Ghana has a growing population of 28 million people and is one of the most urbanised countries in Africa.
Almost half the country now lives in towns and cities, and of these only one fifth has access to improved sanitation services.
While poverty in Ghana is in decline, the challenges caused by rapid urbanisation are on the rise. Nearly half the population in Kumasi rely on public toilets, with only one toilet for every 1,000 people, and water services in low-income urban areas are often non-existent. This is having a massive knock-on effect on the population’s health, dignity and economic growth.
What are we doing to help?
We have worked in Ghana since 2010, improving water and sanitation services in Accra and Kumasi. In this time we’ve developed strong relationships with service providers and policy makers to improve water and sanitation services for the country’s poorest urban communities.
Where we work in Ghana
In Accra 60% of the urban population rely on public toilets, which can be unsafe and unhygienic, and open defecation happens in every district. We’ve worked with Ga West municipality to develop their sanitation strategy. We’re also working in the city’s schools to improve hygiene and sanitation, which will benefit pupils’ and teachers’ health and improve school attendance.
Over 40% of Kumasi’s population rely on public toilets, but there’s only one toilet available for every 1,000 people and these are usually dirty and unsafe. Open defecation is common and water services in low-income communities are often non-existent. We’ve worked closely with local government and businesses to provide alternatives, and improve sanitation in low-income communities and schools.
The Low-Income Customer Support Unit of Ghana Water I lead today was created under the direct influence of WSUP. The creation of the unit has given Ghana Water a more focused direction to better serve low-income consumers to increase access to drinking water. WSUP continually provides technical support to the unit without which it would have been difficult for the unit to meet such needs.
Key activities in Ghana
Building the capacity of water utilities
We’re working with Ghana Water Company Limited, advising on the formation of the Low Income Support Unit to find commercially viable ways to provide water to low-income districts. Engaging local communities is essential to its success, so community members are invited to join a management organisation which encourages local responsibility for sanitation issues.
Improving children’s well-being through better school facilities
Poor water quality, sanitation, and hygiene have a major impact on children’s health, and can limit their ability to attend school and be in a safe environment. We’re working with schools in the Ga West district of Accra and in Kumasi to provide toilet blocks and handwashing facilities for pupils and teachers, benefitting thousands of low-income residents in these areas. We’re also working in partnership with the Ministry of Education to ensure standard toilet designs allow for separate genders and disability. Our goal is to promote to a wider audience how these improved facilities benefit children’s health and school attendance.
Creating container-based sanitation solutions
In Kumasi we’ve set up a container-based sanitation business called Clean Team, which charges customers a monthly fee for providing a toilet and regularly collecting waste.
Container-based toilets contain a cartridge which stores waste, and these can be removed and easily transported to a waste treatment facility. These toilets can be put in houses and the business offers a safely-managed service at an affordable price. It’s a promising solution to urban sanitation challenges and we’re supporting efforts to make it affordable to even the lowest-income customers.
Increasing the number of toilets in compound housing
The use of public toilets has a huge impact on the city’s health, and is a big safety issue for vulnerable adults and children, especially at night.
We’re working to increase the number of compounds and households with toilets, and this includes growing the supply of toilets that are affordable for low-income customers. We have a training programme that helps artisans and toilet salespeople to work out the best way to sell more toilets in Accra. As we improve our understanding of this market we’re hoping to see a big growth in sales.
Since the advent of WSUP, particularly in Ga West, I see a stimulated and vibrant sanitation sector where toilet sales agents, environmental health officers and toilet manufacturers play a coordinated role to promote compound sanitation.
Our Urban Sanitation Research Initiative is being implemented in Ghana in partnership with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate, the Institute of Local Government Studies, and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
The programme is supported by aid from the UK government and seeks to generate research that delivers policy change in sanitation in Bangladesh, Ghana, and Kenya, leading to improved sanitation services for low-income customers.
To find out how you can support our work in Ghana, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +44 (0)20 7822 1867.