Sustainable Latrine Services for the Urban Poor in Ghana (SUSA)

Project summary

Ghana is in the midst of rapid, unplanned urbanization fuelled by migration caused by declining rural agricultural productivity, lack of employment opportunities and effects of climate change. Close to 50% of Ghana’s 23 million residents currently live in urban environments, however, only 27% of urban residents have access to improved sanitation and only 13% are connected to sewerage facilities. The traditional approach to build sanitation facilities have not resulted in significant and sustained sanitation coverage, in particular for the urban poor. Urban latrine uptake is low because existing technologies are poorly designed, in poor condition, unsafe and cost prohibitive. Poor sanitation is the primary cause of diarrheal disease, which accounts for 9% of all deaths in Ghana and 3.1% of DALYs. Furthermore, Ghana’s urban sanitation sector is challenged by organizational and financial shortcomings. The research objective of SUSA-Ghana is to use a multidisciplinary demand-driven approach to build the needed local research capacity to identify existing barriers to and opportunities for improved sanitation, and to explore selected faecal management solutions that residents will use and maintain in poor urban settings. Research will address not only the technical/hygiene elements of sanitation, but also on the legal, political, social and financial aspects needed to create sustainable programs that reduce related morbidity and mortality. In addition, the research aims to identify relevant private partnerships to build, finance, promote and maintain hygienic latrine solutions and will provide a framework for research capacity building within sustainable sanitation in other developing countries.


Project Completion Report:
At the time of application and approval of the SUSA project, “outcomes” were not articulated as part of a log frame etc.

Objective 1: To conduct a project needs assessment and conduct training sessions.

Routine information collected by government departments was reviewed and household and community surveys undertaken, stakeholders interviewed, the study area was mapped and the logistical and administrative project infrastructure established under the guidance of the DHRC. Documents shared with the government and community partners. Field assistants, PhDs and younger DHRC research staff were trained on the use of hand-held computers for surveys. Two interns and from the UoC contributed at no cost to the project.One MSc Anthropology UoC completed studies under the WP.

Objective 2: To understand sanitation preferences and practices among end-users and sanitation service providers across the sanitation lifecycle.

The PhD and MSc student assigned to this objective has completed studies. One additional PhD study (mainly sponsored by the UoC and UG) will be submitted end of September 2016 but has been delayed due to illness. So far one peer reviewed journal article has been published, one paper submitted and two drafts prepared. A spin off of this WP has been a study focusing upon mensuration management among school girls (conducted by SUSA post doc and DHRC staff) with one article under review.

Objective 3. To develop a methodology in which existing latrine technologies and waste management solutions can be implemented based on user preferences and technical infrastructure limitations in rapidly growing townships in Ghana.

A PhD and two MSc studies have been completed. The thesis has resulted in 4 publications in peer reviewed journals and a book chapter. As an output of this WP, SUSA aimed for the drafting of small area urban sanitation Plans. However, this was not accomplished although discussed with the local gov engineering section.

Objective 4: To assess and propose means of reducing health risks across the sanitation lifecycle.

A PhD and two MSc study was completed under this WP. Three peer reviewed papers published and two papers under preparation. Also, educationa material has been developed. This WP involved the training of research students in microbiological sampling and analysis. Protocols established at partner institution in Ghana.

Objective 5. To explore the strengths and weaknesses of selected business models and propose means to increase latrine uptake, waste removal and safe treatment/excreta. PhD and two MSc assigned to the WP has completed studies. Four journal articles published and cases incorporated into teaching curricula at partner institutions in Ghana.

Objective 6: To test how community based participatory methods can be used to improve monitoring and evaluation in the sanitation sector across the sanitation lifecycle.

The PhD has completed studies and one journal article produced and one under preparation.

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