Questions we get asked the most often. Is your question and answer not here, get in touch with us by using the contact form on this page.

What is the Sanitation Challenge for Ghana?

A competition running from November 2015 to December 2018 designed to incentivise Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies in Ghana to team up with their citizens, innovators and solvers to design and implement liquid waste management strategies to transform the livelihoods of Ghana’s urban centres. The competition is including a series of monetary prizes and honorary awards.

Why launch a Sanitation Challenge for Ghana?

Ghana is one of the worst performing countries in sub-Saharan Africa on the sanitation front, affecting people living in low-income urban areas. It is estimated that only 20 % of Ghana's urban population has access to safe and adequate sanitation.

The Government of Ghana has made great strides to improve the institutional and policy framework for sanitation services. Urban sanitation services have been decentralised to the 216 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), which fall under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD). Development partners are also increasing their funding and technical assistance to support the government and decentralised municipalities in improving sanitation services. These efforts have not yet translated into effective and at scale provision of sanitation services.  

The rationale for the Sanitation Challenge for Ghana is that a prize can stimulate the interest of both MMDAs and their citizens to work jointly to improve sanitation conditions at city level. Achieving progress in urban sanitation and hygiene delivery is highly dependent on the capacity and willingness of the MMDAs to lead, plan, and drive the sanitation agenda.

What will the Sanitation Challenge for Ghana help achieve?

The Sanitation Challenge for Ghana will help Ghana achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by incentivising qualifying Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to work in the following areas:

  • eliminate open defecation
  • increase access to basic and hygienic sanitation for all at home, in public buildings (school, health centres, markets) and work;
  • improve excreta and faecal sludge management (containment –treatment and safe reuse; onsite collection-treatment and reuse; pit emptying, transport, safe disposal, treatment and safe reuse); and
  • progressive reduction of the sanitation services gap between the rich and poor
What are the different stages of the Challenge?

The Sanitation Challenge for Ghana consists of a series of prizes over a 3-year period. The prizes will be awarded in multiple stages to stimulate

  1. the development of liquid waste management strategies, and
  2. implementation of these strategies using innovative and inclusive approaches deliver tangible and urban wide improvements.

Stage 1 of the Challenge, the Duapa award, was launched on 19 November 2015. During this stage, MMDAs compete for preparing the best liquid waste management strategies. MMDAs had until April 2016 to submit their strategies. A panel of judges assessed submission based on a set of criteria and awards were handed out end of June 2016.

Stage 2 of the Challenge is a competition over the successful implementation of the liquid waste management strategies. Prizes will be awarded to MMDAs for having made the best efforts and achieved best results in terms of implementing their liquid waste management strategies.

To sustain interest and excitement in the competition during the implementation stage, prizes for making progress in creating an enabling environment for sanitation will be awarded during Stage 2. These awards will be made to showcase and reward innovative and best practices to improve city-wide sanitation at scale. All MMDAs with an urban centre of more than 15,000 people will be eligible to take part, even if they are not amongst the 15 MMDAs selected to compete for the grand prize award.

Who can apply to the Sanitation Challenge for Ghana?

At the launch in 2015 all MMDAs in Ghana with a population of 15,000 and over (according to the 2010 Census) were invited to take part to the Challenge. Application is now closed.

How to apply for the Sanitation Challenge for Ghana?

The application for the second stage of the Sanitation Challenge for Ghana has closed.

What awards will be made?

The total prize purse for the prize is GBP 1.426 million, which includes both the monetary awards and the monetary value of the honorary awards.

Cash-based monetary and non-monetary awards will be awarded at regular intervals throughout the period of the challenge. Non-monetary awards will include trophies, certificates or rewards in the form of travel to international conferences and other learning events. Awards will be given at highly visible events, in the presence of politicians, the media and popular public personalities.

How are the liquid waste management strategies going to be judged?

The judging process includes two stages: online judging and face to face judging. All the liquid waste management strategies that the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies submit will undergo a first screening in order to verify whether they meet the eligibility criteria. This is followed by an online judging process, which will be completely anonymous. The MMDAs that have successfully passed the online judging round will be invited to Accra for the second phase of judging based on a face to face interview with a panel of  excellent international and local judges.

Who is sponsoring the prize?

This prize is being developed as part of a broader programme, referred to as the Ideas to Impact programme (, which was launched by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in April 2014 to stimulate innovative solutions for challenges in water and sanitation, climate change adaptation and energy access for the world's poorest people or low-income households.

Who supports and implements the Sanitation Challenge for Ghana?

The Government of Ghana represented by its Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) and its Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD) are leading the Sanitation Challenge for Ghana. IMC Worldwide, an international development consultancy based in London, is acting as agent from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and is managing the prize implementation. IRC Ghana and WASHeatlh Solutions are providing support to implementation in Ghana.

How is "innovation" understood in this Challenge?

Innovation here is broadly conceived: it includes the development and use of improved or new products and associated business and financing models, processes, technologies or services that are either new to the world, new to Ghana or to the sanitation sector (i.e. they could be adapted from other countries or sectors).

What is the difference between the Sanitation Challenge for Ghana and a traditional grant?

The Sanitation Challenge for Ghana is a series of innovation prizes for urban sanitation. Innovation prizes are "innovation inducement prizes", i.e. prizes that induce change through competition and that reward good performance ex-post. In addition, there is a limited number of prize winners (in most prizes, "the winner takes all" but there can also be several winners in different categories) but there will be considerable publicity at the stage the awards are being made.

Why is the Sanitation Challenge only set up in Ghana?

Other countries have showed considerable interest in launching similar Sanitation Challenges, including India, Uganda, Kenya or Tanzania. The feasibility of rolling out this mechanism to other countries will be explored once initial results from running the prize in Ghana are collected.

How can small MMDAs compete against larger ones?

To create a level playing field and limit the risk of unfair competition among cities of different size with different levels of access to resources, cities are competing in two different categories.

Are you on social media?

Yes, you can follow and support the Sanitation Challenge for Ghana by liking us on Facebook and using our Twitter handle @SaniChallengeGh or the hashtag #SanitationChallenge