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Access to improved toilets is fundamental human right, Minister

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Toilets
Toilets

The government of Ghana considers access to improved toilets for every household as a fundamental human right, to be enjoyed by all, Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Freda Abena Prempeh, said on Monday.

Prempeh said the government is, therefore, determined to tackle the access to improved toilets for households as a key step towards eliminating open defaecation in the country.

The minister said this during the national commemoration of World Toilet Day, which falls annually on Nov. 19.

This year’s occasion was held under the global theme, “Accelerating Change for Safe Sanitation.” Ghana postponed the national commemoration to Monday, November 20

“The government of Ghana has enacted a series of comprehensive policies and initiatives. Recognizing sanitation as a fundamental human right as declared by the United Nations in July 2010, these frameworks aim to ensure access to clean and safe toilets for all citizens,” Prempeh stated.

She said one such initiative was the National Sanitation Campaign, launched in 2017, embodying the government’s commitment to set and work towards ambitious targets that would eventually eliminate open defecation and enhance improved sanitation infrastructure for Ghanaians.

The minister drew a direct link between access to improved toilets and public health, environmental sustainability, tourism, education, and economic development, stressing, “Access to clean toilets is a fundamental human right, which many in our communities lack access to.”

Prempeh indicated that the government’s focus in creating access to improved and clean toilets for households and institutions was to build thriving communities.

She stressed that clean toilets reduce the prevalence of infectious diseases, enhance the quality of life, and empower individuals, especially women and children, disproportionately affected by inadequate toilets in our communities, schools, commercial areas, and hospitals.

The minister lamented the low access to improved household toilets and the high incidence of open defecation in Ghana, describing the data as scary for the West African country. She added, “This lack of access poses severe challenges, impacting negatively on the health and dignity of our people.”

“Behind every statistic lies a human story. We are not just dealing with numbers; we are addressing the lived experiences of real people. Their stories, often marked by resilience and determination, underscore the urgency of our collective action and at all costs possible,” she stated.

Even though these numbers looked scary, the minister said they also served as a clarion call for individual and collective action.” ,

She, therefore, urged all stakeholders of the water, sanitation and hygiene sector and all Ghanaians to strengthen their collaboration with the government to create access to improved household and institutional toilets in the country and help to reduce and finally eliminate the menace of open defecation.

“Let this World Toilet Day be a catalyst for change. Let us foster strategic partnerships that accelerate transformation. Every contribution, no matter how small, counts in this collective endeavor. Together, we can build a future where access to clean toilets is not a privilege but a universal right,” Prempeh urged.

Ghana’s local theme for the 2023 World Toilet Day was, “”Accelerating Change Through Strategic Partnerships: Every Contribution Counts.”

The 2021 Population and Housing Census revealed that 17.7 percent of Ghanaians practice open defecation, and the coverage of improved household toilets stood at 25.3 percent.

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