For the first time in a decade, the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area-Sanitation and Waste Project (GAMA-SWP) has contributed to the reduction of open defecation in the region.
The project, which started in 2015 and funded by the World Bank, had so far helped reduce the number of persons who practised open defecation from the 2010 figure of 520,000 to 280,000 in 2021.
According to the 2021 Ghana Population and Housing Census conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), the Greater Accra Region, with a population of 4.5 million people, is currently the region with the least open defecation in Ghana.
The 2010 report by GSS puts the population of Greater Accra, with regard to open defecation, at 7.8 per cent, thus, the 2021 figure of 6.2 per cent saw a reduction of 1.8 per cent in 10 years.
Mr George Asiedu, GAMA-SWP, Project Co-ordinator, speaking to the Ghanaian Times on Friday described the development as a significant milestone and attributed it to the GAMA-SWP project.
Mr Asiedu said the work done by GAMA-SWP in Accra and the successes chalked was a justification for it to be replicated in all the 16 regions.
He said the GAMA-SWP was a $150 million World Bank funded project aimed at providing household toilets and clean water to low income communities in municipal and metropolitan assemblies in the Greater Accra Region.
Mr Asiedu told the Ghanaian Times that government secured funding from the World Bank in 2015 following the outbreak of cholera, which killed 200 people, with residents in the Greater Accra Region being the worst affected.
Mr Asiedu said at the inception of the project in 2015, the target was to provide 19,100 household toilets to 75, 000 people in five years, but by December 2020, 28,541 household toilets were provided to 172,000 people, almost double the original target.
On water provision, Mr Asiedu said that although 5,000 water facilities were anticipated from 2015-2020, the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), with the allocation of $50 million out of the $150 million, was able to make 10,040 new connections by December 2020.
He said the provision of water and toilets significantly helped Ghana in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, adding government was able to provide free water to low income communities because the beneficiaries were already connected by the GWCL.
When asked what the biggest achievements of GAMA-SWP were, he said aside the provision of household and institutional toilets, GAMA-SWP intervention prevented cholera outbreak for the past six years, ensured improvement in hygiene, as well as behavioural/attitudinal change.
In addition, Mr Asiedu said the overarching objective of GAMA-SWP was to improve access to good sanitation and water supply, management of environmental sanitation and the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG) of the United Nations, which relates to provision of good sanitation to all by 2030.
One other thing that made GAMA-SWP a success, Mr Asiedu observed, was the use of technology to build bio-digesters for beneficiaries instead of septic tanks.
He said unlike the septic tank, the bio-digester produces micro-organisms that feed on the fecal matter while the water goes into the soak pit.
Mr Asiedu advised that the bio-digester was meant for use by at most 10 people and that it could get full if many people used it.
The bio-digester, Mr Asiedu added, was suitable in communities with a good drainage system.
Touching on the additional $125 million World Bank funding for the provision of 30,000 household toilets in the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area (GKMA) from 2021-2024, Mr Asiedu said he was hopeful that by the time the project ended, 45,000 toilets would have been constructed.
He said because of the increasing demand for toilets and water facilities in the Greater Accra Region, the GAMA-SWP office was still working to meet the needs of the people.
BY MALIK SULLEMANA