Ashaiman
Ashaiman

Just like many children the world over, children of Tulaku an urban slam community in Ashaiman near Ghana’s eastern port city of Tema, about 40 km east of the capital aspire to develop in a healthy environments.

However, due to the lack of some basic necessities for that safe and healthy development, these children are forced to adapt to the unhealthy lifestyles in their community.

One major problem of this community is the lack of household toilets, making open defecation the order of the day, a situation which epitomizes the country’s basic sanitation challenge.

The stench of fecal matter engulfs the whole community, while prepared food sellers vend their edibles, in the filth with people buying and eating at the same place.

Maxwell Siada,14, who hawks items around the community had cause to complain to Xinhua about the situation in Ashaiman, located on a 30.1 km square, with a 300,000 population, according to official data.

“I tried to report the children defecating around here to some elderly people, but a woman came to question me, as to why I did that. I told her open defecation pollutes the air and also creates diseases,” he explained.

The commercialized public toilets in the area are an eye-sore with the septic tanks overflowing with fecal matter, as only 15.7 percent households in this community have toilets, bringing pressure to bear on these old and unsafe public facilities.

“This public toilet is full of rats, maggots and cockroaches. Some children even fall into the pits, that’s why we defecate outside,” Mohammed Hariff, 11, and a junior high school pupil told Xinhua after the morning visit to the site to defecate in the open.

Hariff who had gone there in the company of his friends added: “So we need help. Government should build toilets for us in our homes, so we will not come here again.”

With one deafening voice, they chanted: “We need toilets in Tulaku; we need toilets in our homes; we need toilets in Ashaiman.”

Official data shows that 85.7 percent of the Ghanaian households lacked household toilets, with evidence indicating, approximately 19,000 Ghanaians, including 5,100 children under-five die annually from diarrhea, mostly attributed to poor water, sanitation and hygiene conditions.

To reverse the situation, Henry Tenu, a Municipal Environmental Sanitation Officer told Xinhua that the Ashaiman municipal assembly had, with support from the World Bank and the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF) been assisting households to construct clean, safe and hygienic bio-digester toilets at subsidized costs.

Ghana’s president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, co-chair of the UN Secretary General’s Eminent Persons’ Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has pledged to make the country’s capital the cleanest in all of Africa, by 2020. Enditem

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