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25% of Ghanaians engage in open defecation

Open defecation continues to remain a major global sanitation and health challenge, contributing to an estimated 1.6 million deaths every year.

Open defecation

Evidence indicates that about 25% of the rural Ghanaian population still practice open defecation due to a lack of access to basic sanitation facilities, drifting the country from achieving universal access to sanitation by 2030.

Women, particularly those in rural areas, are disproportionately affected by open defecation, facing heightened health risks, harassment, and a loss of dignity.

Even though previous studies on open defecation in Ghana exist, they lack national representation and neglect women in rural residents who are disproportionally affected by the repercussions of open defecation.

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While Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target 6.2 aims to end open defecation (OD) globally by 2030, the latest data from the 2022 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) reveals Ghana remains on track to meeting this target.

Open defecation remains higher in rural areas than the urban areas with 39% of rural households practicing OD according to the report. 12% of urban households per the report also practice OD, a figure still well above the 0% target for 2030.

The Greater Accra Region is the only region with access to basic sanitary service above the national set target with 40% of its population having access.

All other 15 regions have basic sanitary access of less than 30% with the Savannah region having the lowest percentage of households with basic sanitary services at a paltry 11%.

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In Greater Accra, basic drinking water services are available in 98% of households, contrasting with the North East region where only 43% of households have access to such services.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), WASH-related illnesses led to 7,653 deaths in Ghana in 2019. This equates to an average of 21 people per day, illustrating the alarming reality of almost one person succumbing to preventable WASH-related diseases every hour.

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