Leaving Ghana to study in Australia was a momentous step for 35-year-old Salley Alhassan, but it was a great opportunity to expand his skills.
Salley has been in Australia since February 2015 after accepting an Australia Awards Scholarship. He’s now based in Brisbane studying full-time for his Master of Integrated Water Management
, delivered by the International Water Centre at the University of Queensland.
Improving water, sanitation and hygiene is the main focus of his work and studies. “One out five Ghanaians don’t have access to a toilet, and have to defecate in the open,” he says. The lack of sanitation is far more serious in the northern part of Ghana, where he hails from.
Globally, around 2.4 billion people (one third of the world’s population) do not have adequate sanitation. The World Bank estimates that a lack of access to sanitation and clean water costs the world US$260 billion annually, and women and children especially suffer major health impacts as a result. The United Nations’ World Toilet Day is designed to highlight these issues.
Salley says that while Ghana has made significant improvements to its water supplies, about five million of the country’s 25.7 million people are still drinking unsafe water. He says only about 15 per cent of the population has access to improved sanitation.
Salley believes his newly-gained skills and knowledge will be of great benefit to colleagues and farmers when he returns to Ghana after completing his study in Australia in July 2016. His interest in water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is a natural progression from his position in Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture, which began in 2003. He has done a lot of work with farmers in the rural areas of the upper east region of Northern Ghana.
Sometime in the future, he’d like a role with an international non-government organisation, or to move into policy work.
Australia is the first overseas country he’s travelled to, and he loves life in Brisbane. “Australian people are so welcoming,” he says. He’s made new friends and expanded his networks. While Salley misses his wife and four-year-old daughter who are still at home in Ghana, he knows the long-term benefits of his scholarship will make this sacrifice worthwhile.
This year’s theme for World Water Day
on 22 March is Better Water, Better Jobs.
The Australian Aid Program aligns water-related work with the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs
)—specifically Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
The Australian aid program makes increased access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene
(WASH) a priority, working directly with governments in developing countries and fragile states in the Indo-Pacific. Australian aid is currently implementing innovative WASH activities directly with communities and supporting multilateral global programs to assist governments to reform policy, investments and the capacity of institutions.
The aid program also equips individuals like Australia Awards recipient Salley Alhassan to take on better jobs. From 2000 – 2015 our aid funded more than 200 post-graduate scholarships in water-related fields for emerging WASH leaders. We offer awards recipients ongoing professional development through our alumni associations and assistance to attend events such as the WASH Futures Conference
and the International RiverSymposium