Poor sanitation in Ghana (Kumasi in perspective)

SANITATION DAY1 People cleaning their vicinity

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 Source: Nuhu Binyipoaya Mahama Samiwu

By: Nuhu Binyipoaya Mahama Samiwu


This article provides a study of sanitation situation in Kumasi, Ashanti Region. It examines the challenges with respect to sanitation and waste management and its likely effects. Like many towns and cities in Ghana, residents of Kumasi have not been educated and taught the habit of, and hence how to properly dispose of waste, especially, solid waste. With no options, most dump them indiscriminately within the city. This further explains the inability of government and local authorities to deal with sanitation and waste management in the city. This article has some suggested solutions to curtail this challenge across the nation.

A brief about analysis of Kumasi

Kumasi is a city in Ashanti Region and also the capital of the region and the second largest city in Ghana. It (Kumasi) is among the largest metropolitan areas in Ghana with a population of 2.599million as October 2016. Kumasi is approximately 500km north the Equator and 200km north the Gulf of Guinea. The city is alternatively known as The Garden City due to its many beautiful species of flowers and plants. Kumasi was founded in 1680.

Kumasi is the second most industrialized city in Ghana behind Accra. Various forms of business activities take place in this city! It is the wealthiest city in the region due to the large gold deposits that have been mined in the area. It (Kumasi) has some of the renowned schools in the country both second cycle and tertiary. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi Technical University, University of Education, Kumasi, among others are some of the tertiary institutions. In terms of second cycle, schools include Prempeh College, Opoku Ware Senior High, Kumasi High, T. I. AMASS, Yaa Asantewaa Senior High. Kumasi has a major advantage of having many places with attraction sites in Ghana for tourists. Among some of the tourists sites are the Manhyia Palace Museum, Prempeh II Jubilee Museum, Okomfo Anokye Sword, Akwasidae Ceremony, Kumasi Zoo, and many others. The city also has an international airport and with some of the best healthcare facilities such as Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital among others.


A key challenge facing many developing countries in the world undergoing rapid urbanization is the issue of sanitation and waste management. Clean-Ghana.site, a sub-division of Ghana Leadership Union, has its mission to work with Ghana’s leadership to protect Ghana’s good image and clean Ghana now. Clean-Ghana.site's national vision is to keep Ghana clean and healthy. Based on the above stated mission and vision, Clean-Ghana.site has taken a step and conducted a survey in some parts of the nation with Kumasi inclusive with regards to sanitation. In the survey, a minimum of 40 residents’ views are taken and based on the views and the physical environment, clean-ghana.site came up with this article.


Sanitation refers to the maintenance and delivery of clean, hygienic conditions that help prevent disease through services such as drinking water supply, garbage collection and safe disposal of human waste.

Ghana as a nation has performed poorly in the area of sanitation due to a lot of factors. These factors include bad attitudes of its citizens, inadequate education on the importance of sanitation, improper planning by local authorities and agencies in charge of sanitation, and the failure to enforce of sanitation laws by the government and other stakeholders. It is of no surprise when Ghana was ranked as the world’s 7th worst performing country by the World Health Organisation in 2015. In this, Kumasi is also a contributor to this bad image to this nation of ours. Kumasi as a cosmopolitan city has all kinds of characters by all kinds of people.


A survey conducted in about 3 areas within Kumasi between the period of 10th February and 21st February, 2017 has the details as follows. The 3 areas are; Sawaba, Alabar/Aboabo Station, Roman Hill and Adum. Residents (43) were interviewed, and they are between the ages of 20 and 50. In answering a question regarding Ghana among countries with poor sanitation, all the 43 interviewees agreed that Ghana is among countries with poor sanitation. This represents 100 percent in the percentage terms. In rating (1-10) the sanitation in Ghana, 32 of the rated the interviewees representing 74.4% rated the sanitation in Ghana between 8-10 and the remaining 11 representing 25.6% rated the sanitation between 4-7. Also, when these interviewees were asked if they will prefer to continue burning trash to pollute the environment, 37 of them (86%) disagreed to the burning of trash and the rest (14%) agreed to the burning of trash. Their reason was that they have no alternative way of disposing of the trash than to burn it.

This did not end there, the interviewer went further and asked the sample residents if they prefer to cover the exposed soil with lawn grass, shrubbery and other plants to preserve the ecology. Out of the 43 sample, 12 residents (27.9%) preferred this option and the 31 left (72.1%) disagreed to this. Some of the 31 interviewees said the government can cover its lands with the lawn grass and other plants and the private individuals would have to decide on what may suit them. Others also believe that when lawn grass, shrubbery and trees are planted, citizens would be walking on them which will kill the dream of the covering of the exposed soil.

