Good news for Ghana sanitation efforts

Rotary and USAID are creating Tippy Tap devices to encourage good hygiene in remote areas. The devices use a simple foot paddle to tip a water container so people can safely wash their hands.

Rotary and USAID are creating Tippy Tap devices to encourage good hygiene in remote areas. The devices use a simple foot paddle to tip a water container so people can safely wash their hands.

By Mohamed Keita, RI staff, Administrative Coordinator, Areas of Focus, Programs and Grants

In January, a new government came into office in Ghana and set a different tone in addressing access to water and public sanitation in the country. President Nana Akufo-Addo announced the creation of a Ministry for Sanitation and Water Resources. It is the first time an administration has dedicated the centrepiece of an executive cabinet agency to public sanitation.

Ghanaian Rotarians who are involved in the rollout of the Rotary-USAID International H2O Collaboration, a $4 million initiative to support lasting, positive change to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) initiatives in Ghana, have welcomed the move.

“A major challenge facing our country is access to water to our people. Indeed, ‘water for all’ is one of our slogans for our 2016 manifesto,” the president declared in the press. “We also made a slogan ‘a toilet for all’ and these are matters we take very seriously.”

Previously, WASH related issues in Ghana fell under the purview of the Ministry of Water resources, Works and Housing. President Akufo-Addo said the change was necessary because of the major challenge facing the country with respect to access to water and sanitation.

Both local and international stakeholders involved in WASH activities in Ghana have applauded the creation of the new ministry. “This is like being alone in a boat which is struggling to go upstream and suddenly getting another person to help with the rowing,” Ako Adotei, chair of the Host Committee of the Rotary-USAID partnership in Ghana, told me. The partnership, which involves 36 Rotary clubs, Global Communities, USAID’s implementing partner in Ghana, and the government via the Community Water & Sanitation Agency (CWSA), is preparing to roll out activities to improve water and sanitation conditions in 165 rural communities.

Beyond simply building infrastructure, the Rotary-USAID partnership involves peculiar aspects that are unusual in most Rotarian projects: empowering communities in: a) financial self-sustainability to support infrastructure maintenance b) advocating with local authorities for equitable resource allocation c) developing innovation from lessons learned. To this effect, about two dozen Rotarians participated in a training workshop on advocacy in mid-January in the capital Accra.

In Ghana, the poorest communities rely on local government and outside support for funding maintenance and operations costs for sanitation infrastructure. However, funding gaps and delays at the local district assemblies prevent the resources allocated by the Ghanaian government to trickle down to the neediest communities.

“Holding the district assemblies to account – that is really the greatest challenge,” says Peter Aniglo of the Rotary Club of Sunyani Central. Aniglo feels the workshop made clearer the pertinence of understanding the laws and regulations in order to train communities to understand their rights, the importance of helping communities organize self-funding methods, and the need to engage decision makers at the district assemblies.

The Rotarians came to the workshop with no prior experience with advocacy, but went away with a better understanding of its value in elevating the work of Rotary. Beatrice Baiden of the Rotary Club of Accra Dzorwolu, says “the training made me gain better understanding of the WASH sector with regards to policy and guidelines available, challenges of the WASH program, and how we could use advocacy to address the challenges as Rotarians.”

Aniglo notes the advocacy training is going a long way in helping sustain projects.

Learn more about the Rotary-USAID International H2O Collaboration





6 thoughts on “Good news for Ghana sanitation efforts

  1. The Heag-Ghana Foundation, Medical Professionals headed by DR Dakwa from Raleigh NC also working with President Nana Akufo-Addo for: Clean, water, food/agriculture, renewable energy and providing new Ghana Medical Care, Heath, Treatment, Training, Hospital. Partnering with FSU-HCOP UNCCH-HCOP, & NC Agriculture


  2. Thanks to the U.S.A Rotary Club for the money given for the sanitation.But the Rotary club should monitor, all the projects, so that some local community will have assets to it.


  3. It is definitely building “Goodwill” and “beneficial to all concerned”. Blair, Navarre
    Rotary Club


  4. I like your articles simple answer to a deadly problem!


    Community-wide water infrastructure is as good as it gets. But until everyone has that, there are other, cheaper clean water solutions. Boiling water over a wood fire is one of the most widely used methods, but it is also a health hazard for those working in poorly ventilated kitchens, and it exacerbates deforestation. Instead, we’ve rounded up ten low-cost ways to treat water, and not one requires boiling. Do you know of other methods? Please let us know in a comment below.

    1. Ceramic filters

    ceramic Clay, sawdust and a plastic bucket can make a water filter that catches dirt and disease-causing microbes. In the classic design, mix clay with a combustible material like sawdust or rice husks, give it a flower pot shape and fire it in a kiln. The sawdust or rice husks burn away, leaving tiny pores in the ceramic through which water filters. Organizations around the world have been using this kind of ceramic filter to reduce disease in impoverished communities for years.

    This prototype is the predecessor of bone-char filters that will strip heavy metals from drinking water on a South Dakota reservation. Photo courtesy of Jacob Becraft

    2. Bone char filtration

    filtersNot all filters remove heavy metals or other toxins from the water, but crushed and charred animal bone can. And in areas where they occur in the water, removing them is a good idea. Chronic arsenic exposure, for example, can cause skin cancer, bladder, kidney and lung cancers, gangrene and possibly diabetes, high blood pressure and reproductive disorders. Uranium in the drinking water is linked to nephritis (pdf)—inflammation of the kidneys. As they inflame, the kidneys dump proteins that the body needs into the urine stream, a condition that is lethal at its worst.

