World Toilet Day: Open Defecation in Ghana has not ended


Journalist capturing someone defecating

World Toilet Day (WTD) is a United Nations (UN) observance, on November 19, to take action. It is a day to raise awareness about all people who do not have access to a toilet despite the human right to water and sanitation.

The purpose of World Toilet Day is to raise awareness about the lack of sanitation in parts of the world (especially in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia where access to improved sanitation is very low), and to encourage the policies that increase sanitation access among the poor.

The World Toilet Organization (WTO), have promoted World Toilet Day for years; hence, In 2013, the United Nations(UN) officially recognized November 19 as World Toilet Day in a bid to make sanitation for all a global development priority. It deemed the practice of open-air defecation as “extremely harmful” to public health.

According to United Nations (UN), the provision of proper toilets could save the lives of more than 200,000 people in the world. The countries where open defecation is most widely practiced are the same countries with the highest numbers of under-five child deaths, high levels of under-nutrition and poverty, and large wealth disparities.

“Equality and Dignity” is the theme of World Toilet Day 2014; thus, the campaign will inspire action to end open defecation and put spotlight on how to access improved sanitation.

Ghana began marking the day in 2009 even when the United Nations (UN) had not officially recognized to celebrate such day.

Last year’s commemoration brought together government institutions, the private sector, NGOs, Development Partners, children and youth of Ghana to discuss and build consensus on issues of sanitation in Ghana.

This situation of open defecation has been in existence for a very long time and still going on in this 21st century: with the aim of celebrating World Toilet Day, intensive campaigns to provide more toilet facilities to put an end to such activity are embarked upon.

Moreover, over one billion people defecate in the open due to lack of proper toilet facilities. Having to defecate openly infringes on human safety and dignity. Women and girls risk rape and abuse as they wait until night falls because they lack access to a toilet that offers privacy.

However, the situation has become very appalling upon which young people are losing their lives as a result of defecating near a big gutter or in a bush at night where wild animals can cause harm.

People especially those in the rural areas are suffering due to the absence of toilet facilities or few toilets facilities serving more people in an area.

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After pondering on the existence of the WTD celebration and the ongoing open defecation activity, these questions came to mind: “What is the significance of celebrating World Toilet Day? What are the strategies or measures government is putting in place to end open defecation as far as the WTD is concerned?”

Open defecation can end when the government together with NGOs concerned engage in a massive project to construct more toilet facilities to each household in the country especially to those in the rural areas.

In addition, more seminars and public education must be organized to involve all the citizens on sharing ideas on how to provide possible means to ensure proper sanitation in the country as part of celebrating the World Toilet Day.

I think the media should give more publicity on the celebration to create the awareness to the public to also observe such a day by keeping the environment including the toilets clean and avoid open defecation to ensure sanitation in the country.


Written by Dorcas Aba Annan