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Policy Note: Should Public Toilets Be Part of Urban Sanitation Solutions for Poor Families Living in Slums?


Shared sanitation in urban areas is commonplace in Ghana. Approximately 73% of the urban population relies on shared sanitation facilities, the highest of any urban area in the world.(1) Pay-per-use public toilets are a particular type of shared sanitation facility, and, in Ghana, these typically cost between 15 to 30 pesewas per use (US $0.08–0.15).(2) In 2006, it was found that 41% of households in Accra, Ghana rely on public toilets.(3) Due to the cramped nature of Accra’s urban communities, construction of private toilets is often neither spatially nor financially feasible. However, public toilets do not meet the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF’s Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation’s definition of “safely managed” sanitation. This can create a disincentive to use public finances to build and safely manage public toilets even though they may be the only viable option in the short and medium term.(4) Poor sanitation costs Ghanaians up to