    When a US Geological Survey study found high levels of arsenic and uranium in wells in the Ogala Lakota tribe’s US reservation at Pine Ridge, students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had an idea: Bone char. Crushed and charred cattle bones are cheap and locally available. With the right design, filters can clean drinking water right in the home. It’s a solution that can work in Pine Ridge or anywhere arsenic contamination is rampant (bearing in mind potential cultural aversions to ingesting cow products).

    3.Slow sand filtration

    way to clean water Slow sand filtration has the advantage of working on an entire community’s water source, not just individual households. Practical Action put together a technical manual for slow sand filtration systems, a complete guide to their construction and maintenance. Follow the link above to see the manual.

    A slow sand filtration system is a combination of several parts: water storage tanks, an aerator, pre-filters, slow sand filters, disinfection stages, and filtered water storage tanks. The number of filters and filter types that are used in a given slow sand filtration system will depend on the quality of the source water and will be different for each community.

    4. Everything-but-the-sink portable filter

    methods for cleaning water This portable filter design proposed in response to a call for better water filtration at taps in India uses chlorine, silver beads, activated charcoal and sand. Honeybee Network posed the original problem and an E4C member posted this solution. It includes a detailed guide to the specifications, materials and construction of a portable filter built from everything but the kitchen sink.

    Honeybee Network also proposes the development of new mobile applications that employ a phone’s camera to sense impurities in water. We Googled up two that are in development: The H2O Mobile Water Testing Lab and Aquatest, though it’s not clear if the latter will be phone based or not.

    5. Bamboo charcoal

    way to clean water In this spin on the charcoal filter, a team of E4C members in Bangalore propose a filter made of locally available materials including charred bamboo, gravel and natural adsorbents. “The process we propose is indigenous, eco-friendly, low cost and entails minimum maintenance,” the team writes in their workspace. They estimate that their filter can handle 30 liters of water per hour, and it would be affordable for average households in the region.

    6. Solar sterilization

    Ways to Clean Water If cost is a bigger concern than time or convenience, the cheapest way to treat water is to leave it in a plastic bottle in the sunlight. Leave clear bottles in the sun for a few hours and the UV radiation and heat kills the microbes that cause diarrhea and other waterborne illness. The Sodis (for solar disinfection) method was deployed in some parts of Haiti after the earthquake in 2010, and it is used in emergencies and impoverished regions worldwide.

    If the bottle is too basic or prone to error, Solvatten sells a more highly designed solar disinfection device. It’s a jerry-can-like container with a built-in thermal indicator that lets drinkers know when the water is safe to drink. The Solvatten container opens like a book to expose the water inside to sunlight through clear plastic panels. Its black backing helps it absorb more sunlight.

    The amount of sun exposure that a bottle needs varies by the amount of sunlight available (it takes longer to sterilize water on a cloudy day). To take the guess work out of the solar method, a disinfection indicator can measure light exposure and signal when the germs are dead. We came across this prototype of a solar indicator at IEEE’s Global Humanitarian Technology Conference in Seattle, Wash., last year. And there’s also Helioz, a similar concept with a top-mounted design.

    7. Solar distillation

    ways to clean water Not to be confused with solar sterilization or disinfection, solar distillation purifies even muddy, salty or otherwise undrinable water through evaporation and condensation. The power of distilation to purify saltwater makes it unique among the treatment methods featured on this page. A solar still can actually be a cheap and simple piece of shaped plastic or glass, or they can be more highly designed devices. To work, the still allows sunlight to shine through a clear panel onto the impure water. The water heats and evaporates, then condenses on the underside of the panel and runs off into a container of some kind. This simple process takes huge amounts of energy, which is why solar stills can make more sense than stills powered by other fuels. Our Solutions Library links to a technical brief and construction guide to several different still designs from Practical Action.

    8. Bicycle filter

    Bicycles in all their glorious versatility and simplicity have got to be one of our favorite devices, and we were pleased to find not just one, but two bicycle-powered water filters. Nippon Basic Co. invented Cyclo Clean, a bicycle rigged with a pump to draw water from a river or well and a robust, three-filter system to purify the water. The filters are designed to last without replacement for two years, and the tires are puncture-proof. It can filter three tons of water in 10 hours.

    Then there’s the Aqueduct, which is like Cyclo’s whimsical little brother. It’s a tricycle with bubbly curves and a sky-blue paint job that pumps up to two gallons of water through a filter while the rider pedals. Cyclo handles much greater volumes of water, but Aqueduct’s one advantage is that it can do its job on the move.

    Both of these designs are in our – ahem – fantastic list of ten things you can do with a bicycle.

    9. Emergency homemade filter water filtration

    The plastic bottle makes yet another appearance as a water treatment device, this time as a simple filter that can remove sediment and even disease-causing microbes. Simply cut the bottom from the bottle, fill it with layers of gravel, sand cloth and charcoal, filter the water through it and hope for the best.

    10. This design is also featured in our list of the best appropriate technology DIY plans Chlorine chlorinate water We saved the most obvious and probably the most reliable treatment method for last.

    Chlorine can work in the community water supply to kill microbes before it enters people’s jerry cans or home water supplies. And it keeps the water safe from new contaminations long after it is added.

    We’ve seen several interesting chlorination methods at work in resource-poor regions. Compatible Technology International developed this tested and proven device that chlorinates water in gravity-fed systems that fill a community water cistern. And these four experimental designs have worked in field tests to dose water accurately after people fill their buckets at a community well, stream or other source. The chlorinator, shown here fully assembled and broken down, attaches to a loop in the water pipe that feeds into the community tank. Image courtesy of CTI

    Ten low-cost ways to treat water – Engineering For Change
    Mar 11, 2012 – We’ve rounded up ten low-cost ways to treat water for people without community-wide water infrastructure, “and not one requires boiling”


  5. Pingback: Good news for Ghana sanitation efforts | The Rotary Club of Carteret

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