Ghana, Accra: Owning Latrines “Makes us Fat” – Local Community

Generally, the main perceived advantages of latrine ownership are proximity/easy access and privacy. For the people of Gozakope in the Dangme West District of the Greater Accra Region however, ownership of household latrines means all of these plus massive improvements in their health status.

Raymond Kotoka Lusu, Chairman, Water and sanitation (WATSAN) Committee of Gozakope, has said the introduction of the Community Led Total sanitation (CLTS) approach, which has led to the construction of latrines in various households in the small settlement, has improved health tremendously.

“We used to have diarrhea and stomach problems but now we are growing fat,” Lusu told members of the Ghana WATSAN Journalists Network (GWJN) who took a field trip to the area recently to know at first hand the state of water sanitation and hygiene issues (WASH), as well as, the state of interventions by the Professional Network Association (ProNet) Accra, a partner of WaterAid Ghana.

About a year ago, ProNet Accra introduced CLTS to the Gozakope community located in the Asutwuare Sub-district of the Dangme West District. Hitherto, the community engaged in “free range” defecation. Men, women and children alike defecated in the bush.

A defecation map showed that sometimes the indigenes “did their own thing” close to water bodies and on hills where it was very easy for water to run off into water bodies. Also, they had satellite refuse dumps scattered all around. Though, they experienced health hazards and its attendant problems, they appeared oblivious to the need for alternatives.

Derick Abandoh, ProNet Accra Officer in charge of Hygiene, said the organisation introduced the CLTS approach to the community because it saw evidence of open defecation. Besides, its research proved that there had not been any previous funding of any projects relating to WASH in the community.

Upon entry, ProNet officials took the community through pre-triggering (getting to know the community), triggering (mapping defecation routes), post triggering and the walk of shame (leading the community members to the defecation site and holding discussions at the scene). All of these were supposed to alert the community about the unpleasant outcome of defecating in the open.

The construction of the latrines was undertaken by the community members themselves, using locally available material and local labour. Some of them have estimated the construction cost to be between GH¢70 and GH¢100 [US$ 49-70].

According to the people, the latrines are helping to keep flies away, leading to fewer disease germs being spread from place to place and there is less fecal seepage into water bodies. The result has been that there have been fewer diseases – less diarrhea, less worms, less cholera, and less typhoid fever.

Lamisi J. Dabire, Communication and Campaigns Officer of WaterAid, Ghana, said “All these monies came from their own pockets; it shows their commitment.” She added, “We want to bring the self-help spirit in the community up.”

ProNet has also been working to improve water supply situation in the area [by] putting iron removal plants in some boreholes to make the water safe for use.

Source: Public Agenda / Peace FM Online, 23 Oct 2009


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