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.

Nov 21, 2013

Engineers Without Borders Builds New UDDT Type Toilet in Axim, Ghana

More than two hundred students in one of Axim's Junior High Schools have been using this toilet for some years. It was built by parents with what they could muster.

Enter the Northwest Washington Professional Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), located in Bellingham, WA.

Some of members had been in Axim on a water assessment project in 2009, and they couldn’t help but notice that lack of TOILETS is a major deficiency, especially at schools.

So, they researched, wrote proposals, made drawings, convened meeting after meeting, applied for funding…

And, finally---SUCCESS. EWB members Paul A Randall-Gutter and Jennifer Mueller travelled to Axim in late October 2013 to start construction.  They brought back some great photos!

Paul Randall-Gutter, Contractor Emmanuel Appiah,  Jennifer Mueller, and James Kainyiah, Chair of Ghanaian host organization, Western Heritage Home

Fr. Paul Awuah Leading the Groundbreaking Ceremony
After about two years of very hard work by the EWB chapter, a new low-impact, urine-diversion-dry-toilet (UDDT) is being built right this minute at a Junior High School in Central Axim, thanks to these extraordinary engineers.

They also trained students and teachers in the concepts behind this UDDT toilet, which is a new design for the Ghanaians in Axim and perhaps in Ghana.

Students with their new raised garden bed. A Ghanaian National Service worker is coming to help them with a seed nursery and compost pile (Note: Ghanaian university students do a year of national service after graduation)

Students creating posters that explain the concept of the UDDT type of toilet

This EWB chapter is doing an absolutely wonderful job on this project---not only seeing to the construction, but keeping costs within "Ghanaian parameters" for future locally-funded applications. They searched the world's best practices for a design that works without water or electricity, and has been tested in several similar countries, including several hundred schools in Kenya. They paid special attention to  accommodate the needs of girls of junior high age.

Also, the team went to a lot of effort to include training and lots of involvement and input from the local folks who will actually use the new toilet. (You can read more about the team here).

We of Ghana Together (US) and Western Heritage Home (Ghanaian associates) are proud that we helped mid-wife the project.

Not our “baby" but we helped:

…find from the many schools with not-so-good toilets, one that held good chance of success, including leaders and students open to the idea, and also just the right slope of land for this first "test" toilet. (The slope...we hope! The engineers said “think urine DIVERSION…” yikes!)
… took the EWB initial proposal with us to Axim, convened meetings there with key leaders we have built relationships with over the years, and got agreements signed by responsible persons for their share of the proposed project

JHS Toilet Leadership meeting convened by Maryanne Ward of Ghana Together and James Kainyiah in Jan 2012. James and Fr. Paul Awuah at far left. Mrs. Yawson, the Headmistress, center. Others include teacher and parent representatives.

…tucked in drawings on a subsequent trip and worked with James Kainyiah, the Chair of Western Heritage Home (local NGO and host organization), to find contractor Emmanuel Appiah
... tried our best to explain the UDDT concept and the drawings to Mr. Appiah (we are far from engineers here…), and get his buy-in to take on the project

Contractor Emmanuel Appiah on left with associates, James Kainyiah in blue shirt in center. They are holding copies of drawings and technical details (Feb 2013)

…worked with Mr. Kainyiah to keep key leaders in Axim informed and involved, like Mrs. Yawson, the school’s Headmistress, and Fr. Paul Awuah, who is not only a Catholic priest but a dedicated community leader
…and generally helped facilitate communication overall. Along the way, after eight years of working together, we have built relationships with the Axim community, and also have become minor experts in understanding Ghanaian accents (English, but combination of African and British...), phoning Ghana, texting Ghana, emailing Ghana, wiring funds to Ghana...and just plain talking things out. 

James Kainyiah is especially to be thanked for tirelessly seeing to most of the details on the Ghanaian side...not an easy job.

James Kainyiah on his cellphone, maybe talking with us!  

Our mission statement includes this item:
to link Ghanaians with charitable, educational, non-governmental, and non-profit organizations and resourceful individuals that foster personal independence and self-sustaining solutions for community social, health, and educational improvement.

A mouthful, but we mean it. We are absolutely delighted that this EWB project is coming to fruition and we were able to give it a boost!

Stay tuned for the news update about the completed toilet!!
For more information about Ghana Together see
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