The interviewer again, sought the opinions of the interviewees with respective their preference in relation to open gutters, covering of opened gutters and underground sewage system. 42 residents representing 97.7% preferred that opened gutters should be covered and the underground sewage system adopted in the country. Some of these residents believe that when the opened gutters are covered, it would help the visually impaired in terms falling into the gutters and it would again prevent people from dumping solid waste into the gutters which choked the gutters. Some also suggested that a provision should be made to enable people to enter into the gutters and clean should the gutters be choked. Only a single person disagreed to this option with the opinion that it cannot be done.

When asked if residents should be taxed with small amount in order to help run the nation’s sanitation, all the 43 (100%) disagreed to this. Their reason is that the citizens pay tax. The writer went further and interrogated these residents as to whose duty is to keep the country clean. The entire sample of residents agreed that it is the duty of both the citizens and the government.

The table below is a summary of the results of the survey. The questionnaires have ‘a) agree and b) disagree’ as options except questions 2 and 7 which have ‘a) 1-3, b) 4-7, c) 8-10’ and ‘a) citizens, b) government and c) both’ as options respectively.

Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5 Q6 Q7

1 A C A A A B C

2 A C A A A B C

3 A C A A A B C

4 A C A A A B C

5 A C A A A B C

6 A C A A A B C

7 A C A A A B C

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42 A B B B A B C

43 A B B B B B C

Causes of poor sanitation in Kumasi

The sample interviewees according to them, the poor sanitation in the metropolitan assembly is due to a number of factors which include weak enforcement of the sanitation laws, bad attitudes of residents, inadequate sanitation education, lack of dustbins at public places, lack of motivation for the sanitation workers (Zoomlion) and failure of the local authorities to take sanitation serious. It is pathetic when the interviewer listened to one of the sanitation workers on one radio station in Kumasi on the 28th February, 2017 lamenting the bad treatment they receive from governments. The worker on that day complained that their monthly salaries from this job are Ghs100 and cannot cater for them and their families; and the most pitiful aspect is that this amount is not paid on time. There seems to be no government protection of the rights of these workers.

Likely effects of the poor sanitation

Poor sanitation has significant negative effects on citizens and the national economy as well. Some of the negative effects of poor sanitation in Kumasi as well as Ghana include the discouragement of tourist trade in the country. According to the former mayor of the city under the John Mahama led government in 2014, Kojo Bonso, the filth and degradation of the environment in the metropolis is scaring visitors and tourists away from Kumasi. The former mayor again said the one-time Garden City is losing all its greenery because of the taking over of pavements and other places in the city by the residents. Tourism is one of the sources of which government earns revenue and its unattractiveness will bring less revenue which will have adverse impact on the economy.

Another effect is the likelihood of citizens contracting diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, cholera, etc. The opened gutters with filth, stagnant water bring mosquitoes which effect residents with malaria and open defecation means houseflies will sit on the human waste and bring the germ to effect the food we eat to spread diarrhea and cholera. All these diseases claim the lives of people. The writer listened to Luv fm in Kumasi and it was reported an average of 4 children pass on each day at the Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital due to the lack of space. The question that came into the writer’s mind is what are the causes of these innocent children’s illness?

Another problem is that the opened and choked gutters cause flood, death and injuries. The floods displace residents of affected areas every year and properties are destroyed. On days of heavy rainfall, residents are likely to fall into these open gutters which eventually may cause their deaths or injuries. According to graphic online, 9th January, 2002, three lives were claimed when there was a 3hr downpour caused flooding in Accra. Another incident happened at Agege near Dansoman in Accra after a 20 year old girl fell into a flooded gutter on June 2, 2015.

Suggested solutions

The following are some of the suggested solutions by the sample residents and the writer.

1. Opened gutters should be covered and underground sewage system adopted to prevent some of the negative effects stated above.

2. Exposed soil should be covered with lawn grass, shrubbery and perhaps plants to preserve the ecology and beautify the environment.

3. Stationary dustbins (to prevent theft by the public) should be provided at public places to prevent the citizens from throwing solid waste indiscriminately.

4. Victims who litter the environment should be fined. Sanitation laws should be properly enforced by the government and other stakeholders.

5. The government should introduce systems and methods of recycling of waste.

6. Education on sanitation should be intensified.

7. Sanitation workers should be motivated and seen valuable in the sector.

8. Adequate waste carriage vehicles should be provided.


Sanitation in the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly is very poor which needs much attention to be paid to in order to curb this challenge. The residents seem to have given up hope and hence appear not to be concerned. The government and its agencies as well as the local authorities must pay attention to the causes and suggested solutions stated above to aid them plan properly on sanitation issues.

It is the writer’s hope that this article will yield the needed results as planned.

Thank you

By: Nuhu Binyipoaya Mahama Samiwu

E-mail: nuhumsbinyipoaya@yahoo.com


1. www.lonelyplanet.com

2. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/kumasi

3. Ash FM (101.1MHz), Kumasi; 28th February, 2017.

4. www.graphic.com.gh

5. Luv FM (99.5MHz), Kumasi; 10th of March, 2017

6. www.myjoyonline.com

7. CIA Wold Fackbook

Columnist: Nuhu Binyipoaya Mahama Samiwu