UNICEF in Ghana works with partners to promote good hygiene practices
Currently, the water and sanitation sector in Ghana focuses on initiatives like hand washing with soap, household water treatment safe storage and menstrual hygiene management. The Ghana Demographic and Health Survey reveals that while more than half of Ghanaian households have a designated place for washing hands, only about one household out of every five has water or other cleansing agents available at home.
Washing hands with soap is important. It is one of the most effective measures against diarrhoea and other sanitation- related illnesses. In recent years, following the Community-led Total Sanitation approach, nearly every new household’s latrine has a hand washing facility.
There has been little progress in attaining water hygiene. Safe drinking water sometimes gets contaminated at the point of use. According to research all types of drinking water sources in Ghana contain some amount of faecal matter. Alarmingly, less than 10 per cent of households treat their water at the point of use before drinking.
Where school girls are concerned, because the issue of menstrual hygiene management is not discussed publicly. About 95 per cent of girls have to miss school during their period
Even though a couple of WASH related institutions have shown an interest, most interventions so far have been restricted to school children, while the matter remains unresolved within communities.
There is weak coordination between various actors - the government, civil society organizations, private sector - which is a huge roadblock to achieving hygiene and sanitation targets.
UNICEF is working with partners in Ghana to promote hand washing with soap, menstrual hygiene management and safe water treatment.
UNICEF supports government to carry out staff training, development and distribution of information, communication materials and training community volunteers in hygiene promotion and monitoring. It also support the Government to implement approaches like school-led low-cost hand washing with soap initiatives and low-cost menstrual hygiene management facilities in target districts.
In addition, through communication for development, UNICEF works with partners to abolish the stigma and myths surrounding menstruation so that schoolgirls do not lose out on school during their period.
Other approaches that have been adopted include undertaking research studies to gather information for strengthening the hygiene system in Ghana, encouraging private sector to invest more in the hygiene sector and supporting the government to intensify public awareness of hygiene during emergencies such as floods, fires and disease outbreaks.
UNICEF in collaboration with the government launched a tippy-tap promotion campaign in schools which as substantially increased the practice of hand washing with soap.