Policy Note: Should Public Toilets Be Part of Urban Sanitation Solutions for Poor Families Living in Slums? April 2016. Emory University’s Center for Global Safe Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene.
Although households would prefer to have private facilities, conditions suggest that shared public toilets will, for the foreseeable future, continue to be the main available option for defecation in the slums of Accra. In this context, efforts are needed to improve existing and new public toilets to make them hygienic and safely managed in order to provide sanitation services that result in public health benefits.
Since public toilets do not meet the JMP criteria for an improved toilet, they also do not meet current government of Ghana standards. This in turn creates a disincentive for local governments to invest in public toilets and related safe management of the fecal sludge as part of their urban sanitation services.
The findings reported in this policy note lead to the recommendation that in order to protect the public health of families living in urban slums, the government of Ghana should reform their current policies regarding public toilets in urban slums despite not being recognized by the WHO/UNICEF JMP. Reforms to consider include formal recognition of public toilets as viable sanitation solutions, exploring possible partnerships with the private sector to finance, operate and maintain public toilets, development of regulations and standards for public toilets, and effective monitoring of compliance. In addition, the government should review financing approaches to ensure that sanitation services are affordable to all populations living in slum areas.