Working towards a cleaner Ghana



Rural Sanitation

Major challenges affecting basic rural sanitation delivery includes lack of planning and coordination of programmes aimed at improving sanitation and this is due to limited staffing and resources for capacity building and implementation of programmes.

As at 2015, only one rural household out of ten were using improved household toilets while three in every ten of them practiced open defecation.

No district in Ghana has achieved an open defecation-free status

There is also limited private sector interest in rural basic sanitation since there is a perception that investments in rural sanitation businesses are not profitable. Improved sanitation technologies are quite expensive and there’s a lack of innovative financing mechanisms to support poor households to build latrines.

Construction of communal toilets also poses a major challenge since it does not motivate households toilets to build their own toilets. Communities in waterlogged environments are disaster-prone which make it difficult to access technologies that suit their peculiar environments.

Another challenge with rural basic sanitation in Ghana is the lack of an effective national monitoring and evaluation systems.


Urban Sanitation

As there is no clear urban basic sanitation strategy and plan in Ghana. Various approaches in urban basic sanitation are not effectively coordinated and monitored. Unlike rural communities, social mobilization for sanitation and hygiene promotion in urban settlements is quite complicated due to its cosmopolitan and multi-cultural nature.  However, sanitation is a social and public good whereby every citizen needs to participate in discussions and decisions that will benefit everybody.

The capacity of community leaders and local government institutions to effectively mobilize citizens for collective actions are also limited. Behavior change initiatives in urban basic sanitation promotion in the Ghana is very limited. Due to this, the country is confronted with high risk basic sanitation behaviors including open defecation. As at 2015, 8% of urban dwellers practiced open defecation in Ghana, same figure as in 2000. 

There are also limited affordable sanitation and waste treatment technology options for urban communities. The increasing number of slums and slum dwellers in urban areas and large cities is a major challenge.

Between 1990 and 2015, the country’s population equation reversed from 36% living in urban areas to 64% living in rural areas to 54% in urban and 46% rural (UNICEF and WHO, 2015) 

This trend has resulted in expansion of existing slums and creation of new ones with pressures on demand for basic sanitation services.



Rural Sanitation

UNICEF has been working with partners to promote behavior change rather than the direct supply of latrines or provision of subsidies. This is aimed at putting an end to open defecation and reducing dependence on government and external agencies for support in household and latrine construction. For instance, the adoption of the Rural Sanitation Model and Strategy places an emphasis on behavior change of community members.

UNICEF also partners the key stakeholders in mass media to draw attention to problem of open defecation and its direct or indirect linkages to the over health of community members and the country as a whole.

Through capacity building and training, UNICEF enables institutions and individuals to perform their implement initiative targeted at improving rural sanitation and monitor them effectively.

Esther Dagawie (16) outside her latrine in Lambussie, Ghana.

Urban Sanitation

UNICEF has been working to draw the attention of the private sector's interest into ending open defecation and making Ghana cleaner. UNICEF collaborated with SNV, a Dutch International Charity to introduce the concept of Village Savings and Loan Associations. These enable community members who cannot readily afford toilets to do so with a loan and pay at a later date. In the area of urban sanitation,

UNICEF works with government to implement sanitation models in three selected areas - Ashaiman in the Greater Accra region, Tamale in the Northern region and Ho in the Volta Region.

In December 2018, UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, the Embassy of the Netherlands and Apex Bank launched an affordable loan scheme called the Basic Sanitation Fund to enable businesses  develop more affordable sanitation products for households.