The Impact of Pro-Poor Sanitation Subsidies in Open Defecation-Free Communities in Rural Ghana

The Impact of Pro-Poor Sanitation Subsidies in Open Defecation-Free Communities in Rural Ghana
Community consultation meeting to identify beneficiaries of the subsidy program. Photo credit: Joyce Kisiangani

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Globally, 494 million people practice open defecation. Even after achieving open defecation-free (ODF) status through efforts such as Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), communities, and particularly vulnerable households, may revert back to open defecation, especially when toilet collapse is common and durable toilets are unaffordable. There is increasing interest in pro-poor sanitation subsidies to help address these challenges.

This webinar from USAID’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Partnerships and Learning for Sustainability Project will summarize a study that evaluated the impacts of a pro-poor sanitation subsidy program among 109 post-ODF communities in Northern Ghana. We found that overall sanitation conditions had deteriorated substantially over time since communities achieved ODF status, suggesting a need for approaches beyond CLTS alone. The subsidy program attenuated this decline, primarily among households that were eligible to receive vouchers for durable toilet substructures. Other non-eligible households saw limited effects, as durable toilet products likely remain unaffordable. However, some non-eligible households did benefit through in-compound sharing of eligible households’ subsidized toilets. We estimated that CLTS followed by this subsidy program would benefit a greater number of households than CLTS alone, but at higher costs per household that no longer practices open defecation or upgrades to a durable toilet as a result.


  • Joyce Kisiangani, Aquaya Institute
  • John Trimmer, Aquaya Institute

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