WSUP Ghana empowers local artisans through training on bio-digester toilet construction

Themes: Innovation Market development WASH
Countries: Ghana Ghana-local

By Rachael Lithur

WSUP Ghana, in a transformative partnership with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is leading a one-year project that will revolutionize water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services in the Ashanti region. This initiative, in collaboration with the Atwima Kwanwoma District and the Juaben Municipal Assemblies, is set to significantly improve access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene practices in schools and communities.

The project’s impact is already evident in the four schools where it has focused on providing gender—and disability-friendly WASH facilities. The absence of such amenities was a barrier to education, particularly for girls during menstruation. Now, these schools boast comprehensive facilities that include water supply, toilet cubicles, urinals, and menstrual hygiene management units, leading to improved attendance and a more inclusive learning environment.

The project is developing community structures and systems to enhance access to household toilets to ensure that the communities around these schools also benefit from improved sanitation. As part of this effort, 24 local artisans from these communities participated in a seven-day residential training at the Ada College of Education Bio-Digester Construction and Installation Center in the Greater Accra region. This training combined theoretical knowledge with practical skills, equipping artisans with the latest bio-digester toilet construction and maintenance techniques.

During the graduation ceremony, Mr. David Kpodo, the course president, expressed the trainees’ collective sentiment: “We are returning to our communities to help improve sanitation with the knowledge and skills we have acquired from the training.”

Bio-digester toilets are an innovative solution for onsite sanitation, designed to efficiently separate human excreta from blackwater and facilitate degradation under aerobic conditions. This process is driven by the interaction of micro-organisms and macro-organisms, making bio-digesters an effective alternative for excreta treatment directly from water closets or pour-flush seats. The popularity of bio-digester toilets is rapidly increasing in urban Ghana, particularly in low-income communities in the Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi metropolitan areas. Their adoption is supported by the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources through the World Bank-funded Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) and Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area (GKMA) Sanitation and Water project.

Quaranchie Adama-Tettey, Behaviour Change and Communication Specialist on the GAMA/GKMA project highlighted the advantages of bio-digester toilets at the graduation ceremony. He noted that the 2021 Population and Housing Census identified bio-digesters as a preferred option due to their ease of construction, affordability, and minimal space requirements. Additionally, the resource reuse potential of bio-digester toilets aligns with Ghana’s circular economy initiatives.

WSUP Ghana’s project officer, Mr. John Alate, emphasized the significance of this training program: “Supporting the training of local artisans in bio-digester toilet construction aligns well with WSUP’s mission to transform cities and benefit millions who lack access to water and sanitation. This initiative enables us to work alongside local providers, empowering them to develop their services and reach low-income communities.”

By equipping local artisans with the skills needed to construct bio-digester toilets, WSUP Ghana is fostering sustainable sanitation solutions that will have a lasting impact on the health and well-being of communities across the Ashanti region.