July 2018: Enforcement of Sanitation Bye-Laws – The Tamale Experience

July 2018: Enforcement of Sanitation Bye-Laws – The Tamale Experience

In this edition …

Enforcement of sanitation bye-laws by Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) has become topical in Ghana as the country struggles to improve its standing in terms of access to and use of improved household toilets. This edition of Toilet Agenda shares lessons on enforcement of sanitation bye-laws within the Urban CLTS Project by the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly as shared at the 2018 Sanitation Stocktaking Forum held in Kumasi.

Hon Idrissu Musah: MCE of Tamale Mtropolitan Assembly


Developing and enforcing sanitation bye-laws is the responsibility of individual MMDAs in Ghana. While several of them have the bye-laws, non-enforcement remains a major issue in dealing with sanitation-related high-risk behaviours. Non-gazetting of the bye-laws, interferences by political and traditional leaders, absence of courts, limited number of prosecutors, non-prioritization of sanitation offences by the courts and low penalty units among others have been cited as some of the major factors militating against enforcement of sanitation bye-laws.

With the increasing spate of lawlessness in the country, prosecution remains a very important component of ensuring a sound environmental health and sanitation. However, weaknesses in enforcement is very widespread and it appears there is no MMDA that has found a breakthrough in this endeavour.

In the implementation of the Urban CLTS approach by the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly (TaMA) since January 2017, enforcement of bye-laws has been made a necessary component and lessons shared at a forum in Kumasi in July 2018 indicate that there is hope for a breakthrough should the authorities maintain their current posture as far as enforcement concerned.

Rationale for enforcement

Reports from Tamale indicates a slow response in terms of toilet uptake, meaning that sensitization and behavior change communication alone are not adequate and need to be complemented. Metropolitan authorities have also noticed that most landlords capable of providing toilets in their homes do not see it as a priority. The general public is also mostly unaware of the existing bye-laws and associated sanctions. Again, several engagements with various stakeholders at various levels in the Metropolis (including community durbars) gave a common recommendation that the Assembly must let its bye-laws work, otherwise, people would not comply. These factors and recommendations informed the inclusion of bye laws and enforcement in the implementation of the UNICEF supported Urban CLTS approach within the Tamale Metropolitan Area.

The implementation process

Enforcement of the bye-laws followed the demand creation processes through behavior change communication and the sanitation marketing (including training or latrine construction artisans and promotion of available latrine technologies) which began in early 2017. In January 2018, a six-month moratorium was issued during which time there was intensive publicity and sensitization on the bye-laws and the consequences of the various offenses at the expiry of the moratorium in June 2018.

Sensitization on the moratorium, which started even before it was issued, employed radio and TV jingles, issue of official letters to landlords and institutions, engagement with judges and leaders of political parties, and radio/TV discussions. The existing bye-laws were also reviewed and gazetted, followed by training of Environmental Health staff on prosecution.

Feedback from post-moratorium survey

A post moratorium survey in the Metropolis indicated a sharp rise in the number of latrines constructed during the moratorium and most especially getting to the end of the period. While toilet completion rate from January 2017 to January 2018 was just 496, the rate from February to June 2018 alone (during the moratorium) was 1,178 as depicted in the chart below:


There were, however, mixed reactions to the success of the whole exercise by a section of the landlords surveyed. Those who believed in the success of the exercise (71%) indicated they believed in the ability of TaMA to implement the enforcement phase. They said since the commonest principle is that nobody is above the law, it should be easy to implement. They also said with the level of commitment of the current Metropolitan Chief Executive and his Chief Director, it was going to be possible. There were however some 29% of landlords who thought the enforcement phase was not going to succeed with the reason that the TaMA was noted for empty threats. Again, they did not believe that interference from political and traditional authorities was going to stop, while they also feared that people might riot or rebel should TaMA strengthen its hands too much.

Anticipated threats to the enforcement phase

The moratorium has succeeded in stimulating increased demand for and construction of toilets in the Tamale Metropolis. However, authorities still harbour the fear that it may be difficult to sustain the commitment levels of key stakeholders. Another fear is the tendency of some difficult youth and non-compliant landlords to influence others to rampage if not handled tactically, while the number of trained artisans may be unable to meet the growing demand should the current rate of toilet uptake be sustained or increase during the enforcement phase.

Suggested ways forward

The following suggestions have been made for a way forward:

  • Continuous engagement with key stakeholders for their complete support and commitment especially the leadership of TaMA;
  • Continuous sensitization and education of the general public especially landlords;
  • Exploring all available financial options to enable construction uptake;
  • Training of more artisans to meet the expected increase in demand; and
  • Establishment of a sanitation court.


By Emmanuel Addai