A staggering study conducted by the World Toilet Organisation has revealed that over 2.5 billion people in the world, representing 40% of the world's population, lack basic sanitation facilities.
The Ghana Statistical Service Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) report for 2006 further revealed that more than four million Ghanaians defecate in the bush, open drains, water bodies and fields, instead of using latrines.
The report indicates that open defecation is prevalent in all the ten regions of the country, while the national average is 24%.
The practice is mostly widespread in the Upper East Region, with about 82% of the people without any form of latrine, followed by the Upper West Region with about 79%, and the Northern Region about 73%.
This negative and barbaric practice is caused by the absence of clean households or public latrines, and ignorance of the harmful effects of open defecation to the society.
This came to light at a press conference to mark World Toilet Day in Accra.
November 19 every year is celebrated as World Toilet Day, a day on which the world is reminded that clean toilets are crucial to good health.
This year's World Toilet Day is being celebrated under the theme, “We Deserve Better”, which is more significant, because 2008 is the International Year of Sanitation (IYS), a year set aside for countries with low sanitation coverage, to accelerate their efforts and enhance their success at improving sanitation, and the overall quality of life.
To help avert this squalid sanitation situation in Ghana, the Coalition of NGOs In Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) is seriously calling for drastic and concerted efforts to make sure that most Ghanaians, if not everyone, has access to clean toilets, in view of the impact of toilets on the health and dignity of a people.
To this end, Ms Basilia Nanbigne, Communications Officer of CONIWAS, who read a speech on behalf of CONIWAS Chairman, Mr. Thomas Imoro Shayibu, also called on the various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies in the country, to enforce the building codes, which require that every house has a toilet facility, and to prosecute landlords and landladies who default in going by the law.
He again called on the government to task the appropriate agencies, to enforce all building regulations in Ghana, and ensure that all landlords and landladies adhere strictly to these regulations.
To realise our dream of achieving total sanitation, Mr. Imoro Shayibu asked all stakeholders to continue to explore the community-led total sanitation approach to latrine promotion, as a viable source of sanitation improvement in the country.
The government, development partners and other key players in the sanitation sector, should facilitate and provide concessionary loans and micro-credit schemes, in addition to subsidies, to enable more households own sanitary facilities, Mr. Imoro Shayibu urged.
“We call on the metropolitan, municipal, district and other local assemblies, as well as towns and communities, to embark on their own initiatives to promote and build toilet facilities in their homes, to reduce open defecation, to prevent its related sanitation crises,” he pleaded.
The Chairman of CONIWAS observed that improved sanitation services and hygiene practices need to be emphasised, as a major element for the building of human capability in the full poverty reduction strategy for Ghana.
Mr. Imoro Shayibu, therefore, added that investments in water and sanitation should be considered as investments for the nation for building human capability, to reduce the overall poverty of the country, stressing indeed “We Deserve Better.”