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Stop converting household toilets into rental accommodation

BY: Kwame Asare Boadu
Nana Kwabena Dwomoh Sarpong

An environmentalist, Nana Kwabena Dwomo Sarpong, has called on Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to take steps to stop landlords from converting toilets in their homes into rental accommodation.

Nana Sarpong said the practice which was prevaiing mainly in the cities, was a disincentive to efforts towards eliminating open defecation and attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), which promises sanitation for all by 2030.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic last Thursday on the occasion of World Toilet Day, Nana Sarpong, who is the President of Friends of Rivers and Water Bodies, an environmental not-for-profit organisation, said it was untenable that district assembles were not able to enforce their own bye-laws on sanitation.

“Sanitation is basically a local assembly matter. People are paid to work and it is regrettable to find that some are sleeping on the job,” he said.

World Toilet Day is celebrated every November 19, with the aim to raising awareness of the 4.2 billion people around the world without access to proper toilet facilities.

The theme for this year’s celebration was, "Sustainable sanitation and climate change”.

The United Nations (UN) sought to use the day to re-emphasise the need for equal access to maintaining cleanliness and dealing with sewage.

Toilet importance

Describing toilet as one of the most important human needs, Nana Sarpong said it was regretable that many people overlooked its importance.

“Authorities and many of us as a people do not take interest in having decent toilet facilities and this is counter-productive and it is not surprising that open defecation is everywhere.

“As citizens we should practise good hygiene. It's a two-way affair; citizens have a role to play and so too are the authorities,” he said.

He said even though the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area Sanitation and Water Project (GAMA-SWP) was making some inroads in providing household toilets, there was still a long way to go.

Financing support

As of June this year, the GAMA-SWP had provided improved toilet facilities to over 225,960 low-income people in 28,245 households in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA).

In September, this year, the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved $125 million from the International Development Association for the GAMA SWP.

The extra funding was meant to support the government’s effort at reaching 550,000 people in low income urban communities in the GAMA and the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area (GKMA) with improved sanitation and water supply services.

Water connection

Nana Sarpong said inadequate toilet facilities had a correlation with water quality.

“This is because, for instance, when people defecate in the open, the faecal matter can be washed into rivers and streams,” he said.

He observed that the lack of proper sanitation facilities could present people with no choice but to drink water from contaminated sources.

On the theme of this year’s World Toilet Day, Nana Sarpong said there was a connection between sanitation and climate action.