Sheikh Salis Shaban is a renowned celebrated Islamic scholar, student, spiritual son, and grand servant and the “Khalipha”, spiritual representation of Sheikh Ibrahim Niass for Ghana, Togo and Benin. He stayed with Sheikh Ibrahim Niass from 1950-1960 and blessed to live in the same room with Sheikh Ibrahim Niass whiles serving him as his spiritual master. Globally, Sheikh Salis Shaban is acknowledged as the first to person to institute a global Mauled (Since1965–65 Years now) celebration in commemoration of Sheikh Ibrahim Niass whiles the latter was alive and providing the former the sole permission for same. Today the celebration is held everywhere in the world with Nigerian gathering over five million devotees for the commemoration of Sheikh Ibrahim Niass.
He is the Eminent Spiritual Cleric for Faidhatu Tijaniyya Ibrahimiya Council of Ghana, Togo & Benin with significant followers in Nigeria (Shaagamu,& Shaaki , ogun and Oyo State respectively). He has significant student representation in Holland, USA, Uk, Germany, Italy. In Ghana, he has over two million followers across, Volta region, Oti Region, Ashanti Region, Greater Accra Region, Central region and Northen part of Ghana with key strong influence in communities such as Nima, Hohoe, Asamenkase, Gyamasi, Asani, Banda, kpandai, Agona Swedro
SERVICE TO SHEIKH IBRAHIM NIASS
Sheikh Ibrahim Niass رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ, become the foremost Muslim leader of the 20th Century and beyond, The Revivalist, Spiritual Pivot for many world leaders and tremendously influencing many world affairs politically, socially, and spiritually and intellectually. All profound Awliyaahallah of his era, significantly come to pay spiritual allegiance and received Tarbiyya from him affirming his higer “Magaam” ranks and position which had become the perefect pathway to experiencing and achieving the symptoms and contagions of “Maarifatullah”, devine perection of Allah.
Conceivably, this is the Gnostic and Grand Saint that Fadeelatush Sheikh Moahmmed Salis Shaban حفظه الله was blessed to have wholeheartedly served him intimately in his room, learnt from him as a worthy student till he became a scholar and spiritual luminary who received his traits from spiritual training and mastered “tarbiyya’ till he become what he become as a spiritual encyclopedia par excellence. Characteristically as it was, at night when the whole world is as-sleep, Sheikh Salis Shaban حفظه الله will spend his entire night with Sheikh Ibrahim Niass رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ alone in complete servitude. Sheikh Salis Shaban حفظه الله serving his master, and teacher Sheikh Ibrahim Niass رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ , whiles the latter expresses his infatuations and obsessions of love for his master, divine maestro, The Holy Prophet Mohammed صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ through the medium of Zikir, Swalawat, and anthologies. He regularly stood over Sheikh Ibrahim Niass رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ in the darkness of the night to fan off heat over the resting Sheikh Ibrahim Naiss wether in the state of awakening or peacefully taken.
his respite till the day the fajr, prayer times. Meanwhile during the cold season and night, Sheikh Salis Shaban حفظه الله, would be conisitently massaging all over the body of the Sheikhul Islam, till the prayer time at dawn.
Shiekh Salis Shaban حفظه الله tirelessly held the lamb that provided the light at nights while Sheikh Ibrahim Niass رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ Niass wrote multiple pages enclosed in the “Ad- Dawawwin As-Sit” ( a countless anthologies of poems which was completed in 1959- (1379 AH) ). He, Sheikh Salis Shaban حفظه الله indeed witnessed the writing of the blessed “Diwaani”, which consist of several books of various “dawaawin” in praise of the holy Prophet Mohammed صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ .
In consequence to this, Sheikh Ibrahim Niass رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ declared Sheikh Salis Shaban حفظه الله as his spiritual son “Ibn Ruhi” and implored all his children to acknowledge and recognize in toto as such. According to Sheikh Salis Shaban حفظه الله, he explained that when his beloved biological father, presented him to Sheikh Ibrahim Niass رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ saying, this is my son, I am presenting him to you from the bottom of my heart and soul, Sheikh Ibrahim Niass رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ simoultaneously responded, Salis is my son, Salis is my son, Salis is my son but Allah made you to give birth to him for me. To which, Sheikh Abdulrahman Shaban رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ wholeheartedly accepted instantly.
