Sanitation is a development concern in Ghana, and there have been several efforts by governments and development partners to help address sanitation challenges. The solution has been varied, with government and donors using several strategies to improve access to toilets for poor and low-income communities.
UNICEF, as part of its objective to help reduce open defaecation and help improve the overall sanitation situation in some selected communities of Ghana, is assisting low-income households to acquire toilets through a collaboration with the ARB Apex Bank. ARB Apex Bank under this collaboration serves as the Fund Manager, with responsibility for managing and implementing the Basic Sanitation Fund (BSF).
The BSF is designed to help RCBs provide loans to clients to enable them construct ecofriendly toilets in their homes. The fund is also helping businesses engaged in the sanitation value chain to acquire loans to support their operations.
A high level meeting was organised by the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly (TMA) in Tamale to showcase overall successes in the support extended to Tamale Metropolis by UNICEF and the Netherlands Embassy in Ghana. The programme was also to hand over some facilities and inspect some of the completed toilets by clients.
The meeting was attended by His Excellency Ronald Gerard Strikker, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands to Ghana; Her Excellency Mrs. Anne-Claire Dufay, Country Representative of UNICEF; Mr. Kojo Mattah, Managing Director of ARB Apex Bank; representatives from UNICEF Ghana, and a representative of the Ministry of Sanitation.
The dignitaries paid a courtesy call on Hon. Alhaji Shani Alhassan Shaibu, Northern Regional Minister, and visited a sanitation fair that was held on the forecourt of Tamale Metropolitan Assembly.
Progress of work
Mr. Strikker expressed happiness with progress the fund has made, and was “particularly excited with the role ARB Apex Bank and Rural and Community Banks are playing to ensure sustainability of the Basic Sanitation Fund”.
He advised beneficiaries to “repay the loans to enable others to also benefit from them”.
On her part, Mrs. Dufay expressed her satisfaction in the work done by ARB Apex Bank and their network of Rural and Community Banks. She indicated that the fund, which is enabling clients to access loans through the RCBs in order to have toilets in their homes, is more dignifying than using public toilets or engaging in open defaecation.
The representative of the Sanitation Minister thanked the people of the Netherlands and UNICEF for supporting projects to help Ghana overcome sanitation challenges. He decried the limited access to toilet and sanitary pads and their effects on school attendance, especially for girls.
Programme to be expanded
In his address, Mr. Kojo Mattah-Managing Director of ARB Apex Bank, indicated that “the bank and its network of rural and community banks were happy to collaborate with UNICEF to support households and businesses in the area of sanitation”. He enumerated the successes achieved so far under the collaboration. The five participating banks being Tizaa, Bonzali, Avenor, Weto and Manya Krobo rural banks, which are working in the pilot locations of Tamale, Ashaiman and Ho municipalities – and have so far disbursed over GH¢1million in loans to 381 clients.
“With this, 323 toilets have been built and 38 are nearing completion. Those completed are providing access to toilets for over 2,000 people and have generated numerous employment opportunities,” Mr. Mattah added.
He announced that due to the moderate success recorded, the project had been expanded to Cape Coast Municipality and Elmina district. He said: “Discussions are underway to expand the programme to Kumasi, Kwadaso and Asokore Mampong Municipalities all in the Ashanti Region; and Krowor, Adenta, Ga North and Ga South Municipalities, all in the Greater Accra Region”.
Mr. Mattah assured UNICEF and its partners that ARB Apex Bank and the over-800 branches of rural banks are strategically positioned to manage “a Fund with a national character”.
He stressed the point that the problem of open defaecation is not only one for those who do not have access to toilets but is a collective problem; and therefore “ARB Apex Bank will continuously collaborate with UNICEF, government and other partners to remedy this national canker”.
The opening ceremony was followed by a visit to the Tamale Waste Stabilisation Pond, which was rehabilitated with funding from UNICEF to improve the treatment and disposal of waste. The Pond was officially handed over to the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly by the Ambassador of Netherlands to Ghana and the Country Representative of UNICEF.