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Taking loans to build toilets ’embarrassing’ – Inusah fumes

Alhaji Inusah Fuseini

The Government’s decision to borrow money, some of which will be used to build toilet facilities nationwide, has left the Member of Parliament for Tamale Central, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, upset and baffled.

He believes Ghana is at a stage where it ought not to seek money from outside to provide something as basic as toilet facilities, saying “our incapacity to take care of our sanitation has manifested itself in taking loans.”

Mr. Fuseini was speaking on the Floor of Parliament after a joint committee of Finance and Works and Housing, tabled a report seeking approval for an additional loan facility of $45.7 million from the International Development Bank to finance a sustainable rural water and sanitation project.

This project is to help expand access to, and ensure sustainability of water supply and sanitation services in rural and small-town communities in six regions of Ghana.

The MP’s initial comments on the matter, were to challenge the basis for seeking the $45.7 million when the scope of an earlier loan of $ 70 million, is yet to be accounted for.

Without demeaning the importance of toilets in Ghana, he followed this up by expressing his disappointment as part of the reasons for the loan facility. “We are told that part of the component of the project will be used to build toilets. We know toilets are very important, but must we be taking facilities to build toilets? Do we need to go outside, make a case with our development partners for money to build toilets? I just simply can’t get it.”

According to the U.N. 2.5 billion people do not have access to toilet facilities, most of which are in developing countries like Ghana.

Ghana’s problems with open defecation are well documented, with local government criticized in the past for issuing permits to some persons to construct structures without toilets.

Mr. Fuseini asserted that “we ought as a people to know that building toilets for us in our homes and for public use will go a long way to improve our sanitation.” He suggested further that, in the past, “we have passed laws in this country to raise taxes to improve the delivery of certain services.” “60 years after independence, we still think that we have to borrow to build a toilet in communities. Mr. Speaker, It might be laughable, but I think that we need a change of mindset… when we go to our development partners to look for money, we must be looking for money to do more serious things and not building toilets.”

This notwithstanding, Mr. Fuseini said he supported the approval of the loan and called for more accountability.

“Mr. Speaker, your committee must be forthcoming with the expanded scope of works that has warranted the accessing of an additional $45 million to complete the project,” he appealed.

Government plan for toilet facilities

The government has indicated that, it intends to construct toilet facilities in various homes across the country as an effective measure of addressing open defecation, following threats by the World Bank to withdraw support to Ghana if measures are not taken to address sanitation challenges.

The World Bank is reportedly unhappy that many Ghanaians still do not have access to basic sanitary facilities, particularly household toilets.

The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Kofi Adda, has indicated that he is targeting the provision of one million toilets nationwide.

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