In 1965 Sheikh Ibrahim Niass رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ made a very profound declaration on Sheikh Mohameed Salis Shaban حفظه الله in Ghana, during his visit, something that demands deep pondering and reflection; He said, “’Sheikh Salis Shaban حفظه الله, is my khalifah, I love whoever loves him, I love whatever he loves, even if he loves a dog or chicken, I Sheikh Ibrahim Niass رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ loves it too. Whosoever sees him in a dream or awake has indeed seen me. Whoever, he prays for, it is I that prayed for him/her directly’’.
In terms of his mission, Sheikh Salis Shaban حفظه الله spent his entire life completely devoted to the worhip of Allah, service of Islam and promotion of Faidhatu Tijaaniyya Ibrahimiyya and impacting many with his propagation and dissemination of the sublime message of the sufi path, transforming multitudes of Souls and hearts in the Republic of Ghana, Republic of Togo, Republic of Benin, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Republic of Niger, Republic of Chad, Republic of Cameroun, Republic of Burkina Faso and several places in Europe, America, Canada and beyond.
There have been many tributes and projections of ‘’Karaamat’’ of the ‘’Khalifatu Sheikh -wa- Khaadimuhu’, that has been shared by many virtous and trustworthy personalities, but it is expedient to take note that, two main themes emerged clearly in description of who Sheikh Salis Shaban is, his unparalleled love, knowledge and servitude of his spiritual father Sheikh, Alhaji Ibrahim Niass رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ. Secondly, his penchant desire for honesty, truthfulness as well as his formidable sense of aversion, and repugnance against all slightest sense of falsehood, and lies makes him to walk in the light, guidance perfectly exemplified and amplified in the entire life and characteristics of the Holy Prophet Mohammed صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ as the “Swaadiqul -Al-Amin”, the truthful and most trustworthy.
Sheikh Salis Shaban حفظه الله is indeed a precious gem in the path of Faidhatu Tijaaniyya Ibrahimiyya. Imam Hassan Aliyyu Cisse, رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ of blessed memory always describes Shaikh Salis Shaban حفظه الله as ‘Baqiyyatus-Swalaf’, ‘The Remnant of the Predecessors of the Pioneers of the Faidha’’ to which, Imam Tijani Cisse, the Current Imam of Faidhatu Tijaniyya Ibrahimiyya all over the World حفظه الله added to him the title ‘’Barkatul Khalahf’ the Blessing of the Present and Later Generations of the Faidatu Tijaniya Ibrahimiyya.
“Shaikh Salis Shaban حفظه الله is indeed among those whenever we see instantaneously reminds us of Shaikh Ibrahim Niass رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ .The life of Sheikh Salis Shaban حفظه الله is a source of strength and blessing for the entire fellowship of Faidhatu-Tijaniyaa Ibrahimiyya globally.” Imam Tijaani Cisse حفظ الله
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Accra, a city of weeds! Tackling our culture of environmental neglect!
With so much biting, unrestrained and sometimes even cruel criticisms in the Ghanaian media, about every action and inaction of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s administration, I really wonder what those expressing concern about a new ‘culture of silence’ actually mean.
Anyway, in my view, if anything, what is much more worrying, what needs to be talked about, but which is being ignored, is what can be termed ‘a culture of negligence’.
I mean specifically, a ‘culture of environmental neglect’, defined by one source as “failure to care for and protect one’s surroundings”.
Shouldn’t everybody be concerned, for example, that our capital city is practically being swallowed by weeds?
Why should the fertility of our soils be demonstrated by the amount of weeds flourishing everywhere in our country’s principal city?
One person who has shown that he does care is the Greater Accra Regional Minister Henry Quartey.
But are people complementing his efforts, by at least brightening their own corner?
Isn’t it the culture of negligence that has seen Ghana losing so much forest cover that now the Government has had to launch a crash tree-planting project to restore our forests?
