Skip to content


The sanitation challenge for Ghana: Making urban sanitation a political priority – Brief

The Sanitation Challenge for Ghana was a competition that ran in Ghana between 2015 and 2019 to encourage local governments – Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) – to make urban sanitation a priority.


Specifically, the Sanitation Challenge, which was run in partnership with the national government, spurred MMDAs to develop and implement innovative liquid waste management strategies in poor areas. Participating MMDAs had to provide improved urban sanitation services, taking an integrated approach that covered the entire sanitation value chain: capture, storage, transport, treatment and reuse.

Stage 1 of the prize, the Duapa Award, encouraged MMDAs to develop strategies for improving liquid waste management, while Stage 2, the Dignified City Award, required participants to implement these strategies. During Stage 2, a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded sister prize was run alongside the main prize to incentivise private sector and non-state actors to partner with the participating local authorities and support implementation of their liquid waste management strategies, by bringing innovation, expertise and investment.

Nine MMDAs won the competition based on independent verification of participants’ work and assessment by a panel of judges. Initiatives ranged from providing toilets in markets and schools to raising awareness of the importance of sanitation among communities. One of the winners rehabilitated a sewage treatment pond, used it to rear fish on a commercial scale and has been using this revenue to fund the facility’s maintenance.