33.5 million

Ghana is known across the world for its cocoa, gold and oil. Exports have fuelled an economic boom, and development has been fast paced – but not everyone is feeling the benefits.

Half of Ghana’s population now lives in towns and cities. But rapid growth has led to slums, with no access to piped water, toilets or proper sewers – leaving families in fear of deadly cholera outbreaks. Only one in five people has a decent toilet.

In the countryside, this figure drops to just one in ten. Water supplies are fragile, and increasing droughts and floods are putting people’s health and livelihoods at even greater risk.

Impressive progress has been made in getting clean water to people – proof that change is possible. But there is still much more to be done.

3.9 million people – over 1 in 10 – don't have clean water close to home.

23.9 million people – almost 75% of the population – don't have a decent toilet of their own.

Diarrhoea kills almost 1,600 children under five every year.

Our work in Ghana

We’ve been getting clean water, decent toilets, and good hygiene to people across Ghana since 1985. We make sure the people left furthest behind benefit – those who are hardest to reach, and those who are being excluded by others.

We work with institutions at all levels: targeting policy makers, pushing for more funding, and nurturing better leadership. By sharing our experience and skills with others, we make sure that the benefits will be felt by as many people as possible, long into the future.

Transforming the school day

With clean water, decent toilets and hygiene education, pupils are free to focus on learning.

Image: WaterAid/ Apag Annankra

Pupils at Kabre Primary School used to rely on a hand-dug well, unprotected from the elements and animals, every time they needed to drink or wash their hands.

We drilled a borehole and built a solar-powered pump to provide not only the school, but the local health centre and wider village too, with a steady supply of clean water.

Now, the school has flushing toilets, separated for boys and girls. Pupils also take part in games to learn about good hygiene practices, like the importance of handwashing, with organisation Right to Play.

Supporting schoolgirls to manage their periods

As well as installing rainwater harvesting tanks at Kayoro School, we've run training sessions on good hygiene and menstruation. Now, girls like Mary and her classmates aren't just equipped with the knowledge they need to manage their own periods safely – they're also sharing it with the rest of their school through educational plays.

Mary Akwose (L), aged 20 sits in class at  Kayoro Junior High School, Kayoro Community, Kassena Nankana West District, Upper East Region, Ghana. February 2019.
We have learned a lot of things about menstrual hygiene... I learned that if we have our period, we don’t have to be scared and we can still do everything like play games.

I teach the younger children in my community about periods… I tell them that periods are normal. The kids always listen and thank me.
Mary, student

Training local heroes to tackle the toilet crisis

Gladys is one of four WaterAid-trained latrine builders in Akundo-Apeelinga. Not long ago, there were no toilets here, so people had no choice but to go in the open, risking disease. Now, families have decent toilets – and the safety, dignity and health they bring.

Gladys, 36, mother of four children, is a latrine artisan, as well as a groundnut and millet farmer, in Akundo - Apeelinga, Ghana. October 2018.
Image: WaterAid/ Apagnawen Annankra

As well as working directly with communities like Gladys' to build toilets and stop open defecation, we influence government policies and planning, to make sure toilets are prioritised in the way they need to be.

We’re also building a network of sanitation experts by sharing our knowledge and skills with other local organisations – so bringing about a bigger, lasting difference throughout the country.

Changing the story for mothers and babies

Image: WaterAid/ Apagnawen Annankra

When Selina Anogwine had her first two children at Busgongo Community Health Centre, the experience was far from pleasant – or safe. With no toilet, she had to use a chamber pot, even when 9 months pregnant. There was no water for her to wash after giving birth, so she had to wait until she got home. Staff struggled to keep the centre clean and infection-free.

But this time around, things are different.

Now the village has a solar-powered water system, and the health centre is equipped with toilets, sinks and showers. Selina, and other mums like her, can give birth in safety and dignity.

Last time I came to this hospital to give birth, there were no toilets or water.

It's so different now. There's water and a shower, as well as toilets, so you can have water to drink and wash after giving birth.

Ready to make a difference? Just £2 a month can help change someone's life.

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Delve deeper into our work

Explore the latest publications, research and policy papers from our work in Ghana.

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