Clean water is the gateway to good health and development. This is why Africare, using the Nobel Prize monies generously donated by President Obama, launched the Ghana Water Access, Sanitation and Hygiene for Health (WASHH) Project in the Wasa Amenfi West District of Ghana on September 1, 2010. The six-month project is a response to significant challenges in the availability of clean water and decent sanitation in the country. The goals of the WASHH project are to:
• increase access to clean water and sanitation facilities;
• expand knowledge and awareness of good sanitation and hygiene; and,
• improve health and quality of life for 1,200 beneficiaries, especially children, in four of the district’s communities.
Since the launch of the project, Africare has begun implementing activities that will lead to a sustainable and successful intervention, and is on track to complete the project by early spring 2011. As part of Africare’s project development, it conducted a baseline survey to map the pre-intervention conditions of both water and sanitation in the area. The survey found that 80 percent of households in the Wasa Amenfi West District were dissatisfied with their water resources, with nearly half having contaminated water. The survey also showed that over 90 percent of the respondents shared a latrine with 6 or more households, or at least thirty other people.
These statistics show that poor water quality and sanitation have had a stark negative impact on the health of the community. In the two weeks prior to the survey, 15 percent of children under 5 reported having diarrhea, a leading cause of mortality in children. Unfortunately, 20 percent of respondents had no knowledge of the causes of diarrhea.
Africare’s project contains three components to ensure the goals of the project are achieved,:
1. Increase community awareness and knowledge: To increase community awareness and knowledge of water and sanitation issues, Africare is using the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach. This includes training community members about the relationships between sanitation practices, contamination of water resources, and health consequences. Nurses and volunteers have also been trained to serve as community trainers in good water and sanitation practices. The other part of this approach is a marketing campaign. Africare has produced a series of materials to inform communities, which includes “walls that talk” about good sanitation practices. In addition, the local radio station “Velvet FM” has begun airing informational segments several times a week.
2. Increase availability of water and sanitation infrastructure: In order to facilitate better sanitation at the household level, Africare has trained ten masons as latrine artisans to construct the most commonly used, low-cost, ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines for individual households in the Amoaman community. Each household will cover the cost of construction to ensure their willingness to use and maintain the facility. However, project funds will help subsidize costs for at-risk households by providing the basic materials.
To improve access to clean water, Africare has already drilled two new boreholes – one for a school in Amoaman and the other for the general community in Juantuakrom. Additionally, two drilled but incomplete boreholes were flushed out (cleaned and re-developed) and made functional. In total, the project has drilled and capped two new boreholes and capped two pre-existing wells across the four communities.
3. Implement strategies to sustain adoption and promotion of WASHH and environmental sanitation practices: Africare hopes to introduce incentives (awards, etc.) to increase adoption of household sanitation. It will also train water and sanitation committees in each community in maintenance of the water sources and sanitation facilities to ensure ownership and sustainability of the project and its products.To improve access to clean water, Africare has already drilled two new boreholes – one for a school in Amoaman and the other for the general community in Juantuakrom. Additionally, two drilled but incomplete boreholes were flushed out (cleaned and re-developed) and made functional. In total, the project has drilled and capped two new boreholes and capped two pre-existing wells across the four communities.
By employing community-based approaches and measuring the impact of the WASHH project activities, Africare will ensure the sustainability of its interventions, help highlight President Obama’s effort to improve lives in Africa, and, assist in efforts to move Ghana one step closer to achieving its Millennium Development Goals for water and sanitation.
To read more about the project launch, click here.