Pan latrines still in use in Accra (Thursday, June 24, 2010 pg 51)

TWO years after the Supreme Court outlawed the use of the pan latrines and directed the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to phase it out within its jurisdiction, the facility was still in use, with human carriers of the night soil still in active business.

 Daily Graphic observations in Accra New Town, Pig Farm, Maamobi, Kotobabi,  Osu, Alajo, James Town, Mamprobi , Abelenkpe and Nima showed that the use of the facility was still widespread.
Statistics made available by the Metropolitan Public Health Department of the AMA, indicated that 5,002 residences, three industrial and 243 hospitality centres, as well as 46 schools in various parts of the city, were still using the pan latrines.
Mr Samuel Kpodo, the Principal Environmental Technologist of the AMA, attributed the delay in enforcing the law to stock-taking and promised that action would be taken by the end of this year when the prosecution of defiant landlords would be effected.
In July, 2008, the Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling, ordered the assembly to stop the use of the facility in the national capital due to its environmental and health implications.

The directive from the Supreme Court followed a writ by a coalition of human rights organisations led by an Accra-based legal practitioner, Nana Adjei Ampofo, in February, 2008.

The court also instructed the city authorities to construct 1,500 water closets and KVIPs within the period as well as arrange subsidies for those who would convert their pan facilities into water closets or KVIPs.

Apart from the AMA, Kumasi Metropolitan and the New Juaben Municipal assemblies have all banned the use of the facility with the Ho Municipality expected to follow suit in September, this year.

The human rights organisations argued that the carrying of human excreta in containers by human beings was a violation of their human rights, based on which the Supreme Court ruled that the assembly should phase out the facility beginning 2008.

The data further revealed that 70 per cent of residents in the metropolis did not have access to their own places of convenience, hence, reliance on public ones, including the pan latrine facilities to attend to nature’s call, a situation which made a complete phase-out of the facility unattainable.

According to a recent report on sanitation of the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF, of Ghana’s estimated 22 million population, only about 2.2 million people in Ghana had access to decent household toilets.

The JMP also reported that while more than 11 million people in Ghana representing 51 per cent, used or  shared  public toilet facilities, open defecation rate in Ghana reduced marginally from 24 per cent  in 1990 to 20 per cent  in 2006.

According to the Environmental Health Sanitation Directorate (EHSD) of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, public toilets were mainly built for transient populations and areas of heavy public activity.

However, there were still quite a number of communities in both rural and urban areas that used public latrines as their main place of convenience due to absence of household toilet facilities.

The Ghana Statistical Service Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey report for 2006, also showed that open defecation was prevalent in all the 10 regions but most widespread in the Upper East Region where 82 per cent of the population were without any form of toilet facilities followed by the Upper West Region with about 79 per cent and then the Northern Region with about 73 per cent.

A World Bank country environmental analysis conducted in Ghana indicated that health costs resulting from poor water, sanitation and hygiene cost the country the equivalent of 2.1 per cent  of annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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