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17.04.2012 Business & Finance

Poor Sanitation Costs Ghana GHC420 million each year

By GNA
Poor Sanitation Costs Ghana GHC420 million each year
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Accra, April 17, GNA – The World Bank's Water and Sanitation Programme (WBSP) on Tuesday said Ghana's economy loses 90 million dollars annually (GHC420 million), which is 1.6 per cent of GDP due to poor sanitation.

A WB report made available to the Ghana News Agency in Accra indicates that the majority (74 per cent) of these costs come from the annual premature deaths of 19,000 Ghanaians from diarrheal diseases, including 5,100 children, under the age of five, nearly 90 per cent of which is directly attributable to poor water, sanitation, and hygiene.

According to the report, a study of the Economic Impacts of Poor Sanitation in Africa shows that in Ghana health-related costs accounted for nearly 19% of the total economic costs, while access time and productivity losses accounted for about 7seven per cent.

The study also found 4.8 million Ghanaians have no latrine at all and defecate in the open, and that the poorest quintile is 22 times more likely to practice open defecation than the richest.

The report also revealed that 18 African countries are losing about 5.5 billion dollars every year due to poor sanitation. “These countries account for 448 million people, which is almost half of Africa's population.

"The annual economic losses due to poor sanitation are equivalent to between 1% and 2.5% of GDP.

"The true cost could be much higher: these analyses only deals with losses due to premature deaths, healthcare costs, losses in productivity, and time lost through the practice of open defecation.

According to the report, open defecation accounts for almost 2 billion dollars in annual losses in 18 countries..."more than 114 million people still defecate in the open in the 18 countries analyzed.”

“This is about half the number of people on the continent who have no latrine at all and defecate in the open and almost 24% of the total population in the countries surveyed.”

The report said the practice of open defecation in these countries would require about 23 million toilets to be built and used.

It said open defecation costs more per person than any other type of unimproved sanitation; each person without access to a toilet can spend up to 2.5 days a year finding a private location to defecate, resulting in losses totalling almost 500 million US dollars in access time annually due to open defecation for the 18 countries surveyed.

The report said women shoulder a huge proportion of this cost as they spend additional time accompanying young children or sick or elderly relatives to relieve themselves, as well as time spent finding a safe place for urination.

According to the report, the poorest people have to pay disproportionately more for the negative effects of poor sanitation.

The report also indicates that commitments monitoring carried out by countries, currently only five of the 18 countries analyzed invest more than 0.1per cent of GDP in sanitation.

These findings make a strong case for increased investments in sanitation, increased attention to the bottlenecks constraining delivery of sanitation services, specific pro-poor policies, and the elimination of open defecation, the report indicated.

GNA

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