A walk through Walewale Township, the West Mamprusi Municipal Capital in the North East Region saw a large number of households without toilet facilities.
Some children and adults were seen squatting in nearby bushes in the backyards of their homes as well as on refuse dumps attending to nature's call. Surprisingly, this act is not being practised only in the night but in the full glare of everyone in the day time. The adults especially women never feel shy even when they see people approaching them.
A visit by Starr news’s Jonas Biawurbi to communities such as Fongni, Nayiri Fong, kukua Zugu and Kperiga saw more than 100 houses not having toilet facilities. Checks revealed that there are six public toilets in the whole Municipal capital but all of them are in a deplorable state.
Some have developed dangerous cracks with their manholes opened up, posing as death traps to users, whereas others were poorly kept. The stench emanating from the deplorable toilet facilities had also compelled some residents to resort to defecating in the bush exposing them to dangerous reptiles and other harmful health hazards.
Checks revealed that the Fongni and Nayiri Fong toilets facilities for instance were constructed in the early 90s but have not witnessed any renovation since its construction.
According to the Municipal Environmental Health Directorate about 80 per cent of households in the Walewale Township practice open defecation because they do not have toilet facilities.
Aside from open defecation, the sanitation situation in the town is poor as polythene bags are littered around haphazardly. Refuse are also dumped at the premises of the various public toilets which had become a haven for open defecation, with various drainage systems choked with filth.
Some people in the town expressed fear about their health indicating that had been the situation for the past years.
A resident, Mr Alidu Sule said open defecation was a normal practice because majority of them do not have latrines in their homes, saying “we defecate on the refuse dam and in the bush because most people don’t have any choice”.
He said the situation is very worrying in the rainy season as some residents have to defy the rains sometimes to do it outside when they are pressed.
Another resident, Madam Safia Hamidu said: “I don’t have toilet in my house and the public toilets too are not in good shape so the only option is to ease myself in the bush so it is very worrying”.
The residents, therefore, appealed to the assembly to as a matter of urgency renovate the public toilets to alleviate their plight.
The impact of open defecation on the socio-economic development cannot be over-emphasized as health experts have confirmed that there is a direct correlation between open defecation and diseases such as typhoid, dysentery and cholera among others.
Starr news’s checks at the Walewale Municipal Health Directorate indicate that about 70 to 80 per cent of Out-Patient Department (OPD) cases in various health facilities in the town were sanitation-related cases, a situation which calls for urgent attention to improve on the sanitation situation.
The Municipal Environmental Officer, Mr. Anass Baba Iddrisu told Starr news the poor sanitation situation has been a major worry to the assembly for the past years and that, it is working around the clock to address it.
“Early morning when you go outside you will see that most people are really suffering because they have no place of convenience, for some people the public toilets are not in good shape or not near the homes so they are compelled to defecate in the open” he lamented.
He indicated that the assembly was working on a comprehensive plan geared towards tackling the menace, stating that in the interim it was working hard to get a contractor to renovate all the existing public toilets for use.
Mr. Iddrisu also said his outfit was intending to enforce sanitation bye-laws to ensure that all landlords construct latrines in their homes within a given period of time.
“Most people think that the government or NGOs have to come and construct toilet facilities for them, if you check almost all the old houses do not have latrines it is only the newly build houses that have latrines” noting that the situation was, however, different in some communities in the municipality because the assembly had partnered with UNICEF to ensure that they acquire latrines.
He appealed to all landlords in the town to construct latrines in their homes to help curb open defecation in the area and improve on the sanitation situation.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which Ghana is a signatory to, goal 6 talks about ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. However, there is no doubt that the situation in the Walewale Township would one way or the other negatively affect Ghana’s quest to meet the SDGs.