-day session. The MMDAs were reminded that the SC4Gh team will monitor how the lessons picked will be put to practice towards the ultimate award, the Dignified City Award of the SC4Gh.

Writer’s email: wumbei@ircwash.org

Great impressions mark end of first learning and practice session

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