World Toilet Day Marked
GHANAIANS yesterday joined the rest of the world to celebrate World Toilet Day under the theme; ‘Stop open defecation, Use Toilets’. World Toilet Day is set aside by the World Toilet Organisation to demand proper sanitation for people all over the world.
The Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, joined people in Accra to celebrate the occasion. He used the event to educate Ghanaians on the dangers of haphazard defecation and used a public toilet at Nima, the place where the celebration took place, to explain the essence of the need of the celebration due to the unhygienic state of the facility.
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Afriyie-Ankrah urged Ghanaians to try to make good use of the celebration and stop the practise of open defecation. He said the celebration seeks to highlight concerns about the sanitation situation in the country and create awareness to ensure behavioural change.
According to Mr. Afriyie-Ankrah, statistics published by Joint Monitoring Platform (JMP), Ghana’s sanitation coverage stands at 11% at the end of 2008. “This means, among others, that only 11% of Ghanaians have access to an improved latrine for defecation, that is a latrine that confines faeces safely which hygienically separates faeces from human contact, for example a latrine which is not opened and a latrine which does not breed flies”, he said.
He also said the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey report notes that 51% of Ghanaians use shared latrines, which, according to the JPM, are generally not accepted as improved facilities. Mr. Afriyie-Ankrah stressed that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has shown enough commitment in leading the efforts to implement the national sanitation action plan and commit funding to support the effective implementation of plans on a sustainable basis.
He said a lot has been done in the past few years to point to the fact that the government has shown stronger political commitment to raise the profile of sanitation and channel more investment into sanitation.
“Though we have chalked some successes, a lot more needs to be done, especially in the area of our attitude towards the environment as Ghanaians”, he said. According to the Deputy Minister of LGRD, due to non-adherence to the building code, which ensures developers or property owners provide household toilets, a lot more Ghanaians have resorted to the use of public toilets, which are primarily meant for transient populations.
He said given the increasing pressure on these public facilities, the situation is now such that they frequently become full and sometimes overflow, leading to their closure, thereby depriving users of this essential service.
According to Mr. Afriyie-Ankrah, the facilities always become messy, unhygienic and dirty, driving away users. He said sanitation, even though it is perceived as a private issue, has public health implications and therefore affects everybody.
“It should be everybody’s business to ensure that every household has a toilet facility”, he said. He stressed that the government alone cannot solve the sanitation problem and thus called on individuals to support the promotion of good sanitation and improved hygienic practices in Ghana.
Prior to the observation of World Toilet Day, most Ghanaians have been complaining of a lack of toilet facilities, but had had no response from the government. Ghanaians who had admitted to having public toilets in their areas have reported the unsanitary conditions of the places to government, but have so far not received any positive response.
City authorities in the country, as part of ways of solving the problems, criminalized the construction of residential facilities without toilets, but have failed to prosecute the offending property owners.