The Old Man at Nyekornakpoe

Nyekornakpoe is a small village of around 250 inhabitants located about 1 kilometer before my village, Abutia Teti. In Ewe, Nyekornakpoe roughly translates to turn and look. As you speed down the road in a taxi to my village you really have to quickly turn your head and look for Nyekornakpoe or you will miss it. The Ghana WASH project has provided Nyekornakpoe with about a dozen household latrines, which have catered to a large part of the community. However, not everyone has benefited from the latrines, because they are only partially subsidized – the beneficiary still foots 60% of the cost of their latrine. Since each latrine can cost almost 1,000 cedis, or about $500, the poorest community members often cannot afford to work with Ghana WASH project to build a latrine.

In Nyekornakpoe I identified a household that was in dire need of a latrine. Just outside of the house people regularly defecate out in the open because they don’t have any other place to go. The house belongs to an old man who wanted to partake in the project, but could not due to a lack of money. I could tell he understood the importance of owning a household latrine, so I spoke to the director of my local NGO, EDSAM, to see how we could get a latrine for him. After some brainstorming, we were able to scrounge up some extra materials in the form of sand, concrete blocks, and labor for the old man. This meant the old man only had to provide about 25% of the cost of his latrine by digging his pit and proving water and stone chippings.

Despite this, the old man still had difficulty providing for his latrine. Perhaps the most difficult part was digging the pit for his latrine. The two options are to perform the backbreaking work yourself or pay a laborer to do it for around 150 cedis. Since he doesn’t have any money, the old man chose the former. After he dug the pit he said sarcastically, or maybe not, the pit should instead be for his grave rather than his latrine.

The old man with proudly standing in front of his completed household latrine.

The old man proudly standing in front of his completed household latrine.

Eventually we finished constructing his latrine and now he and his family have a place to relieve themselves. Through this experience I learned how people are truly suffering because of their poverty. Through the Ghana WASH project we’ve build a number of latrines for people who don’t really need them, such as Government officials, village chiefs, and people who already have WCs in their houses. However, the old man is someone who desperately needed a latrine and I’m happy we had the opportunity to provide him one.


About Ryan

I'm serving in Ghana as a Peace Corps volunteer for 27 months. View all posts by Ryan

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