Ms Anita Erskine, WaterAid Ghana Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Ambassador, has advocated increased investment in the provision of WASH facilities and services in hard-to-reach communities across the country.
According to her, it would ensure vulnerable communities, particularly adolescents, have access to basic safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene practices to enable them live dignified lives and focus on their education.
“In the areas where WaterAid has intervened, there has been a huge difference with improvement of livelihoods, school children, especially girls, are able to go to school without worrying about what happens during their menstruation and without having to walk miles to have clean drinking water.
Healthcare workers are able to have clean water to help pregnant women among others,” she said.
Ms Erskine was speaking to the media after a visit to some Sexual Health and Reproductive Education (SHARE) project areas in the Builsa North Municipality and the Kassena-Nankana West District of the Upper East Region.
SHARE which is a five-year project is being implemented by Right To Play, FAWA, FHI360 and WaterAid in partnership with Global Affairs Canada.
The aim is to employ gender transformative and rights-based approach to improve reproductive health of adolescents, particularly women and girls, to help prevent teenage pregnancy and child marriage.
The project seeks to build the capacity of healthcare workers, teachers, community members to provide sexual education to young people to increase health-related human rights by the marginalized and vulnerable rights-holders, particularly adolescent girls and young women.
The WASH Ambassador explained that limited access to comprehensive, age appropriate and sexuality education and lack of WASH remained a major challenge, especially in rural communities, which posed risks to children particularly girls.
Many girls within ages of 15 to 19 years in Ghana were either married or had started bearing children in the Upper East Region, thereby truncating their education and development.
Ms Erskine noted that apart the need for stakeholders and facilities to be equipped to provide sexual and reproductive education to young people to help them make informed decisions regarding their sexual lives, there was the need for adolescents to have access to WASH services.
She said empowering young people and maginalised communities was key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and underscored the need for policy decisions to prioritise WASH in underserved communities.