Supporting sanitation businesses
Too many families in Ghana still don’t have access to a decent toilet. In most locations, sewers are not available, so the best options are well-constructed pit latrines or closed container toilets, both of which require regular servicing.
For years, WSUP has been working with businesses, communities and funders to support the expansion of dignified, safe toilets, and to improve the collection of waste. This includes setting up a business called Clean team, run by local people, which provides container-style toilets at an affordable monthly fee covering toilet rental and the container replacement service. Clean Team is currently serving thousands of customers in Kumasi.
Cost is a big barrier for many households hoping to build household or compound toilets. In Kumasi and the Ga West municipality of Accra, WSUP works to promote and increase access to improved sanitation. Toilet designs and sales models have been tested; we have created partnerships with micro-finance institutions and community banks to offer loans to households and artisans; and we mobilised support for market development from communities and municipal authorities. We have also conducted research into the issues that make it hard for people to get toilets built.
“Now, many residents appreciate the relevance of compound toilets and they are making efforts to own one or upgrade existing ones.”
“I have developed a passion for sanitation since the age of 13. I got the opportunity to study Environmental Health and Sanitation and currently hold a Diploma in Environmental Health from Ho School of Hygiene,” says twenty-three old Esther Yeboah.
Having lived in Asokore Mampong Municipal Assembly (AMMA) for the past 2 years, Esther believes her district faces significant sanitation related challenges including low sanitation coverage, high rates of open defecation, high numbers of unsafe toilets, over-reliance on public toilets among other issues. Her assertion was confirmed recently by the UNICEF District Ranking on Sanitation where AMMA was ranked last.
Whilst pursuing job opportunities in the sector, she was recruited as a Toilet Sales Agent (TSA) under the SSD project.
“I was made the lead TSA among four men for AMMA to lead in the sales and promotion of toilets in my district. The TSA concept came to me as a dream come true. Besides providing me with monetary rewards, it has given me an excellent platform to build my capacity and skills in marketing and how to set-up a sustainable sanitation business.”
Reflecting on her experiences as a TSA, Esther remarks, “Being one of the few women on the sales team, I was not intimidated to lead a male-dominated team. As a lead TSA, my coordination role led to the construction/improvement of over 10 toilets in AMMA with my teammates, 7 of which I facilitated.’’
She believes the project is gradually shaping people’s behaviour, “Now, many residents appreciate the relevance of compound toilets and they are making efforts to own one or upgrade existing ones.”
Esther and her team utilised a number of strategies in creating demand for the uptake of toilet construction including house-to-house promotion, target group promotion through churches and identified groups, mini durbars and the use of community information centres. According to her, mini durbars were one of the most effective and efficient strategies because they provide a platform to address personal sanitation issues and solutions through direct interactions with residents.
Though she thinks that they could have sold more toilets, she is also mindful of the challenges that affected sales, for example, difficulty in meeting target group at homes due to economic activities, absentee landlords, multiple landlords, low level of income of targeted beneficiaries, and difficulty in meeting eligibility requirements to secure a loan.
Despite the constraints, Esther remains committed and enthusiastic and wishes to formalise her business and work closely with two other TSAs and a project trained artisan in her district immediately after the SSD project.
“My ambition is to build a strong and innovative sanitation enterprise in my district and become one of the top TSA championing household toilets in AMMA by the next 2 years”.