Open defecation costs the country approximately $79million annually, Mr. Raphael Godlove Ahenu, the Chief Executive Officer of Global Media Foundation (GLOEMF), a media advocacy non-governmental organisation said on Monday.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), on the sidelines of a community assessment on sanitation carried by GLOMEF in the Ada West District, Mr. Ahenu said poor sanitation which included open defecation, cost the nation $290million every year.
The community assessment, according to Mr. Ahenu, was to enable the NGO to develop a community project to tackle poor sanitation and open defecation in the District.
Mr. Ahenu indicated that despite the huge amount spent on sanitation, the country addressed only 15 per cent of its sanitation problems.
Recently Ghana was ranked second in Africa after Sudan for open defecation, an indication that more than five million Ghanaians lacked household toilets.
Mr. Ahenu called on the Ada West District Assembly to up measures and collaborate with key stakeholders such as religious bodies to address open defecation in the District, especially at Sege, the District capital.
He expressed regret that sanitation situation in the District was not the best as it threatened the lives of people especially pregnant women and children.
“It is embarrassing and irritating to see people defecating openly,” Mr. Ahenu said and called on the Ada District Assembly and the traditional authorities to be more proactive in addressing the problem.
He said Ghana could achieve the universal access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation by 2030, if more investment was made in improving sanitation facilities.
There was also the need to protect and restore water bodies, and related eco-systems such as wetlands and rivers to mitigate the impact of poor sanitation and open defecation.
Mr. Ahenu said attitudinal and behavioural change were important in tackling poor sanitation, and stressed the need for strict enforcement of sanitation bye-laws and building regulations which demanded at least a toilet in every household.
He said if huge budgetary commitment was not made into the sector, it would be extremely difficult for the Ministry of Sanitation to tackle the daunting sanitation challenge.