Thus just over a month ago, on June 11, the ‘Green Ghana Day’ initiative, aimed at planting five million trees all over the country, took the country by storm.
But after the tree-planting, what next?
Secondly, the topical news currently is the amazing feat chalked by Mr. Quartey, getting the onion traders at the Agbogbloshie Market to relocate to Adjen Kotoku, near Amasaman, as part of his laudable ‘Let’s make Accra work’ drive.
It is evident that others operating there will also have to relocate.
But after the relocations, what next?
What is to be done with the vacated area at Agbogbloshie?
I have one answer to both questions, a suggestion: why not develop the Agbogbloshie site into a green area, a park for the capital, to fulfil a long-felt need for an Accra City Park?
There is need for one, because clearly, the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park, for instance, has a different purpose.
It would also serve to improve the Accra aura spectacularly as the backdrop to the developments in the city, the magnificent structures springing up all over.
Indeed, creating parks all over the country would be a fitting complement to the ‘Green Ghana’ programme.
Of course the initiators of the ‘Green Ghana’, and the Minister, may have plans for the next phase.
However, I’m hoping that the Government, and other stakeholders, will give consideration to my idea of converting Agbogbloshie into a park befitting Ghana’s First City.
It also seems to me that now more than ever, as I have written a number of times, the Department of Parks and Gardens needs to be revived and resourced to play a lead role in the beautification of the capital city and other places.
As I have pointed out in this space, even in London which is seen as a very commercial city, surprisingly, a few minutes’ walk left or right, away from the busy famous shopping street, Oxford Street, will take one to a park, including areas with seats to rest shopping-weary legs.
By one estimate there are as many as 25 parks in London, all phenomenal ones!
Again, South Korea where land for development is scarce and their capital, Seoul, surrounded by mountains, despite that, they have managed to decorate their streets with plants and flowers.
They have flowers in baskets hanging from the lampposts.
The neglect of Accra’s spaces, especially with central reservations and road shoulders teeming with weeds, is bewildering – and shameful.
A few days ago, going around the city, what I saw confirmed that nothing has changed since the last time this column drew attention to the messy state of many Accra streets, including the N1, the George Walker Bush Highway: with a litter-strewn median and broken railings.
Regarding the Tetteh Quarshie Roundabout, how can this prime site and its environs be allowed to look like a weeds emporium?
Another example of the deplorable sights was the Ceremonial Route right from Legon, through the ’37 Military Hospital, past Jubilee House to the Ako-Adjei Interchange.
The picture from the Ako-Adjei past the Nima Police Station and the Paloma Restaurant environs to the Kwame Nkrumah Circle was no better.
Unbelievably, on the High Street, both sides of that prestigiously-named thoroughfare were sprouting weeds, from the Courts Complex, through the Arts Centre to the open space in front of the General Post Office (GPO).
Most disappointing of all, even the fenced off mini spaces directly opposite the Bank of Ghana and the old office of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, as well as that in front of the GPO, were all overgrown with weeds! Shocking!
Why has our capital become a city of weeds, as if Ghana is aiming to export weeds?
At Dansoman Estate, although I was happy to observe some saplings planted in the central reservation of the General Acheampong High Street, being nursed to grow into decorative trees, there was cause for concern.
Unbelievably, the Theresa Amerley Tagoe memorial roundabout, inaugurated with fanfare just last November, is displaying lots of weeds, one more evidence of the culture of neglect!
So I ask again: Why has the Department of Parks and Gardens been put on the back burner at a period when their expertise is needed as never before?
At least in the past we felt its presence because we used to see its staff busy at work, usually tending the medians.
Why does it seem that we revel in the unkempt appearance of the nation’s capital?
Mr. Quartey, please bring on board the Department of Parks and Gardens!
Furthermore, Accra-dwellers need to appreciate that it will take a collective effort to give the capital the ambience worthy of a metropolis – and undoubtedly the rest of the country will take their cue from Accra.
Covid-19: fear or stigma? Tales of two worlds
Stigmatization and discrimination against survivors of COVID-19 and their relatives have been widespread and a huge barrier affecting response to the pandemic.
