Aisha Abdul-Aziz is 9 year old and lives in Changli, a suburb of this city. His home, like many in the densely populated Changli neighbourhood, did not have a toilet until last year. 

“When you don’t have a toilet in your house, it is a bad thing. Sometimes, you walk for long hours to go and defecate in the bush. It’s not good if you go through that as a child”, she says.

In 2017, her father, Abdul Aziz Issah took up an offer by city authorities to help residents build their own toilets in their homes using part-payment from the assembly.

The project, a Water, Sanitation and hygiene (WASH) initiative being implemented by the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly (TMA) uses local technology and artisans to produce tailor-made toilets.

Beneficiaries are supposed to provide part-payment for the entire cost.

The project- with funding from UNICEF and the Dutch government became necessary due to the alarming rates at which open defecation and its attendant health hazards had gotten to in the northern regional capital.

The TMA, where Changli is located, in December 2017 topped the list of open defecation areas in the Northern Region.

This was the third consecutive time the metropolis had scored zero marks in a ranking which assessed 26 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in the region.

The impact of that has been felt in rising cases of cholera and malaria in several hospitals in the metropolis.

“We have seen the negative impact of this open defecation problem in the past. That is why we are getting to work and employing every measure to end it”, said Iddrisu Musah Superior, the Municipal Chief Executive of Tamale.

The project seeks to build 7,000 latrines by 2020.

“Voluntary compliance of residents within the Tamale Metropolis to build their own toilet is key to achieving the open defecation-free agenda. The Netherlands government is committed to supporting Ghana on this journey”, said Ron Strikker, Dutch Ambassador to Ghana who was visiting Tamale to see the impact it was having on lives.

“Since we had our own toilet at home, I can go to school on time and I don’t go and queue at the public KVIP to ease myself. I think we are all happy in the house,” said Aisha.

Apart from the TMA, The project is being implemented in Ashaiman in the Greater Accra Region and Ho Municipality in the Volta Region; with an objective of increasing access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in communities and schools.

UNICEF Country Representative, Anne-Claire Dufay, who was visiting Tamale with the Dutch Ambassador said: “UNICEF is committed to support the fight against open defecation, and also promote improved water, sanitation and hygiene in across the areas in Ghana where they are most needed”.