Ghana’s Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources came up with a Rural Sanitation Model and Strategies (RSMS) to support rural communities with basic sanitation using the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) concept in efforts to eliminate open defecation. This approach has also been applied in the cities also with an emphasis on the low income urban communities. The project, Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) Sanitation and Water Project was launched to increase access to improved and affordable (from an average bill of $600 to about $50) sanitation and water supply facilities in the GAMA.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, open defecation is a common practice in our cities and rural communities. Poor water and sanitation facilities have been drivers of the vice in low-income communities. The GAMA project commenced in 2014, launched in 25 Districts, and completed its first phase in 2020.
A study found out that the majority of low-income urban communities could not afford the price of a household toilet which cost $600. The high cost of toilet facilities was a contributor to the practice of open defecation especially in Accra that is close to the beaches. There was a need to come up with interventions to increase access to sanitation and water supply in these low-income communities.
The GAMA project has benefited over 230,000 people in the low income communities, translating to increased coverage to household toilet facilities by 12%. There has been reduced outbreak of Cholera and waterborne diseases due as a result of improved environmental sanitation; household sanitation facilities and water pipe connections of over 282 kilometers. The project designed and implemented inclusive, gender-conscious and disability-friendly toilets in 260 schools with 406 units to make sure that the children are safe and confident to go to school whether they have disabilities and are guaranteed of menstruation hygiene. Through the project, two drainage systems on road highways and flood-prone areas in the GAMA area to the Central region were constructed.
The project has proven that improving environmental sanitation for the low-income communities improves dignity and makes their lives worth living. A comprehensive strategy/concept is needed to ensure a clean environment and that no one is left behind. Tailor-made sanitation solutions along the entire value chain are needed especially for the low income communities so that they enjoy proper services like other people of different economic status.