This stigma and discrimination have been highly fuelled by misconceptions, confusions and fear of contracting the virus even from patients who have recovered and their families.
There are widespread misconceptions and fear of people who have recovered from Covid-19, as they are believed to pose a health risk to others. Survivors of Covid-19 are widely avoided and stigmatized.
Stigma and discrimination against survivors of Covid-19 and their families including children, remain a common belief and fear that those who have recovered remain infectious.
People who present symptoms of Covid-19, as well as those who have tested for it whether or not the result is positive, are frequently stigmatized.
Due to this, many people shy away from testing, calling for an ambulance when the need be, or even visit a health facility when they are ill, for fear of being associated with the condition.
This issue was frequently highlighted during the weekly briefings from the Ministry of Health, where survivors including influencers were brought in to share their testimonies of the double burden they faced as stigmatized survivors of Covid-19. Psychologists were also brought in to counsel survivors as well as their immediate families and the society as a whole.
In the wake of the fear and uncertainty that emerge during a pandemic, stigma and discrimination quickly follow, exposing people to violence, harassment and isolation, and hampering the delivery and uptake of essential health services and public health measures to control the pandemic.
The stigma that arises during a pandemic can exacerbate existing inequalities including those related to race, socioeconomic status, occupation, gender, immigration status and sexual orientation. The presence of stigma specific to certain health conditions has been observed in the HIV pandemic, the outbreaks of Ebola virus and Zika virus, and now the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the UNAIDS, the anticipation of stigma during a pandemic can interfere with the adoption of preventive measures, timely testing and adherence to treatment.
Many forms of stigma and discrimination have surfaced since the identification of COVID-19. Xenophobia has been directed at people thought to be responsible for “bringing” COVID-19 into countries. People who have recovered from COVID-19, essential workers such as health-care staff, and populations facing pre-existing stigma and discrimination.
Since the covid-19 pandemic was first reported in Ghana in March 2020, several measures including lockdowns, institution of preventive protocols such as social distancing, wearing of facemasks and ban on social gatherings were put in place to serve as guide for citizens to adhere to. Despite all the preventive measures, Ghana is among countries that have recorded high number of cases.
Globally, as of June 18, there have been 178,118,597 confirmed cases of COVID-19 including 3,864,180 deaths by the WHO and a total of 2,412,226,768 vaccine doses had been administered within same time.
In Ghana, as at June 24, according to the Ghana Health Service, a total of 95,642 confirmed cases with 93,288 recoveries have been recorded. A total of 795 deaths, 1,559 active cases and 166 new cases have also been recorded.
In all, 852,047 vaccines have been administered as at May 7, 2021 according to the Ghana Health Service COVID-19 official website when the first batch of 600,000 Astrazeneca vaccines were received by the country under the COVAX facility to mark the beginning of final roll out in March 202 Globally, as of June 18, there have been 178,118,597 confirmed cases of COVID-19 including 3,864,180 deaths by the WHO and a total of 2,412,226,768 vaccine doses had been administered within same time.
In Ghana, as at June 24, according to the Ghana Health Service, a total of 95,642 confirmed cases with 93,288 recoveries have been recorded. A total of 795 deaths, 1,559 active cases and 166 new cases have also been recorded.
In all, 852,047 vaccines have been administered Vaccines Administered as at May 7, 2021 according to the Ghana Health Service COVID-19 official website when the first batch of 600,000 Astrazeneca vaccines were received by the country under the COVAX facility to mark the beginning of final roll out in March 2021.
The concern for stigma and discrimination of those who contracted the diseases has become a huge worry to government and its agencies both national and international as it has the potential to derail containment efforts.
There have been unpleasant reports of people infected with covid-19 being stigmatiszed in their communities to the extent that landlords eject tenants who had contracted the virus from their homes while people refuse to sell to them simply because they have recovered from the disease or lost a relative or a friend to the disease.
Fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion or feeling caused by a threat of danger, pain, or harm, which is real or imagined whiles stigma involves negative attitudes or discrimination against someone based on health condition and many others.
