The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has said it is committed to partnering the government of Ghana in improving basic access to proper Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in the country.
The UNICEF representative in Ghana, Anne Claire Dufay, announced this at the first edition of the Tamale Sanitation Fair held in Tamale.
The fair, organised under the auspices of Tamale Metropolitan Assembly, was meant to provide an opportunity for local and foreign businesses, industries and educationists to interact with potential partners to promote Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
According to the UNICEF representative, to address the issue of poor sanitation in the country, an Urban Sanitation Fund by the UN has been instituted to enable more people to access the funds in order to embark on improved sanitation progarmmes in the country.
“Within one month of the fund being launched, about 163 Tamale households and six Tamale businesses already have accessed the loans; and a further 46 household loans were approved to commence the construction of toilet facilities, while about 20 household toilets have been completed and 25 are being built,” she said.
She noted that a survey conducted revealed that not enough people across Ghana have access to household toilets, and that one in five people use public toilets.
‘Here in the Northern Region, the figure stands at 57 percent – that is nearly three in five people resorting to use of a public toilet,” she said.
“UNICEF is aware that for so many people, although it is their practice, it is not their choice. Not only are both options dangerous and inconvenient, but the cost of using a public toilet in the long-term can far exceed the cost of having a household toilet,” she added.
She noted that it is these upfront costs which prevent so many people from acquiring toilet facilities in their homes.
The Northern Regional Coordinating Director, Alhaji Alhassan Issahaku, called on the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to implement the sanitation bye-laws to ensure access to toilet and sanitation facilities in all homes.
“With determination and commitment, we should be able to combat poor sanitation in the Metropolis and the country as a whole,” he said.
The Tamale Metropolitan Chief Executive, Musah Superior, noted that only 32 percent of indigenes in Tamale have access to latrines while 41 percent also practice open defection.
He called for a behavioural change approach to good sanitation practice in and around the Metropolis.
He also called on tenants to insist that their landlords provide toilet facilities in their homes to end open defecation.