One hundred and forty-two gender and disability-friendly sanitation facilities have been constructed in six districts in the Northern and Upper East regions. The facilities are expected to support 122,000 people, including children, in the beneficiary areas.
The beneficiary districts include Mamprugu-Moaduri and East and West Mamprusi districts in the Northern Region. The rest are Talensi and Kassena-Nankana West districts in the Upper East Region.
The programme is under a three-year Integrated Sanitation, Hygiene and Nutrition for Education (I-SHINE) project being funded by Helmsley Charitable Trust at a cost of $4.3 million.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Ghana, a non-governmental organisation, is the implementing agency.
Inaugurating one of the disability-friendly sanitation facilities at the English and Arabic Primary School at Paga in the Upper East Region to commemorate World Toilet Day, the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Programme Manager of CRS Ghana, Dr Philip Darko, indicated that the I-SHINE project had two main objectives: to make children attend WASH-friendly schools regularly and to enable individuals live in communities free of open defecation.
He said between 2014 and 2016,142 gender and disability-friendly school latrines for children were constructed in the six districts.
"The I-SHINE project is built around three pillars: Food and Nutrition, Water and Sanitation, and Hygiene," Dr Darko indicated.
According to the manager, the lack of WASH-friendly schools affected attendance and learning among pupils.
For instance, he noted that the lack of clean and gender-friendly sanitation facilities discouraged girls from hygienically managing menstruation, resulting in their absence from school during such periods.
Secondly, Dr Darko said, 70 per cent of children in the north were exposed to water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, typhoid and schistosomiasis due to the consumption of unsafe water, usage of unclean sanitation facilities and the practice of poor hygiene.
According to him, improved sanitation could reduce diarrhoea rates by 36 per cent. He said only 15 per cent of Ghanaians had access to improved sanitation, which he said was far below the Millennium Development Goal target of 54 per cent.
"Finding ways to improve hygiene behaviours and access to sanitation and to address the issues affecting school retention specifically relating to the quality of the school environment, nutrition and community sanitation is the enormous challenge that the CRS I-SHINE project seeks to address," Dr Darko stated.
The Kassena Nankana West District Chief Executive, Mr George Nonterah, commended CRS and its partners for the facility and pledged the commitment of the assembly to help improve on sanitation in the area.