While fear could be genuine, stigma on the other hand, could be associated with a lack of knowledge. Considering the hospitable nature of Ghanaians and one’s attitude towards each other, it becomes difficult to accept the fact that people are being stigmatized for having contracted the virus through no fault of theirs. Perhaps, they are stigmatizing either out of fear or lack of knowledge about the mode of contracting the virus and the fact that the disease is new, makes its dynamics very difficult to grasp with.
In boosting public confidence and the understanding of the COVID-19 preventive protocols and the vaccination, and to ensure that Ghanaians are convinced of the safety of the vaccines, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, his wife, the Vice President Dr Mohammud Bawumia and his spouse, took their first jab on March 1st followed by other top government officials, parliamentarians as well as leaders of the various political parties and institutions as well as the media to convince the general public, yet, some people were still skeptical.
Some prominent people including some members of parliament who contracted the virus, and recovered had their relatives, neighbours, and well-wishers visiting them to congratulate them for surviving the deadly disease especially when some of their contemporaries had succumbed to it.
In another instance, a farmer at Fankyenebra, a small farming community near Begoro in Eastern Region contracted the virus, admitted for two weeks at a local district hospital, on the day of discharge, some health workers followed him to his house in a kind of welcome party to sensitize the community to accept him and not to discriminate against him.
But his woes begun after the health officials who accompanied him to the house had left, everybody in the house immediately went to their rooms with their families, leaving him, his wife and children to their fate. The next day, the landlord called his wife and asked her to tell the husband to relocate to their family house since the other tenants in the house were not comfortable.
Three days later, as usual, his wife a porridge seller prepared the food for sale by the roadside, it was as if the entire community had travelled, nobody bought the porridge popularly known as “Koko” and eventually, the family fed on the Koko for their breakfast, lunch and supper, she painfully narrated, As I write this piece, the innocent woman’s Koko business has collapsed just because her husband contracted COVID-19.
Ironically, this woman is not ready to take the vaccine due to the many misconceptions and conspiracy theories about the vaccine. To her, her religion, which she did not disclose, abhorred vaccines and any form of injection and so in spite of the negative effects she has suffered from the COVID-19, she and her family were not ready to take any vaccine when made available to them.
This two scenarios present the tales of two worlds in the fight against a common enemy covid-19 and must be given the needed attention to ensure that each section of the public irrespective of class, creed, status and whatever inclination, we fight the enemy with one front of understanding.
A study conducted by Edumedia, a non-governmental organization in some communities in the Eastern Region on ‘What causes Stigma’ showed that people stigmatize based on fear for lack of knowledge about the disease and its mode of transmission and not to discriminate or cause pain to people who have been infected.
According to the Executive Director of Edumedia, Mr Kofi Amparbeng, most of the people interviewed in various communities made it clear that they shun the company of people infected and their families because of fear of contracting the disease. For the fact that they shared everything in common with such people, especially bathroom and toilet.
He said for the fact that high profile people like Ministers and other high ranking officials who contracted the diseases were not stigmatized and the ordinary persons were, gives ample evidence that stigmatization was not wide spread but rather depending on one’s location and one’s status.
He called for the need to have tailored made education to address specific individual problems to ensure a holistic approach to suppress the virus.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Africa Director recently cautioned in a virtual news conference that the “threat of a third wave” of covid-19 in Africa is real and rising calling for strengthening of all measures adopted by African government’s including Ghana to prevent a their wave at all cost.
She said “whiles many countries outside Africa have vaccinated a greater percentage of their highly-priority groups population, African countries are unable to even fulfill with purchase of the second dose for their high-risk groups”, she said.
According to experts, COVID-19 is not going to leave us any time soon, therefore, as a people, we have to adjust to the protocols as a new normal way of living, and that calls for concerted efforts of educating people especially in the rural areas and less privileged communities as to how to go about the new life in order not to contract the virus and also not to stigmatize people who have been infected or discriminate against them.
According to Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye Director General of the GHS Stigmatisation should not be given a place in the fight against covid-19 and that people only have to stay safe by abiding by the protocols and hat hiding for fear of being stigmatiszed rather posed public health threats.
