The government has been urged to make adequate budgetary allocation towards the provision of toilet facilities in all communities and public places to contribute to good sanitation practices and end open defecation.
Stakeholders at the 2021 World Toilet Day held at Bolgatanga, Upper East Region, expressed concern at the number of households and public places without latrines and toilet facilities, compelling residents to defecate in the open.
This, they said, created unsanitary conditions, polluted the environment and posed health hazards to the people as well as hindered the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals particularly goal six, which emphasizes access to water and sanitation by 2030.
The commemoration, which was held on the theme: “Valuing toilets,” was organized by Water Aid Ghana, water and sanitation focused organisation and brought together stakeholders, including community members, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) focal persons, district health directorate, district assemblies among others from the Bongo and Kassena-Nankana West Districts.
It is estimated that about 15 per cent of Ghanaians have access to improved sanitation and according to reports released by the World Health Organisation in 2015, the country loses about $290 million annually as a result of poor sanitation and $79 million to the menace of open defecation.
The report further indicated that about 3,600 Ghanaian children below the age of five die annually through diarrhoea caused by poor sanitation and open defecation.
Ms Seyram Ama Asomah, the Acting Programmes Manager, Water Aid Ghana, said toilet facilities were significant in every aspect of human life and called for concerted efforts to address the menace and ensure that every household and the public place had a decent latrine and toilet facilities.
She said apart from the fact that the absence of toilet facilities was having a toll on the growth of the girl child, especially in schools and other public places, the situation affected public health and contributed to stunting growth, among children in Ghana.
“There is a very high percentage of Ghanaians, who do not have toilet facilities at the household level and we have a high rate of open defecation going on in our communities.
So, our call is that government at all levels from national to districts, should pay attention and allocate budget towards addressing sanitation problems in our communities and not just allocating budget but also follow through and disburse the allocations in a timely manner so that the work can be done,” she added.
Mr Ebenezer Asomaning, the Bongo District WASH Focal Person, told GNA on the sidelines of the celebration that, about 60 communities in the district had been declared open defecation free while others were targeted to be declared.
Mr Asomaning indicated that the District Assembly would continue to invest in providing toilet and WASH facilities at public places and urged residents to make the provision of toilet facilities in their various homes a topmost priority, adding, “the toilet is as important as the kitchen, so we are encouraging them that when they are building their houses, they should build that one first.”
Mr Michael Awini, the Deputy Director, the Upper East Regional Coordinating Council, said Ghanaians needed to change their attitudes towards sanitation management and urged traditional authorities to join the fight to curb the menace.