Feature: Ghana employs subsidies, innovative financing to progress on sanitation SDGs

   According to the the Joint Monitoring Platform (JMP) of the World Health Organization and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF),  Ghana’s sanitation coverage at 25 percent, which is 12 percentage points higher than the 13 percent recorded in 2015.

   Low, as the coverage might still be, the change of about 12 percentage points within the first six years of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was significant and points to the success of efforts by stakeholders to meet the 2030 deadline of universal coverage of improved toilets for all households.

VP Mahamudu Bawumia addressing the opening session of the "All Systems Go Africa 22" symposium

Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia pledged Ghana’s continuous investment into the WASH sector to ensure universal access. 

   Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, who opened the “All Systems Go Africa 2022 Forum”, an international symposium on promoting effective water, sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) systems in Sub-Saharan Africa Wednesday, 19th October, said the government’s investments in water and sanitation had resulted in immense health benefits.

   Bawumia commended the World Bank-backed Sanitation and Water Program (SWP) in some low-income communities in Accra and Kumasi since 2015 for enabling many low-income households to construct improved toilet facilities and connect to safe drinking water sources for domestic use.

   “These improvements have resulted in very significant gains. For instance, we have not had a single case of cholera in the past six years,” Bawumia declared.

   The three-day symposium convened by the International Resource Center on WASH (IRC-WASH) is hosted by the government of Ghana and UNICEF.

   George Asiedu, Coordinator for the SWP, said in an interview during the symposium that innovative financing and government subsidies had been key drivers in the success of the World Bank-backed project.

   He said the first phase of the 150 million-dollar- SWP popularly called the GAMA (Greater Accra Metropolitan Area) project, had provided improved toilets for 33,385 households and institutions between 2015 and 2021, contributing to the improvement Ghana had recorded in its sanitation coverage under the SDGs.

Vice President Bawumia and Hon. Cecilia Dapaah interacting with some of the international delegates at the symposium

   He said these portable bio-digester toilets were economical in both cost and land use, priced at about 1,200 Ghana cedis (91.36 U.S. dollars), using shallow concrete boxes measuring between one-meter square and 1.5 meters square instead of large septic tanks as receptacles.

   Asiedu disclosed that the Ghanaian government, supported by the World Bank, absorbed 70 percent of the cost of the newly designed bio-digester toilets for the beneficiary households in low-income communities.

   For the households to raise their counterpart funding for the facilities, he said, “We introduced innovative saving schemes under which these households made daily contributions to a mobile money platform.”

   “Once the household contribution was complete, the system linked them to the service provider who constructed the facility. But in some cases, where the households were so poor and unable to raise the counterpart funding, the state absorbed the total cost,” the coordinator added.

 1.  Hon. Cecilia Abena Dapaah, Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, opened the “All Systems Go 2022 Africa Symposium”

2. Delegates from at least 30 countries in Africa and around the world attended the symposium

“We developed the capacity of the private sector to construct these facilities under the supervision of local assemblies as demand for household toilets increased,” he added.

   He said a similar model was also used to provide safe drinking water for low-income households, especially in areas worst hit by cholera during the last outbreak in 2014/2015.

   “And this project has contributed to preventing cholera outbreaks in Ghana since its inception in 2015 due to the reduction in open defecation in some low-income communities,” Asiedu stated.

   The coordinator added that “This is a system that has resulted in access to improved water and sanitation, and this is one of the biggest and fastest approaches which is yielding results. If a single project turns out over 30,000 household toilets, then it is significant.”

   Asiedu said that the success of Ghana’s SWP was good inspiration for other African countries gathered at the symposium to improve upon their sanitation coverage to achieve the SDGs on sanitation by 2030.

   Ghana’s SWP started after one of the worst cholera outbreaks in Ghana in 2014 and 2015, with more than 20,000 cases recorded.

Ing. George Asiedu stresses that African countries would be able to achieve universal access to WASH services through home-grown solutions backedby political will.

   The success of the first phase, made the World Bank provide additional  125 million dollars to support 30,000 households in Kumasi to construct portable household toilets and connect safe drinking water to their homes.

     It was the first time an African country hosted the international symposium organized by IRC-WASH which dialogues and fashions out strategies for achieving universal access to WASH services.

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