For those stigmatizing and discriminating against others for having contracting the virus, we cannot blame them so much for their act but find a way of making people understand the issues in the context of their situation and background.
My close shave with COVID on two occasions gives me the conviction that people’s conditions such as their educational and economic background as well as the environment in which they find themselves in come to play when dealing with issues such as COVID-19, it might be fear of losing their livelihoods and even death that drives the reported cases of stigma.
Adapting evidence-based interventions from other pandemics like HIV response to reduce stigma and discrimination and integrating them into the global COVID-19 response is critical.
Immediate action will reduce the negative impact of COVID-19 on public health and safety and will strengthen our collective ability to control the pandemic by removing critical barriers to seeking care, testing, and adherence to guidelines on physical distancing and use of PPE.
Survival of the fittest: Rural women compete with animals for water
The lack of potable water in some rural communities in the Upper West Region has compelled women and children in such communities to compete with animals and reptiles for water for their domestic use.
Reports by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in some of these communities including Damwaataeon and Zanko Paani in the Wa West District and Kaleo-bile in the Wa East District under the “Mobilizing the Media for Fighting covid-19″ project being implemented by the Journalists for Human Rights in collaboration with the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA)”, revealed a very pathetic situation about access to water and other sanitation facilities as a right.
Madam Mercy Dasaa, a resident at Damwaateon, told the GNA that the streams which is their only source of water often dried-up during the harmattan leaving them with no choice than to dig dugouts before they could get water to fetch.
“Sometimes, if you are not lucky, you will dig and fetch some water and the time you will return the next day, animals would have come to drink and destroy it. You will have to dig again to fetch”, she said.
Madam Dasaa said the only borehole in the community could not produce enough water during the dry season to serve the water needs of the community with more than 500 inhabitants.
Madam Agnes Diesob, another resident of the community said the situation impeded their economic activities in the community, as the women had to spend several hours at the stream or borehole in search of water for their domestic use.
At Zanko Paani, residents said they currently resort to pond water for domestic purposes such as cooking and drinking as the only borehole in the community had broken down.
Madam Iddrisu Marriama, a resident told the GNA in an interview that they were aware of the health risks associated with drinking from the pond but they have no option.
She said the population of the community overweighed the single borehole, which caused it to easily break down due to the excessive pressure on the facility.
You have come to see our problem. Our borehole often breaks down, so we fetch water from this pond… unfortunately, we are sharing this pond with animals”, she said.
“I have been having stomach pains. I know it’s because of the water, but there is nothing I can do,” she emphasized.
Mr Iddrisu Daluo, another resident told the GNA that they have been contributing almost every month to fix the borehole, which had brought unnecessary financial pressure on the people.
At Kaleo-bile, a locally dug well and a nearby stream serve as the only source of water for residents in the community, which often get silted in the dry seasons making access to water a very big challenge for them.
According to members of the community, the situation has exposed them to waterborne diseases, thereby, affecting their productivity levels especially the women.
The problem of some rural communities is poor health coupled with limited access to potable water.
The situation is further compounded in the dry seasons during which women cover long distances and spending hours competing with animals for water from streams and other open sources.
According to the Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment Report, over one billion people across the World do not have access to adequate and safe drinking water facilities with women and children being disproportionately affected.
Water is an essential prerequisite for development and growth, however, the situation where rural women spend hours every day, collecting and carting water directly from streams in competition with animals is a worrying development challenge.
Water is an essential basic need that must be available in order for human beings to survive and this must not be a luxury to these communities particularly women and children as they run their daily household chores.
SANITATION AND HEALTH
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), safe and readily available water is important for public health, whether it is used for drinking, domestic use, food production or recreational purposes.
Improved water supply and sanitation, and better management of water resources, can boost countries’ economic growth and can contribute greatly to poverty reduction, it said.
Also, it estimated that globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with faeces, adding that contaminated water can transmit diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio.
Again, it said contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause 485,000 diarrheal deaths each year and that by 2025 half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.
In 2010, the UN General Assembly explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation saying; “Everyone has the right to sufficient, continuous, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water for personal and domestic use”.
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 6.1 calls for universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water.
