Development Partners (DPs) in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector are confident there is a good chance for improving Ghana’s sanitation situation through the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) model.A workable option is to give serious consideration to extending CLTS to cover small towns, according to DP Lead for the WASH Sector, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD or Development Canada).
The CLTS model employs the community mobilisation strategy, empowering communities to analyse their sanitation conditions and take collective action to change their situation. Primarily, it focuses on collective change of attitudes and behaviour from all community members towards completely stopping Open Defecation (OD). It has largely been deployed as a rural community – rather than urban or small town – sanitation strategy in many countries.But Dr. Cheryl Gopaul-Saikali, Counsellor for Development at Development Canada (which replaced the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in June 2013), has said that “there are practical reasons for adopting CLTS in small towns and urban communities as is being done in Kenya, Zambia, India and at home in Ghana.”Dr Gopaul-Saikali made the suggestion when representing WASH sector DPs at the 40th edition of the National Level Learning Alliance Platform (NLLAP), which was held in Accra last Thursday. It was on the topic Implementing CLTS in Small Towns: Looking back to inform our way forward.The meeting was dedicated to sharing the outcomes of the Northern Region Small Towns Water and Sanitation Project (NORST) project, a pilot project carried out in the Northern Region of Ghana to test the viability of CLTS in small towns.Two communities, Bincheratanga (Nanumba North District) and Karaga (Karaga District), were selected for the NORST pilot. Implementation was under the auspices of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD) in collaboration with UNICEF and Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA).Commenting on the pilot, Dr Gopaul-Saikali said “Given the current status quo, it is obvious that expected improvements in sanitation would be difficult to attain. Sector DPs are therefore pleased that some agencies (including UNICEF, Plan Ghana, TREND and Canada) are piloting CLTS in small towns and selected peri-urban communities in collaboration with the government and local partner organizations.”But making further progress requires, first, “bringing information from the field to the national level for inclusive discussions…” Dr Gopaul-Saikali pointed out. She also recommended the documentation and sharing of lessons, stressing this “will prevent repeating mistakes made and accelerate learning at scale.”A third suggestion from Dr Gopaul-Saikali was that government should demonstrate “willingness to work in partnership with all stakeholders…”In an interview, Naa Lenason Demedeme, Acting Director of EHSD of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), welcomed the suggestions from the DPs, noting that collaboration is particularly important.He told me that having a more effective collaboration is critical, particularly because there are also projects which are in the pipeline and these have been possible as a result of collaboration.Meanwhile, Ghana is attempting to replicate the examples of countries like India where CLTS is said to have been used to dramatically improve sanitation.The 2013 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS, 2013) Report estimates Ghana’s improved sanitation (safe toilet) access rate at 15% as at 2012, against the 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of 54%. At the same time the open defecation rate of the country is 23%, implying that 1 in 4 Ghanaians defecate in the open every day.Further statistical disaggregation shows that improved sanitation coverage for urban Ghana is 21% while coverage for rural Ghana sits at 9%.
In August 2013, the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) analysed that with the coverage rate of 1 percentage point per annum, it is likely to take 40 years for Ghana to reach the MDG target of 54% for sanitation and another 46 years to reach universal coverage.