Lessons in Sanitation: Facilitating Government Engagement in Ghana

By Kofi Yeboah Communications and Social Media Officer, PSI Ghana

A functioning toilet for all. That’s the overarching goal of the PSI and its partners working in sanitation. But the path to getting there is complicated and fraught with obstacles, from a disconnected supply chain for toilet materials to getting local governments to share and reinforce their strategic approaches, which often include engaging the private sector.

Recently, in Ghana, Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) held the first meeting between two city municipalities: the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) and Ga West Municipal Assembly (GWMA). The meeting addressed the challenges for the “Toilet in Every Compound” project, which aims to increase access to sanitation for families living in multi-household dwellings, known as compounds.

Sanitation in Ghana

Photo Credit: SSD team | Don Awanantungo, Metro ESHD Director, leading group discussion on developing problem resolution plans for compound sanitation.

The project looks to create an enabling environment for improving access to sanitation by:

  • Equipping the Environmental Health and Sanitation Department to enforce sanitation by-laws. For example, there is a Ghanaian law that requires landlords to provide tenants with access to a toilet.
  • Using informational vans to build public awareness about the importance and availability of toilets for compounds.
  • Getting the government to encourage the private sector to get involved by providing financing, ensuring quality, building toilets, creating better products, and marketing their services and products better.

During the two-day offsite meeting, the municipal officials worked through challenges in their role in implementing the strategies, focusing on issues like: how to recruit more entrepreneurs; how to increase the number of people with access to improved compound sanitation; and how to motivate field environmental officers to enforce the sanitation by-laws in their communities.

The officials also identified challenges for consumers in accessing loans from banks, as well as the lack of innovative payment plans, and an inability of sanitation manufacturers to reach consumers effectively.

Collaborating towards Solutions

To address these challenges, the GWMA and KMA came up with a number of root causes and innovative solutions:

  • Since Environmental Health Officers do not always have the capacity to enforce the regulations, the officers need information that helps them explain the rules to the public and communicate effectively. KMA suggested that the field officers be motivated through allowances and award schemes to enhance the delivery of their work
  • Engage micro-finance institutions to offer loans to consumers for toilets, which will create competition in the banking sector, thereby reducing interest rates on loans.
  • The private sector should also be encouraged to build public toilets for communities and subsequently transfer ownership and operation to the community members, known as the Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) financing model.

The meeting ended with both KMA and GWMA offering timelines to ensure the execution of the suggested solutions in their respective cities, demonstrating how governments can successfully collaborate to solve the sanitation challenges in their country.

Sanitation Ghana

Photo Credit: SSD team | Mr. John Yaw Donkor, Deputy Director- waste management, Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) making a presentation on KMAs compound sanitation strategy.

Sanitation Service Delivery (SSD) is a USAID/West Africa regional urban sanitation project that is implemented by Population Services International (PSI) in collaboration with PATH and Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP). The project aims to improve sanitation outcomes by developing and testing scalable business models that engage private sector service providers and by contributing to the creation of a strong enabling environment for sanitation in West Africa. WSUP plays a vital role in supporting government partnership efforts to strengthen public support for improved sanitation and fecal sludge management (FSM) services in Ghana — an important aspect of the SSD.

Photo credit (banner): SSD team | Mr Samuel Atukwei Quaye, Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of the Ga West Municipal Assembly (GWMA), and GWMAs Finance team in group discussion with WSUP Ghana team.