23 November 2009

Ghana: Toilet is Serious Business - Deputy Minister

Accra — Imagine life without a toilet. Imagine the mess. Imagine the disease. This is why Hon Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), has called on Ghanains to treat the discussion of toilets as "serious business."

The Deputy Minister wants citizens to refrain from laughing about discussions centred on toilets and view it as an important topic for public discourse.

Life will be impossible without four activities - emptying of the bowels, breathing, drinking water and urinating, the Deputy Minister told a gathering at the Nima Cluster of Schools compound where he took part in a symbolic "Queue for Toilet" activity as part of the World Toilet Day which fell on Thursday November 19.

The day was organized jointly by the MLGRD, the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing in collaboration with organisations such as Water Aid Ghana. It was under the theme Stop Open defaecation, use toilets".

Mr Afriyie Ankrah also symbolically used the East Ayawaso Sub Metro (AMA) Toilet No 12B together with Dr Hanna Bissiw, a Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing.

Quoting latest official statistics published by the Joint Monitoring Platform (JMP), Mr Afriyie Ankrah said "Ghana's sanitation coverage stands at 11% at the end of 2008."

In other words, he said, "only 11% of Ghanaians have access to an improved latrine for defaecation...a latrine that confines faeces safely, which hygienically separates faeces from human contact..."

The 2000 Population and Housing Census estimated that more than 20% of Ghanaians do not have any form of latrines and therefore resort to open defaecation. The Census also estimated that 31.45% of households in Ghana use public latrines as compared to 8.5% using Water Closet. 22% use pit latrines while 6.9% utilize KVIP. Bucket or pan latrine serves 4% while 6.9% of the population attends nature's call in other people's houses.

According to the MLGRD's Environmental Sanitation Policy of 1999, at least 90% of the population should have access to acceptable domestic toilet while the remaining 10% should have access to hygienic public toilets.

Meanwhile, Mr Alexander Tetteh, Executive Director, Centre for Employment of Persons With Disabilities and a physically disabled person, has called for public toilets which are disability-friendly.

This was after he failed in an attempt to symbolically use the East Ayawaso Sub Metro (AMA) Toilet No 12B facility on World Toilet Day.

There was neither a ramp for his wheelchair to go over nor a seat for use. Only those who could squat could use it but this was impossible for a physically disabled person.

Miss Janet Lamisi Dabire, Communication and Campaign Officer of Water Aid Ghana, supported the deputy minister's call to treat toilet as serious business.

She said she was intrigued that people made fun of her anytime she called them to remind them of the World Toilet Day.

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