Long Read

Best practice: Promoting credit schemes and sanitation for better health in Ghana

In Northern Ghana the Dutch WASH Alliance supports the Community Life Improvement Programme (CLIP) and the New Energy Consortium in championing sanitation, clean water and good personal hygiene in and around Tamale, one of the fastest growing cities in West Africa.

CLIP works with local partners in 32 urban and peri-urban communities towards two goals: 1) raising awareness of the benefits of safe sanitation and clean water; 2) stimulating people to construct and use their own toilets and practise good personal hygiene. The New Energy Consortium promotes the construction of toilets and trains volunteers to champion sanitation and good hygiene in 33 communities.

Together CLIP and the New Energy Consortium have developed support networks for communities and local businesses, trained volunteers to form Community Sanitation Development Committees, championed the use of sanitation, clean water and good hygiene, and promoted a credit scheme to enable households to construct their own latrines.

As their active partner, the Dutch WASH Alliance has supported CLIP and the New Energy Consortium with finance, technical support and training, resulting in significant advances in the number of toilets constructed and a decline in open defecation.

Sustaining Success with Action-Research for Learning

The Dutch WASH Alliance’s Action-Research for Learning project helps NGOs learn from what they are doing and sustain success after the end of an intervention. CLIP and the New Energy Consortium enlisted the help of community members to collect information on the impact of their activities. After analysing the data they realised that communities needed better information about sanitation. To meet this need CLIP established six sanitation markets offering a range of toilet options from US$39 pit latrines to US$75 flush water closets. To encourage families to select the toilet that suits them best, rather than simply buying on price, materials for each option are also listed.

Community Sanitation Development Committees manage these markets, as well as promoting the benefits of household toilets and demonstrating good hygiene practices. To lower the cost of the toilets CLIP has trained local people to construct the toilers, a system which also provides a valuable income for the builders.

As many families still cannot afford a toilet, CLIP asked the Presbyterian Cooperative Credit Union in Tamale to design and launch credit products so that poor households could join a savings group.  More than 100 households have already made use of these loans to construct their own toilets.

In the most crowded parts of Tamale, where there is little space to develop household toilets, public toilets play a vital role. A CLIP survey as part of Action Research for Learning showed that people are unwilling to use poorly maintained and dirty public facilities, and they found privately managed toilets to be cleaner and better managed. CLIP persuaded the local authority to lease

15 state-managed public toilets in the Tamale area for private management –  with the result that use of public toilets has increased.

Further surveys undertaken as part of Action-Research for Learning show that almost all community members now wash their hands with soap after defecation. Environmental cleanliness has also improved, with 90% of community members using bins to collect household waste, compared with 65% of households in 2013.

The New Energy Consortium has also been able to strengthen its programme through Action-Research for Learning. In rural areas the number of toilets has increased and open defecation has reduced since 2013. Hygiene has improved with more people washing their hands with soap before cooking, after defecation and before feeding a baby. Drinking water is also handled more safely as people cover water containers and clean them every three days, while soakaways have been constructed to lead dirty water away from the house.

For more information on this project, download WASH Alliance’s factsheet here.


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