A large Danish-funded sanitation research project focusing on townships in Ghana is set to start in January 2011.
The Sustainable Sanitation Solutions (SUSA) Ghana Project will examine sanitation preferences and practices, infrastructure and technical barriers, sanitation worker health risks, sanitation business models, and mobile phone technology for monitoring.
The University of Copenhagen in partnership with the University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the Dodowa Health Research Centre has been awarded funding from the Danish Ministry of Foreign (FFU) affairs to conduct a large sanitation research project in the Dangme West District of Ghana, with a focus on rapidly developing townships. Close to 50% of Ghana’s 23 million residents currently live in urban or peri-urban environments, however, only 27% of such residents have access to improved sanitation and only 13% are connected to sewerage facilities. The traditional approach to building sanitation facilities has not resulted in significant and sustained sanitation coverage, in particular for the peri-urban poor. Latrine uptake is low because existing technologies are poorly designed, in poor condition, unsafe and cost prohibitive. Poor sanitation is the primary cause of diarrheal disease, which accounts for 9% of all deaths in Ghana and 3.1% of DALYs.
The Dangme West District in Ghana has been chosen as the study site for this research because over the last 10 years the proportion of urban residents in the District has risen from 20% to 40%, which has outpaced the capacity of local government to handle the accompanying sanitation challenges. The toilet facilities often do not meet the standards of improved latrines and waste disposal methods are not environmentally safe or hygienic. A large proportion of households (43%) has no toilet facility and uses the bush, beach or field. Approximately 21% of households use unimproved pit latrines. Researchers from the universities along with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, NGOs and private have identified the following five research objectives have been established for the SUSA Project in Dangme West:
- To understand sanitation preferences and practices among users and sanitation service providers across the sanitation lifecycle
- To evaluate infrastructure and technical barriers to improved sanitation usage and safe waste management
- To assess and propose means of reducing health risks among workers managing excreta
- To explore the strengths/weaknesses of local sanitation business models and propose means to increase latrine uptake and improve waste removal
- To test how mobile phone technology can improve monitoring of private contractors in the sanitation sector
Because the project has a strong focus on local capacity building, much of the funding will be used to support 4 Ghanaian PhD fellows and two Ghanaian post-doctoral candidates, each of whom will benefit from the input of international sanitation experts advising the SUSA project. Project planning will start at the end of 2010 and will officially launch in January of 2011.
Flemming Konradsen, Professor, Deputy Head of Department
Department of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
E-mail: flko [at] sund.ku.dk
Acknowledgment: a special thanks to Prof. Konradsen for allowing WASH News Africa to post the project summary