The four-seater washroom facilty for the Asuohyiam District Assembly Basic School

In some communities in 21st century Ghana, pupils miss classes to attend to natures call and never return, for lack of toilet facilities in their schools. Some children and adults are still oblivious of the need for hand washing after visiting the toilet and before eating. And you are likely to go back home to ease yourself when you visit a loved one at a health facility, for lack of toilet facilities. To curb these disturbing realities, communities and developmental organizations need to collaborate and find sustainable solutions.

So as part of the USAID funded WASH for Health Project by Global Communities, rural communities are benefiting from various WASH interventions through the Small Grant Program. One of the five beneficiary communities in the Western region that exhibited exceptional commitment to the development of the community is Asuohyiam. This community, spearheaded by the headmaster of the Asuoahyiam District Assembly (D/A) basic school, Mr. Emmanuel Arthur, has constructed washrooms for the school. They went the extra mile to build a four-seater Ventilated-Improved Pit (VIP) latrine (washroom) instead of the proposed three, a urinal and purchased a water storage tank for handwashing to serve the over 600 pupils and staff.

The grant was awarded to the school to build a three-seater improved latrine. The grant of US$2,000 (GH¢8,836.40) catered for 75% of the cost of constructing the three-seater latrine for the school. The community member pledged their support and contributed GH¢3,651, approximately $826, which is the equivalent of 25% of the cost, to complete the project. Considering the population of the school, the community decided to include an additional seater and urinal (for both males and females) to the proposed latrine and purchased a water storage tank for hand-washing.

The Headmaster of the school, Mr. Emmanuel Arthur was excited about the grant and its foreseen impact of reducing absenteeism. “This support from USAID through Global Communities to build a latrine in the school is such a relief to me. Now pupils do not run away from school to attend nature’s call and not return” he said.

In preparation for the commencement of this project, a communal labor was organized to clear the site of weeds and trees for the construction of the facility. The trees felled were used for the roofing of the latrine. The show of solidarity and commitment towards the construction of an improved latrine for the Asuohyiam DA basic school by the community is remarkable.

The facility which took 13 months to construction commenced in April, 2018, with consistent monitoring by Global Communities, is fully functional and in use by the pupils and staff of Asuohyiam DA basic school.

Located in the Amenfi West District of the Western region with a population of about 1500, Asuohyiam is predominantly a cocoa farming community settled by people from various parts of Ghana and neighboring countries including Ivory Coast. The people are noted for their hospitality. The name Asuohyiam was coined from ‘Asuo hyia me’ meaning (I’m being met by river Asuo). That was a phrase constantly uttered by one of the early settlers who recounted his experience of crossing the Asuo River several times while he journeyed through the vast forest until arriving at a suitable settlement. This goes to prove their verve for going all lengths to get or be the best.

The Small Grants Program, which ended in September 2018, is a sub-component of the WASH for Health Project that supports local organizations to facilitate sustainable, innovative, community-driven projects that improve sanitation, water and hygiene for individuals, households and communities. The Program supports 75% of the proposed projects and awards a maximum of $2,000 (GH¢8,836.40) to successful applicants (organizations/groups), whilst the people contribute an additional 25%, to complete their proposed project within six months.

The Program, like WASH for Health, targeted communities in nine regions in Ghana; Greater Accra, Volta, Oti, Western, Western-North Central and Northern, Savannah and North East Regions. Nine communities, organizations and institutions of five (Western, Western-North, Central, Volta and Oti regions) were awarded grants.