May 2021

The Challenges of Sustaining Open Defecation Free (ODF) Communities in Rural Ghana


With 30% of its rural population still practicing open defecation, Ghana is not on track to achieve universal access to sanitation by 2030, the objective set forth by Sustainable Development Goal 6.2. To meet this objective, open defecation would have to decline six times faster than in the past twenty years. Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) has been a key component of Ghana’s National Environmental Sanitation Strategy since 2010 and has led to over 2,000 communities attaining open defecation free (ODF) status. Yet, little is known about the sustainability of these achievements. More information on the drivers of and barriers to ODF sustainability would help decision makers and implementers refine rural sanitation strategies for the next decade.

Key Findings:

  • The majority of communities did not maintain ODF status: toilet coverage was less than 80% and open defecation was common.
  • Toilet ownership generally translated into use. Open defecators were primarily those without a functional toilet.
  • Toilet collapse was widespread and was the primary reason ODF status was not sustained.
  • Poor households were the most likely to revert to open defecation.
  • Remoteness, absence of rocky soils, and fines against open defecation were correlated with higher toilet coverage in the community.

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In collaboration with USAID and Tetra Tech.

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