The Ministry for Sanitation, Madam Cecilia Abena Dapaah, has presented eight brand new pick-up vehicles and motorcycles to each of the eight Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in Kumasi.
The gesture was to equip the assemblies to embark on effective public sensitisation on issues pertaining to sanitation, and to help improve the sanitation situation in their various jurisdictions.
The presentation ceremony coincided with the observation of World Toilet Day, which fell last Friday, November 19.
The initiative followed the realisation that about 22% of the Ghanaian population still practice open defecation, while only 21% had access to improved sanitation, with some 8% still depending on various forms of unapproved toilet facilities such as bucket latrines.
Madam Cecilia Abena Dapaah expressed worry that landlords in the country valued mobile phones more than the constructing toilet facilities in their homes.
According to her, about 22% of the populace of the Ashanti Region still practiced open defecation, because of lack of household toilet facilities, which, she said, must be a concern for everyone, stressing that a safe toilet was a right for all Ghanaians, irrespective of one’s social or economic status.
She noted that lack of toilet facility, which leads to an unhygienic health environment, was a threat to life, hence, the need for every landlord to have a household toilet facility.
The Minister expressed the need to advocate for a toilet in our homes to stop open defecation, which was still being practised by a majority of the population.
She disclosed that the reason for the commemoration of the day was to ignite mass action against the indiscriminate handling and disposal of waste and its attendant effects on the environment and the health of the people.
She entreated everyone to reflect on the difference between life with a toilet at home or in school, and life without toilets in these environments, and made special reference to a day without a toilet in the life of a school child, especially the girl child, who is exposed to the spread of diseases from poor handling of waste, contaminated water bodies, food crops, and beaches.
She noted that, proper sanitation facilities were instrumental for women and girls during menstruation, as they needed space for washing, change, and dispose of their pads, and pointed out that girls who do not have access to decent toilets at home, or nearby, have to defecate in the open or use unsafe or unhygienic toilets that open them up to diseases, and at times even rape, as they have to share these facilities with boys, a situation the Minister said was not comfortable, embarrassing and risky.
She stated that it was an offence for homes not to have toilet facilities according to the bylaws of the assemblies.
Mr. Simon Osei Mensah, Ashanti Regional Minister, expressed the government’s commitment to combating the dangers of inadequate toilet facilities in households through the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources.
He disclosed that the seven municipalities in the Kumasi enclave were poised to achieve the 17th Sustainable Development Goal, and urged every concerned citizen to encourage one another to ensure that, “we have toilet facilities in our various homes towards the SDGS through public awareness and promotion of hygienic environments.”