The target is tracked with the indicator of “safely managed drinking water services” – drinking water from an improved water source that is located on premises, available when needed, and free from faecal and priority chemical contamination.
IMPROVED SANITATION BENEFITS
Benefits of improved sanitation extend well beyond reducing the risk of diarrhea according to the WHO.
It include reducing the spread of intestinal worms, schistosomiasis and trachoma which are neglected tropical diseases causing suffering for millions across the globe.
Again, it includes the severity and impact of malnutrition; promoting dignity and boosting safety, particularly among women and girls; promoting school attendance: girls’ school attendance is particularly boosted by the provision of separate sanitary facilities; and potential recovery of water, renewable energy and nutrients from faecal waste.
THE GHANA CONTEXT
Mr Eric Banye, Executive Director of Savannah Alliance Ghana noted that for many communities in Ghana, this target is far from reach.
“In Ghana, sharp geographic, socio-cultural and economic inequalities persist, not only between rural and urban areas but also in towns and cities where people living in low-income, informal, or illegal settlements usually have less access to improved sources of drinking-water than other residents”, he emphasized.
According to Mr Banye, the Sustainable Water Supply project is a dream comes true for the communities that were carefully selected in collaboration with the respective district assemblies.
He said the high rate of water borne diseases sometimes leading to deaths has therefore become a major concern for stakeholders, hence, the initiation of the Direct Aid Project (DAP).
THE DIRECT AID PROGRAMME
The Sustainable Water Supply Project is one of the projects funded by the Australian High Commission under the DAP, which is a flexible, small grants programme.
The project is being implemented directly by Savannah Alliance Ghana, a local NGO in the Upper West Region with support from Azumah Resources, a mineral exploration and mining company operating in the region.
The aim is to support projects with a strong development focus that contribute to inclusive, sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.
The primary objective of the DAP is to achieve a practical and tangible humanitarian or developmental outcome in vulnerable communities.
The areas include improving sanitation, waste services and facilities; improving services for people with disability or mental illness; strengthening accountability, transparency and good governance in the extractives sector; and promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls by supporting female-led organisations.
The projectdemonstrate consideration to gender and disability inclusion in the design and implementation by ensuring women and people with disabilities are consulted and included in the development of project proposals, as well as in their implementation.
The project seeks to ensure these beneficiary communities especially women, children and the physically challenged have access to potable water whilst their health status particularly with regards to waterborne diseases would also be improved.
This is expected to increase productivity as women, children and the physically challenged will now spend lesser hours in accessing and carting water from unsafe sources for their domestic use.
Mr Eric Banye, Executive Director of Savannah Alliance Ghana said the project would ensure the drilling of seven boreholes and also train and equip seven Water and Sanitation (WATSAN) Committees with skills on water facility management as well.
He said in the end, a total of 5,000 women would have access to potable water whilst long distances covered and time spent in accessing water would be significantly reduced to enhance productivity.
EQUITY AND INCLUSION
Mr Banye noted that in line with the Australia High Commission’s focus on equity and inclusion, the project had a strong inclusion and equity agenda.
“Women are fully involved in the site selection, drilling and management of the boreholes. The project also takes into consideration other vulnerable groupings including people with disability”, he said.
In all, the Executive Director of Savannah Alliance Ghana said seven rural communities were selected across fourdistricts in the Upper West Region to benefit from the project.
They include, Leli, Musama, and Konne-Kakala communities in the Nadowli-Kaleo District; Jangfiang and Zinye communities in the Wa East District, Bapila community in the Nandom Municipality and Orifan community in the Jirapa Municipality.
The DAP being implemented by the Savannah Alliance Ghana and funded by the Australian High Commission through the Sustainable Water Supply Project to ensure beneficiary communities have access to safe sources of drinking water and sanitation facilities is commendable and worth emulation.
This is because tackling rural water and sanitation accessibility challenges must be a concern for all and the necessary resources galvanized to drive the agenda.
Government is doing well through the Sustainable Water Management Project but it is not over until all rural communities gain access to safe and sustainable access to potable water.
Rural women also have equal rights and must not continue to compete for water with animals which puts their health and that of their families at risk.
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