Human excreta for energy
Accra, April 2, Ghanadot/GNA –
Mr. Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Minister of Local Government and Rural
Development, on Thursday said human excreta should not be seen
as a waste but resource for energy from biogas and organic
fertilizer for plants.
Speaking at the launch of Safi Sana Ghana Limited (SSGL), an
environmental NGO, in Accra, Mr Yieleh Chireh said urine and
faeces offered tremendous opportunities for organic fertilizer
of equal quality as artificial fertilizer.
SSGL is a company in Ghana founded by the Aqua for All, a Dutch
NGO, which is interested in producing biogas as an energy source
and organic fertilizer for the agricultural market from human
excreta and providing access to water and sanitation by building
toilet blocks in the densely populated areas.
He said worldwide, 2.5 billion people had no access to improved
sanitation whilst 1.2 billion people practiced open defecation,
which was the most dangerous form of all the sanitation
In Ghana, UNICEF has put the percentage of population having
access to improved sanitation at 10 per cent although there is
some level of disparity between the various regions.
Even in the Greater Accra Region where sanitation coverage is
highest, the recent Demographic and Housing Survey indicated
that up to four per cent of the population of the city of Accra
had no toilets and therefore resorted to open defecation.
He said currently in Accra about 58 per cent of the city’s
population lived in low-income areas.
These areas exhibit a wide range of environmental problems such
as excessive congestion, rapid population growth, and inadequate
water supply, lack of basic sanitation facilities and total
disregard of approved land use allocations.
He said lack of sanitation had been identified with poverty and
the leading trigger of diarrhoea diseases, typhoid and cholera
that was known to be one of the biggest infant killers.
There was a need for a change in negative behaviours and
attitudes to sustain the new
measures in ensuring a clean environment to promote good health,
the Minister said.
Mr Yieleh Chireh said due to the gross disregard for approved
development plans most of these areas had evolved into slums.
Provision of household water and sanitation facility is almost
non-existent. Many of the residents, especially women and
children have no choice than to rely on unorthodox methods such
as open defecation and “flying toilets” (toilets in polythene
bags) to satisfy their sanitation needs.
The Minister noted that a well-maintained shared toilet,
communal toilet or public toilet offered a real relief to those
people lacking private toilets at home and this tended to
minimize open defecation and “flying toilets”, which had been
identified as the source of many communicable diseases.
He said most governments were confronted with the high cost of
providing sanitation facilities. This was because people did not
see sanitation services as a utility service that was worth
“Unlike water which is a product that one can consume and
therefore worthy to pay for, defecation is considered as a
waste, worthless, something you want to get rid of and therefore
not worth paying for.”
Mr Yieleh Chireh said Ghanaians needed to see sanitation as a
business serving the bottom of the pyramid which required a
smart mix of financial instruments from equity funders as well
as the government, NGOs and banks that needed cooperation from
consumers, small-scale service entrepreneurs and large scale
processing business partners.
He said Safi Sana would offer the opportunity to skip the highly
expensive and water consuming water flushed toilet and sewer
system in developing suburbs that highly polluted the
environment and led to resource depletion, adding that, it would
be replaced with a system where shared facilities and communal
systems, would lead to effective discharge and re-use.
Nii Nortey Duah, Member of Parliament for Ledzokuku, expressed
his delight for his constituency being selected as the starting
point for the project and gave the assurance that they would
cooperate with them for people to benefit from it.