Photo By: Amitavachandra Ureka is licensed under the CC BY-NC 4.0 license.
Development Assistance & Economic Support Fund
Providing Dignity through Improved Sanitation
Ghana is a country of jarring contradictions. Technology is quickly infiltrating daily lives: nearly everyone has a mobile phone, the majority have access to electricity, and millions use the internet. However, less than 15% of the country has access to basic sanitation, and one in five Ghanaians defecate in the open.
Anani Abeena, from Taviefe-Dzefe village in the Volta Region, says this is because the latrines available in rural villages like his are just not appealing. Abeena, a 54-year-old farmer and father of five, said household latrines are too expensive, difficult to maintain, and unpleasant to use. “There are a few household latrines around, but considering the bad odor and the number of flies that hover around them, that did not encourage me to get one,” he said. So, for most of his life, he opted to relieve himself in the bush.
Abeena is not alone: more than 800 million people worldwide still defecate in the open. This practice results in billions of lost dollars from the global economy due to diarrheal illness and widespread threats to public health, including a heightened risk of global epidemics.
Through the five-year USAID-funded WASH for Heath Project, Global Communities designed and piloted a new, more acceptable latrine in Ghana—it’s simple to install, affordable, comfortable, and easy to clean. The goal is that the “Digni-Loo” will make it more attainable and aspirational for millions like Abeena to stop defecating in the open.
Named the Digni-Loo because of the dignity it brings users, the latrine is made of plastic instead of typical cement. It takes only 10 minutes to install and does not require professional installation. It is made of durable materials that can last up to 20 years, and it is cheaper than other latrines on the market at around $85 USD versus more than $400 USD for a traditional cement model.
Initial responses have been positive. Stella Adzonyo, an elderly participant in the pilot program who relies on a wheelchair, said she feels safer now than when she would use the bush. “Before, I would get diarrhea often. And sometimes, when I was using my wheelchair, I would fall and get bruises on my way to the bush. Also, I would encounter reptiles like snakes,” she said. “The Digni-Loo has changed my life.”
Even Abeena, who also participated in the pilot, liked the Digni-Loo. “It is easy to clean, flies do not disturb, and there is no bad scent,” he said.
It is still early, but it looks as if the Digni-Loo could become a game-changer in Ghana’s sanitation industry. Since its development, more than 9,000 latrines have been installed in eight regions in Ghana. Digni-Loos are being produced in large quantities and sold in the local market to individuals and local and international organizations; the Government of Ghana has purchased 20,000 units. In the coming months, Global Communities will continue working with the government, private sector, and community partners to make the Digni-Loo available to all Ghanaians.