In light of the recent Syrian refugee situation, it is refreshing to look back on a relatively recent effort, in which Ghana West Africa Missions (GWAM), along with the Rural Water Development Program (RWDP) of the church of Christ, has made an impact on those suffering as refugees over the past few years.
The violence which erupted in March 2011 as a result of the disputed presidential elections in Cote d’Ivoire (CDI) led to significant movements of refugees and asylum seekers from CDI into Ghana.
About 17,000 Ivorian entered Ghana in need of assistance and international protection. Of this number 46 % (7,820) were males while 54 % (9,180) were females; of the female population, approximately 40.2 % (3,690) were women of reproductive age. Women and children constituted the majority of this population and also the group that was most exposed to security risks and gender-based violence.
Their immediate protection; transportation for (refugees/asylum seekers and third-country nationals) from the border entry points to reception centers for registration demanded urgent attention and appropriate response mechanisms.
In addition, there was need for immediate medical screening and those with medical conditions were referred to hospitals for medical attention to save lives.
WATER, SANITATION AND HYGIENE
Under the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) funding was received, 19 boreholes to serve the population with potable drinking were constructed to augment the pipe borne water supply.
Additionally the Rural Water Development Program of Church of Christ (RWDP- CoC) and UNICEF also ensured that all camps were connected to the main supply line of the Ghana Water Company (GWC) so that 3,258 Ivorian refugees, in two camps, including nearly 1,350 children had better access to drinking water.
UNICEF along with RWDP and its partners also provided safe, hygienic, and gender-friendly Kumasi Ventilated Improved Pit (KVIP) facilities, equipped with hand washing with soap facilities (HWWS) for an additional 1,258 refugees including 458 children in the these camps. RWDP constructed two 12 seat KVIPs to help provide significant impact on the sanitation issues.
In addition, to increase the spirit of community participation in the camps, residents were encouraged to form sanitation committees to manage the sanitation in the camps. This improved the waste disposal mechanisms in the camps managed by camp residents.
GWAM IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Looking back, this effort is a good demonstration of cooperation with other organizations and agencies to achieve GWAM's focus goals - glorifying God by helping those in need of West Africa - especially women and children.
Today, Ghana West Africa Missions (GWAM), along with RWDP, are continually striving to build relationships with UNICEF, UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) and GWC in order to continue to improve the lives of those most vulnerable in West Africa.
By improving water and sanitation, people are allowed to be free to better pursue knowledge and understanding, which unlocks the potential to build hope for the future.