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Ghanaian University Uses Eco-Friendly Methods for Improving Campus Sanitation

A private university in Accra, Ghana, is incorporating ecologically sound methods for providing sanitation and clean water on its campus. Valley View University is also recycling human waste and used water from dormitories as fertilizer for the school’s farm. Voice of America English to Africa Service reporter Joana Mantey, in Accra, says the campus covers 120 hectares and expects to have 5,000 students by 2010. A network of partners, including the University of Augsburg, Germany, is supporting the effort.

University spokesman Gunther Geller said when the project started five years ago, water for the campus buildings was brought in by truck, “There was no water for flushing toilets. It was really difficult.” Also, domestic refuse was buried on site.

Today, about 13 cubic meters of tap water a day is provided by a water treatment plant near Oyibi village and by rainwater that’s collected, purified and stored outside university buildings.

Geller said the university’s program for recycling waste and providing clean water is a long-term commitment:

“What we want to do from the start was not only water saving toilets but to close the cycle in the development of the university. It is a holistic development [involving the training of staff and students, information dissemination, organization and management.] We want to implement [an] ecological approach for all students as part of their study. The students are now participating. For example, German students come to Valley View to do [study the system for] their Master’s thesis.”

The project has brought other changes to the university campus, including waste separation and recycling. “Now we have dry toilets so even if there is no water…we have rain water, which is a big improvement from former times. We have ecological buildings that need [few fans or air conditioning]. We now collect plastic bags and bottles that we market to a factory in Accra for recycling. Valley View [earns] some money for that.”

The ecological project also has an agricultural component. Human waste is treated and used as fertilizer to grow pawpaws, avocados, mangos and vegetables “which [go] back to the cafeteria for the nutrition of students.” Geller said.

People in surrounding villages also benefit from the project. They use bio-waste and leftovers from the kitchen as animal feed and urine as fertilizer for agricultural production.

Geller said the project “has not been replicated, but there are universities in Kenya and Nigeria which are very interested in copying the ideas of Valley View.”