Lack of public/private toilet facilities in Accra

…as Ghana world celebrates World Toilet Day

By Bernice Bessey

A child comfortably doing his own thing in the storm drain at Avenor (left). Another culprit easing himself at the storm drain near Alajo. Picture by Eric Owiredu (right)

Poor sanitation and waste management remain the most challenged issue facing the Accra metropolis, although the city authority, Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), is doing all it could to save the situation from getting out of hand, since it imposes a serious health threat to residents of the city.

Lack of toilet facilities in many homes in Accra is something that cannot be ignored, and as a result, people form long queues early in the mornings to have access to the few existing public toilets, whereby putting extreme pressure on these facilities.

Although public toilets are built with the idea that they are to be used by visitors, shoppers, pedestrians etc., who would find themselves in places other than their homes, and need to use such facilities.

The worst part of the sanitation problem is that some people also prefer the beaches, bush, drains, and uncompleted buildings as places of convenience, while some defecate into polythene bags and dispose of them discriminately, especially into gutters/drains.

These irresponsible acts by adults in the country’s capital have been unfortunately passed onto the children, who in the absence of public toilet facilities and the fact that they cannot afford the fees charged for their use, practice these unhealthy habits.

This results in exposing residents of the city to endemic diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera.

The Accra File, as part of its mission to unveil sanitation issues in the metropolis, in order to mark World Toilet Day, visited some areas in the metropolis such as Chorkor, Jamestown, Nima, Maamobi, Ggbegbeise, Avenor, and Kwame Nkrumah Circle.

The File noted at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle and Avenor that in a broad daylight some traders, hawkers, drivers and their mates publicly defecate into the Odawna Storm Drain, although there are public toilets nearby, even in the Pedestrians Shopping Mall.

Many of the homes the file visited in the above-mentioned above areas revealed that either they do not have toilets, or use the banned pan latrines.

The AMA, this year, in collaboration with the World Bank, conducted a survey in the 11 sub-metros of the metropolis, which revealed that most of the homes in the metropolis don’t have toilets and bathroom facilities, thus compelling residents to use certain public places such as the beaches, gutters, parks and other open spaces as places of convenience and bathrooms.

The report further emphasised that such situations were often found in sprawling poor communities, which have dense populations and are not well planned.

Some people The File interviewed said they did not know about the World Toilet Day, but blamed landlords for converting toilets and washrooms into rooms for rental, and city authorities for not being proactive enough to hold homes and shops owners without toilets accountable.

Although the AMA made an effort to build a number of 42-seater toilets in all the sub-metros, the fact still remains that if people are not compelled to build toilet facilities in their homes, and landlords are not held responsible for the absence of such facilities, then people will continue to soil the environment.

The World Toilet Day is a day celebrated to create awareness of the global sanitation crisis, since about 4, 000 children die every from diarrhea, which is caused by contaminated water and poor sanitation practices.

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