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Opinions of Sunday, 20 November 2011

Columnist: Gomez, Ato P K

World Toilet Day today was19th of November

*Addressing Our ‘Call of Nature’ Problem*

It’s official; Ghana has a sh*t, sorry, toilet problem. “11% of Ghanaians

have access to improved latrines”, a report carried on ghanaweb recently

informed us (see

General News of Thursday, 19 November 2009).

Put another way, 89% of the population DOESN’T have access to improved

latrines! The report went on to say that: “51 per cent of Ghanaians use

shared latrines or public toilets, which are usually not accepted as

improved facilities”.

So, what about guests to our dear country? Where and how are our foreign

visitors supposed to go to ‘relieve’ themselves. What statement does this

unfortunate situation make about us?

Back in March, 2009, I wrote a piece for ghanaweb on our ‘Toilet problem’

in Ghana (see

Article of Friday, 27 March 2009).

Responses were varied, ranging from the encouraging, down to what can only

be described as “very unhelpful”. It is also an unfortunate human habit

that we are great at talking and criticising, but very slow in offering

solutions to these same problems.

The 19th of November has been designated as *World Toilet Day* and is part

of the efforts to address the overall Sanitation problem in general, of

which Ghana has no shortage of as anyone realistic enough can confirm.

“In 2001 WTO declared *19th November* World Toilet Day (WTD). Today it is

celebrated in over 19 countries with over 51 events being hosted by various

water and sanitation advocates. World Toilet Organization created WTD to

raise global awareness of the struggle 2.6 billion face every day without

access to proper, clean sanitation. WTD also brings to the forefront the

health, emotional and psychological consequences the poor endure as a

result of inadequate sanitation.

WTD's popularity is gaining momentum, and in 2010 there were 51 events

spanning 19 countries. Our "Big Squat" campaign generated 24 "Big Squats"

globally and in Singapore over 600 squatters joined the cause in six

locations island-wide. WTO would love to see our day become "The" event

that represents the sanitation crisis globally, and we strongly encourage

our members, volunteers, the community, media and partners to get behind

our cause and support our day. (

Maybe this is also the right time for Ghanaians to start thinking of

practical ideas to address this basic, but important health problem? In my

March, 2009 piece, I painted a broad picture and argued why we should

urgently address this problem.

As I don’t also think any one person has a monopoly on ideas or solutions,

I would like to propose that we open a ‘Solutions Bank’.

What this means is that people will send in ideas they can come up with or

any practical projects they have undertaken or seen somewhere. These will

then be put up and people will comment on them.

People could also put forward suggestions such as campaigns to put pressure

on those officials charged with the responsibility for providing the

physical infrastructure, not forgetting the individual’s own responsibility

in looking after these facilities once they have been provided.

As I am making a suggestion that the ‘Solutions Bank’ should be filled with

contributions from everyone, I will end this piece here and offer my email

address as the initial contact.

I also hope one of the suggestions will be how to replace my address as the

contact point and how we may communicate the ‘solutions’ to the wider world.

Let’s look forward to a Ghana which is free from a ‘toilet problem’ and,

hence, having to ‘talk sh*t’ only for the right reasons.

Ato P K Gomez