Equitable access to improved toilet facilities for communities and people across Ghana should be seen as a human right and not just a basic necessity, the Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Freda Prempeh has said.
She explained that since Ghana and the rest of the world viewed access to water as a human right issue, then access to toilet facilities and an end to open defecation should also be viewed as human right issue because they were all intricately linked.
“The provision of these services are an important strategy for poverty reduction and the lack of it negatively affects the quality of life and productivity of the population, the health of the people, tourism, retention of adolescent girls in school, water quality, food privacy and dignity especially for women,” she said.
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World Toilet Day
Freda Prempeh was speaking on Sunday (November 19, 2023) at the press launch of the 2023 World Toilet Day (WTD).
WTD is an official United Nations (UN) international observance day on November 19 to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis.
It addresses the need to have proper access to toilets and the significance of having good hygiene in our daily lifestyles.
It is a platform to raise awareness, inspire advocacy, create conversations related to good sanitation and how we all can do our bit in improving the scenario and demand action from our leadership at all levels.
There are 3.5 billion people still living without safely managed sanitation while about 419 million people still go to the toilet in the open according to the UN.
According to the Ghana Statistical Service, households practicing open defecation in Ghana stands at 17.7 per cent and those who have exclusive access to toilets are only 25.3 per cent.
The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Accelerating Change through Strategic Partnership: Every Contribution Counts.”
Activities planned to commemorate the day include Mini Community Durbar at Mpoase Community Park, media discussions, sensitisation activities, Commemoration by WASH stakeholders and partners across the country, statement on the floor of parliament and the reading of sanitation messages/ sermons in churches and mosques among others.
The minister, who is also the Member of Parliament for Tano North, said that the government through the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources had invested heavily in several projects that would help eradicate open defection and enhance safe sanitation practices.
“For example, At the end of the GAMA Project in December, 2020, the Project had delivered 48,641 improved household toilets, benefiting about 389,128 people and 406 improved and modern disability-friendly, gender sensitive institutional toilet facilities benefiting about 251,872 pupils,” she cited.
The project, she said, will also expand and rehabilitate the Asafo Sewerage System in Kumasi and provide an additional 42,000 household toilets and 129 institutional toilets in the Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi metropolitan areas respectively.
She indicated that the various interventions initiated by the government had led Ghana to make significant strides towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals on Water and Sanitation.
She explained that the population with access to improved toilet facilities, including shared toilets has also increased from 66 per cent to 80.8 per cent within the same period while the population with access to basic drinking water services has increased from 79 per cent in 2017/2018 to 87.7 per cent in 2021.
“Under the Greater Accra Sustainable Sanitation and Livelihoods Improvement Project (GASSLIP), 5000 Household toilets have been provided in the Greater Accra Region as well as 60 Institutional Toilet Facilities,” she said.
The Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources urged all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDA’s) to enforce their bye-laws on construction of toilets in private and public buildings and encouraged management of basic schools and health care facilities to follow suit.
“The Ministry therefore, wishes to appeal to our media fraternity, religious and traditional leaders to use their influence in society to sensitise their audience, followers, congregation and subjects respectively to stop open defecation and build their own toilets,”she added.