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  • Mobilizing Community Action Mobilizing Community Action
  • Training Local Artisans Training Local Artisans
  • Building Latrines Building Latrines
  • Improving Community Sanitation Access Improving Community Sanitation Access


The Ghana WASH Project works hand-in-hand with communities to provide improved sanitation facilities for households, schools and health clinics. “Improved sanitation facilities” are structures that effectively separate human waste from human contact, such as a flush or pour-flush toilet that empties into a piped sewer system, or a septic tank or a pit latrine; it also includes ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines, or a pit latrine with a slab or composting toilet.


Sanitation access is a critical component to the health and well-being of communities.

Poor sanitation undercuts households and communities economically – sanitation-related diseases such as cholera or diarrhea force adults out of work and children out of school, lowering productivity and families’ incomes. There is also a social element to sanitation access — children, women and young girls are disproportionately affected by the lack of improved facilities. Children can become injured by falling into unsafe pits, young girls stay away from schools when going through their menstrual cycle, and, along with women, they can face both perceived and real threats when they have to venture into the bush, or even to public facilities late at night.

In rural communities across Ghana, the low proportion of rural population access to improved sanitation has remained almost unchanged over the past 20 years; access to improved sanitation has increased by only 4 percent overall in the past two decades – from 4 percent of the population in 1990 to 8 percent in 2010. Across the Western, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra and Volta Regions, improved sanitation coverage ranges between 7 and 25 percent.

The Ghana WASH Project Approach to Improving Household Sanitation

The level of communities’ access to improved sanitation facilities in Ghana’s rural areas remains severely low – 92 percent of households lack access to improved sanitation. Improved sanitation includes flush toilets, flush/pour-flush pit latrine, ventilated improved (VIP) latrine, pit latrine with slab, composting toilet, or facilities connected to pipe sewer systems of septic systems. Traditionally, many rural communities’ sanitation access is in the form of public and/or shared latrines, which are not considered “improved” facilities.

Achieving the Millennium Development Goal on sanitation for Ghana — to halve the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015 — would bring more than half (54 percent) of those living in rural communities into access with improved facilities. Achieving this goal would also require a targeted approach that would need to address the limited ability of needy households to afford improved sanitation facilities; in addition, the Ghana WASH Project, in a span of four years, aims to provide better quality facilities that ensure the longevity and sustainability of the facilities.

Therefore, the initial approach of the Ghana WASH Project was a high-subsidy strategy for household latrine provision in its targeted communities. The project opted to provide high-quality two latrine models: Kumasi Ventilated Improved Pits (KVIP) latrine and the Septic latrines. To ensure household affordability, the project employed a high-subsidy approach, taking on a slightly higher percentage of the cost-share for construction and artisanal fees.

In 2011, the project introduced a low-subsidy approach to household latrine construction marking a new phase – the project focused on providing additional, lower-cost models of household latrines (many with designs incorporating locally available materials, such as bamboo, thatch, wood, bricks). In addition, beneficiaries were required to provide a larger cost-share for the construction. This new approach marks an important move away from high subsidies, but contains elements of Community-Led Total Sanitation approach, which is the national strategy for sanitation development in Ghana.

The statistics and definition for improved sanitation is from Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: 2012 Update (2012). World Health Organization and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation.