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Priorities and Sanitation

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From the Sanitation Challenge Ghanasan blog: What stood out during our morning visits with families in Accra was the presence of electronics in their home….in one home we saw a deep freezer that was filled only with a bottle of water and a few other things. In just about every home there was a television, radio, and cell phones (one or two per family member). One family shared that the major costs they encounter are food followed by electricity. The families talked about these costs as priorities….sanitation did not make the top of the list of these priorities. Unemployment is prevalent, and a concern mentioned by many people.

On our neighborhood walk we came across a toilet salesman on the street. He had four ceramic toilets from Germany on sale. Speaking with him we learned that the toilet selection is tied directly to his distribution channel, in this case a relative who lives abroad. It was interesting that in order to install the toilet, it is necessary to engage the services of a plumber, but he said he didn’t know any and never recommended anyone to his customers.

The day’s experiences were also eye opening to just how little internal space there is inside the homes. Also, in contrast to how tidy the home areas are (including court yards), the shared alleys and drains are filthy with signs of flying toilets here and there.

Several questions come to mind. How might we design sanitation solutions that fit different neighborhoods and lifestyles? How might sanitation be made as desirable as electricity? How might the supply chain of sanitation be made more cohesive?

– Svava Atladottir, IDEO Field Team

Check out more insights from on the ground over at the Ghanasan blog

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