The RHIT student chapter of EWB has been given final approval to travel to Ghana on their first implementation trip to the community of Gomoa Gyaman! It’s been since August 2013 that the chapter first traveled to Gomoa Gyaman on an assessment trip in which the team met with community leaders and residents to learn about the needs of the community. The team learned that the community suffers from a sanitation issue due to a lack of adequate places to go to the bathroom. Much of the community practices open defecation while using the limited privacy of brush and other plants. The bathroom facilities that do exist are in very poor condition and pose structural safety threats. Children in the community are at high risk of contracting fecal-born diseases as most of the surface waters are polluted with human waste.
After two years of overcoming many design and logistical obstacles, we are returning to the community to begin construction on the first of four ventilated pit latrines. Each of the four latrines is designed to service one quarter of the community, roughly 800 residents, for at least five years before needing to be emptied. During our previous assessment trip, we learned that the community was not comfortable handling their waste themselves, making composting and other latrine types unfeasible. A professional waste removal service from a nearby city is able to be contracted to remove the waste as needed.
With less than two weeks until departure, the team is the most prepared they have been to make the largest impact in the community of Gomoa Gyaman! Stay tuned for our post-trip recap!
Having finished our program in the Dominican Republic (which included the construction of a septic system and retrofitting an existing building with a hurricane proof roof to increase the quality and quantity of care provided by a medical clinic, as well as constructing latrines in a disease-ridden community nearby), our next program, starting this summer, will be in a brand new community. We will be returning to Ghana, this time to the community of Gomoa Gyaman, about 50 miles from our previous program in Obodan where we constructed a brooder house and a community center. Everyone is very excited about the prospects of this collaboration and we can’t wait to see what working together over the next 5 years will lead to!
The Gomoa Gyaman community has about 5,000 indigenous citizens and over 100,000 in the surrounding region. The community is primarily agrarian and has no major public infrastructure except for a school, church, and public market square. They lack key infrastructure that will help them realize their mission to provide opportunities for development for the community members. The elders, in conjunction with the traditional leaders and Gomoa Gyaman Youth Association, have concluded that four public latrines strategically located throughout the community will curb the health and environmental hazards of improper disposal of human waste.
Sanitation is critical to the welfare of this community and the provision of compost latrines will go a long way to improve the health of the community as a whole as well as provide fertilizer for their crops. A healthy community will lead to more productive citizens and improve the wealth of all. Other possible future projects with this community include a solar-powered library, a senior secondary school, and a health clinic which would further augment the health and education of community members.
While this is a large undertaking, with a bigger scope than all of our previous projects, this collaboration will lead to a great experience for both parties. In order for this to be successful, we need your support. Traveling to Ghana costs roughly $1,600 per person, and in order to maximize the number of students who can benefit from this great opportunity to travel and work with people from a very different culture than their own, extra fundraising is necessary.
Our preliminary budget estimates that the upcoming assessment trip will cost roughly $13,900, allowing 6 students and our professional engineering mentor to travel to the community to learn about the community and their greatest needs, as well as to collect the necessary technical data relating to the design of the compost latrines.
Our second implementation trip to Batey Santa Rosa in the Dominican Republic took place at the end of February, 2013. Our project’s goal in Batey Santa Rosa is to build twelve latrines for the community, which will help limit the spread of fecal-born parasites and disease.
During our first implementation trip we constructed three latrines and over the next six months the community successfully built three latrines on their own, using the skills and knowledge that we taught them. The second implementation project was a one week trip where six students and two mentors inspected the latrines that they had built and then constructed three additional latrines; this brings the total number up to nine latrines, three shy of the project’s goal.
Next year we will return to inspect the final three latrines that the community plans to construct and will bring the project to a close as we begin the process of transitioning to our new project in Ghana.