Towards total sanitation in the Bongo District, Ghana - Challenges & potential solutions

  • Seyram
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Towards total sanitation in the Bongo District, Ghana - Challenges & potential solutions

Twenty one members of the Bongo District Interagency Coordinating Committee on Sanitation in Ghana met under the auspices of the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance on 20th September 2018.
The meeting which was held at the District Assembly premises discussed the challenges faced by stakeholders as they work to eliminate open defecation in the district.
The following were the issues discussed at the meeting which was chaired by the District Coordinating Director in the person of Issifu M. Fawe:
1. District is currently facing an attitudinal change challenge evidenced by instances where rubbish is dropped on the floor by dustbins and people practicing open defecation behind public latrines. This particular challenge was linked to certain cultural beliefs that prevent sons and daughters in-laws from using the same toilet facilities with the mother and father in-laws.
2. Knowledge and material gaps. This was explained as the lack of understanding on the parts of people who still feel that provision of household toilets is government’s responsibility. The materials gap relates to people who are able to build their own toilets but are unable to do it the right way due to the use of unsustainable materials.
Potential solution: Participants were of the view that this challenge, which sees people getting fed up with having to re-build collapsed toilets arose from the past of subsidies and must be addressed through more sensitization.
3. Nature of soil is loose, resulting in collapsing pits. Innovations such as lining of pits with gallons have been found to be unsustainable as these pits fill up at a faster rate.
In certain instances, communities are triggered, pits are dug very fast, but decking takes a long time as people have to travel far to even get sticks for this. Officers on the field also need training on how this should be done. It is a gap.
In some communities, cutting of trees not allowed. The weight of concrete slabs where it can be afforded causes some pits to collapse.
The digni-loo latrine, a new innovation by Global Communities was cited as a good technology option which can be immediately used after triggering. Samples are however yet to be delivered for users in the district.
4. Lack of coordination among implementers. Some organisations are implementing sanitation projects in the district without the assembly’s involvement. Same implementers are adopting subsidy approach which affects the work of those going with the CLTS approach as communities do not understand why some people have support while others do not have.
5. Logistical challenges
Field officers whose duty it is to sensitise communities are unable to do so due to government’s inability to provide logistics such as motorbikes and their fueling.
Potential solution: The Bongo District Assembly indicated that the budget for sanitation has been doubled
6. Bongo District Assembly is unable to implement sanitation bye-laws because they have not been gazetted. The cost of gazetting the bye-laws is said to be prohibitive. As a result of this, houses are built without provision for toilets and the offenders cannot be prosecuted to serve as a deterrent.
Potential solution: On the way forward, it was revealed that this issue has been tabled as an agenda item for the next assembly meeting. The Regional Environmental Health Officer explained that gazetting of bye-laws now ends with the Regional Coordinating Council. He promised to get more information on the process and share with the DICCS.
7. Efforts of the district assembly are not yielding results. The assembly recently launched a CLTS project, pumping money into it with media coverage. The hope was for local leaders to replicate this in their communities. This however did not happen with lack of funds cited as the reason.
8. Sanitation financing.
Potential solution: It was proposed that concepts such as the Village Savings and Loans Associations which have been successful be adopted to promote the construction of household latrines.
Targeted subsidies which identify the poorest people must be used to ensure full coverage.
9. A case was made for learning from various communities the approaches/technical solutions they found to their problems.
To support this, the example was given of some communities which do not have thatch available for roofing but learnt from a building style adopted in a different district where buildings take the form of a dome with no roofing required. Adoption of this building style solved the problem of unavailability of materials to roof household toilets. The same style helped solve the problem of flies in toilets as it was built in the north and south directions, resulting in darkness as against the east and west directions in which the sun rises and sets. The discovery that flies were not a nuisance in toilets built this way was made during monitoring visits.
10. The use of tippy taps was being hampered by the effect of the sun on the gallons which break after a short period of time.
11. Challenge with availability of water for flushing WC toilets provided in schools with students resorting to open defecation.
Potential solution: The District Chief Executive who joined the meeting midway said on his part, he will ensure that budgetary allocations to WASH is increased. He admitted that it is not enough to make allocations, but it is necessary to ensure these allocations are disbursed for implementation. He said once central government releases funds, he is committed to timely release of funds. He also encouraged field workers to find time to monitor and follow up on the adoption of the right practices. He also called for motivation of field workers to they can give off their best.
As a first step in enforcing the bye-law on all houses having toilets, he reminded the District Environmental Health Officer to speed up an assignment to take stock of all houses within central Bongo without household toilets.

Programme Officer with WaterAid Ghana
I believe in WaterAid's vision of a world where everyone everywhere has access to safe WASH
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  • muench
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Re: Towards total sanitation in the Bongo District, Ghana - Challenges & potential solutions

Dear Seyram,

Thanks for this very practical list of issues and potential solutions for Bongo District in Ghana, and also Kassena Nankana West District in your other post here . Please continue to use this forum to keep us updating on how things pan out in those two districts.

I am just wondering what is the setup for your role with WaterAid in Ghana, i.e. are you located at one of the district local assemblies? Do you have an official advisory role for them or do you just drop in and out of the different processes? I know e.g. that GIZ (formerly CIM) has so-called "embedded experts" with local authorities. Does the WaterAid model work similarly in Ghana?

And how would you like to see SuSanA support you in your work? What can we do to help? One thing could be to give feedback via this discussion forum and to help with networking amongst actors in Ghana.

Regards,
Elisabeth

Community manager and chief moderator of this forum
funded via SEI project until January 2019 ( www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127 )

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
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