Ghana Together works with our Ghanaian friends of Western Heritage Home, a Ghanaian-registered and managed non-profit, to improve social, educational, and health conditions in Axim, Ghana. Together we accomplish projects, connect WHH to resourceful individuals and organizations, and create sustainable programs. We make a real difference to real people in a local, grassroots effort. Our website at tells our story.

Oct 26, 2016

Engineers Without Borders Invitation to Ghana Travelogue---See YOU There!!

We are happy to post this invitation to a Travelogue on the recent Engineers Without Borders visit to Axim. (You saw our last News Update...if not, scroll down a bit). Put on your best Ghanaian "duds" and we'll see you there!!


Hello All,

Please join us for the Ghana Travelogue on Wednesday 11/9 from 5:30-7:00 at Mount Baker Theater's Encore Room (entrance off Champion Street), in Bellingham, WA.

This event is free, and open to the public (donations accepted). Please feel free to bring your family, friends, coworkers, etc. to hear about our recent trip to Axim, Ghana to evaluate the performance of our sanitation project built in 2014. This was our chapter's fourth visit to Axim, and it's great to see all of the progress that has been made. 

Please post the attached flier at your school, office, library, favorite coffee shop, or on your favorite bulletin board.

See you there!!

Colleen Mitchell

(And if you haven't yet, please vote for our Kenya water supply project on Penetron's Facebook page by midnight tonight!! We are competing to win grant funding to help improve water supply for the residents of Kiritiri, Kenya.) 


Oct 21, 2016

Engineers Without Borders Evaluate UDDT-style Toilets in Axim, Ghana

Yes, we're into toilets again!! Bear with us...:)
Thank you, Pacific Northwest Chapter of Engineers Without Borders, for revisiting Axim to evaluate the “urine diversification/dehydration (dry) toilets” (UDDTs) and generally taking an in-depth look at all things “toilets.”
Colleen Mitchell (you’ve met her before in prior News Updates) and Evan Dahl traveled to Axim this Sept, primarily to evaluate the first UDDT in the Axim/Nzema East area.

Colleen Mitchell, Evan Dahl with sunglasses, and one of UDDT contractor's staff in Axim, Ghana. They are examining the growing area behind one of the UDDTs, which has been fertilized for nearly three years by urine.
They were hosted by our Western Heritage Home affiliates in Axim: James Kainyiah, Chair, and Evans Arloo, Operations Manager. Thank you!

In 2013-2014, this EWB chapter designed, funded, traveled to Axim to initiate, oversaw building, and trained students and staff for a new-design UDDT-type toilet at the Axim Catholic-Government Junior High School.

Colleen Mitchell in 2013 just prior to building a new toilet. This was the sole toilet at the Catholic-Government JHS School, for about 200 students

Current toilet at the Catholic-Gov't JHS, thanks to the Pacific Northwest Chapter of Engineers Without Borders. In Sept 2016, having been in use for about three years, Colleen and Evan evaluated this toilet thoroughly as to use, maintenance, design considerations, etc.
We, with our Western Heritage Home affiliates based in Axim, helped a bit by finding a potential school, introducing the concept to school leaders, staff, and parents, and generally using our experience in Axim to pave the way.
And, based on the success and improvements we saw at the EWB’s initial project, we of Ghana Together funded and built two more prototype UDDTs at the Methodist-Government Primary/JHS School, and a smaller one for the young male students at the Community Development Vocational Technical Institute.

Toilet at the Methodist-Gov't School for primary students in early 2015

New UDDT type toilet funded by Ghana Together at the Methodist Government School, in March 2016. We used EWB's design, with some changes based on input from local experience, and the same contractor
But, it was time for the expert EWB engineers to evaluate the viability of the UDDT installations in Axim.
Certainly, these toilets are not the highly-desired, WC-flush-type---we understand that--- but given Axim's current infrastructure development, this concept is a big step forward, and makes sense,especially for children and youth in schools. (Note that about half of Ghana’s 20.000 public schools are entirely without toilets, as are thousands of private schools.)

Evan and Colleen found that, generally, the UDDT concept is working out well.
Some positives:

·         good support and promise of protection while visiting in the area from the Municipal Chief Executive

·         no discharge of untreated waste that can contaminate water sources

·         students clean their UDDT once/week

·         paper and cloth/paper menstrual supplies can go right with waste and it don’t have to be burned or buried separately

·         best toilets students have, so they “hold it” until they get to school

·         soap hanging from a rope is very good—encouraging kids to wash hands after every use

·         urinal size is ok

·         no odor present in inactive chambers

·         compost was high-quality, dry, soil-like

·         students and teachers are catching on to the use of red/green plugs to signal which chambers are in use and which are sealed for a year

·         teachers who had no toilet at their schools for themselves really appreciate the dedicated “teacher stall”
Colleen and Evan met with community leaders, school staffs, and students. They GOT a lot of feedback---they GAVE a lot of feedback!

They left detailed notes/report for each school for recommended changes and improvements.

They and Western Heritage Home representatives also visited the local rubber plantation, which also uses the “dry toilet” concept, along with the fertilizer produced, in the villages located on their lands. There are others in the Axim area, such as coconut farmers, who have expressed tentative interest in the fertilizer produced by these toilets.

It is our hope that the three prototype UDDTs now in Axim, used by students from kindergarten through young adult vocational students, will provide local leaders sufficient information to use this design in future toilet construction.
This is NOT just about providing toilets, although we'd love to build more!!

MOSTLY, it's about bringing to folks in Axim this workable concept to build better toilets, requiring only local materials, labor, and expertise.
 Axim area leaders now have detailed information from the local contractors who actually did the construction; technical drawings and details from EWB; evaluations from meeting with Colleen and Evan; extensive published technical literature we’ve supplied about UDDTs worldwide; and ample feedback from the actual day-to-day teachers and students who use the UDDTs.
Sure, there can be ongoing improvements to the concept—but these 3 toilets set a new benchmark.

The trick, we well understand, is usually not the lack of sincere desire on the part of leaders, but the persistent lack of funds.
New UDDT toilet funded by Ghana Together at the Community Development Vocational Technical Institute and newly opened about two weeks ago. This is for 40-50 male students only, and therefore is smaller. The guys had no toilet at all prior to this one.
Just a little backstory here:
Ghana is having a national election, too, as a firmly democratic country. What struck us about THEIR election is the pledge (the “Manifesto”) by one of the Presidential candidates, made at the Banquet of the State House on Sept 14, 2016 that, if elected, he will end the “age-old menace of open defecation” by 2021!

Great goal, but tempered by the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey 2014, which found twenty-one percent of Ghanaians have no access to a toilet and still use the bush or open field for defecation. And this is even worse in rural areas, such as Axim, where it reported at least thirty-four percent of the population still practice open defecation.
This is a call to action for Ghana’s leaders. We hope the efforts of EWB, to share knowledge that is being used successfully in many parts of the developing world, and with help from us, will help improve the situation for folks in at least one town in Ghana.
NOW, we ask you to click on the Ashley-Vance Engineering website link below.

Then make sure to click at the end of the brief article, where it says “click HERE to see the video…”  

(Evan is employed by the Ashley & Vance Engineering Company.)
NOTE: Readers, especially Ghanaians, interested in more details can contact us at info@Ghana and we’ll get you connected.
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We are a registered 501c3 non-profit, ID 26-2182965