Iliasu and Issaka stand together outside their 2 month old Biofil toilet in Anyaa (just outside of Ghana’s capital, Accra

“When we were using public toilets, our community members suffered many health issues. Strong chemicals were used inside the toilet facility to try to keep it clean and free of infection. These chemicals were often dangerous to women’s health,” said Iliasu, a recipient of a Biofill toilet under the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for Health project in Ghana. “I am so grateful for these toilets; we just don’t know how to thank you.”

With support from USAID under the WASH for Health Project, and thanks to Global Communities’ partnership with Coca-Cola’s Water and Development Alliance (WADA), the construction of close to 100 water closet and Biofil toilets was successful in two peri-urban Ghanaian communities: Anyaa, just outside of Ghana’s capital Accra, and Apowa, outside of Takoradi. The project focuses on peri-urban and urban communities which were selected in partnership with the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs)—criteria for household participation include their access to land and their ability and evidence to pay a contribution of the toilet construction costs. Additionally, female-headed households and those with widows/ widowers are prioritized, as are landlord/landladies with water-related small businesses. Households registered by Global Communities were introduced to financial institutions as a support mechanism.

To reinforce a household’s investment in the construction of their toilet, families are required to contribute 60 percent of the cost (the amount ranges between $350 and $720) of the toilet of their choice to the process, while WASH for Health contributes the remaining balance of 40 percent ($285 - $480). It can take time to mobilize households and explain the benefits of owning a household toilet, let alone the time it takes to collect enough funds for construction. But through Global Communities’ continued financial support and effective behavioural change communication (BCC) campaign, progress has been made steadily and since the beginning of the project in March 2017, 95 toilets have already been constructed in both Anyaa and Apowa.

“We are happy and feeling very good!” Iliasu says. Before the WADA/Global Communities toilet intervention, his compound, housing 20 people, had to pay GHC 0.50 per person to use a public toilet 3-4 times a day. According to Iliasu, if someone had an upset stomach then they were out of luck– they would have to wait in a long queue for their turn. Iliasu and his friend, Issaka, happily report that with their new household toilet, “Using the toilet now is free. It doesn’t smell. It took less than one hour to construct. And best of all, we save water and money!”

Global Communities’ contribution towards the construction of water closets and Biofil toilets has greatly improved the sanitation and wellbeing of 750 people in Anyaa. Lila, a beneficiary who runs a primary school in Anyaa, learned of the project and pushed for the construction of two new toilets at her school. Before the project, Lila had actively but unsuccessfully sought ways to construct toilets for her 95 students – but the cost of the project was simply too expensive. A previous budget Lila was given for constructing one toilet would cost her more than GHC 10,000 (approximately $2,000) - an offer she said was “simply not an option.” With the support of Global Communities, Lila was able to construct two toilets for only GHC 4,000 (approximately $900), which to her was a shock, and it took under four hours to build. ‘‘I thought it would take days,” she said.

To further promote healthy sanitary practices throughout the country, Global Communities’ fundamental message to these communities is to practice good hygiene behaviours. These include the importance of hand-washing with soap under running water before eating and after defecating, and the appropriate care and maintenance of the facilities. Communities in Accra and Takoradi have successfully adopted these behaviours and are actively implementing and promoting them. “We use a portable sink to wash our hands with water we fetch from the well. Every two weeks, Rosina, the Project Lead, checks in with us. She teaches us how to wash our hands correctly, how to maintain and flush our toilet, how to keep it neat and clean, and it leaves us feeling very good,” reports Iliasu.

The enthusiasm and excitement regarding household toilets has generated so much interest in their communities that 25 more households in Anyaa have committed to constructing toilets in the next three months. One avid supporter is Lila who has been promoting the toilets around town - “The obvious economical and sanitary benefits speak for itself,” she explained. “Friends and strangers who heard about the project have called me from regions outside of Accra inquiring about the process of acquiring a toilet.” Lila’s eloquence and enthusiasm in advocating for toilets is truly motivational: “Everyone should have one. Let’s spread the word!”


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