Sampa is a rural regional market town in Ghana’s Bono region, which means that once a week, people from surrounding villages travel there to buy and sell whatever they need for the week. Ladies in brightly colored African garb spread cloths on the ground or on tables and heap the bounty from their farms into little neat piles for others to buy. Here, you can purchase all of the local foodstuffs including pungent dried fish, fresh tomatoes, ochre, onions, corn, beans, eggs, spices, and cassava root. There are stalls selling gorgeous bolts of vibrant fabric, shiny metal cookware, livestock, local medicines, farm tools, magical juju objects, jewelry, soccer balls, and clothes – many of which are used, purchased at low cost in bundles from other countries.
Here you can find machete-sharpening stations, hot food stalls, and people walking around with metal bowls on their heads selling snacks such as fresh hibiscus juice tied up in plastic bags and fried fish heads. People convene here to meet up with friends, conduct business, and do their shopping. It’s a bustling, lively place covered in red clay dust during the dry season and inescapable sucking mud during the rainy season. The market is alive with children frolicking, customers and vendors bartering, and goats bleating, as if you’re on the pulse of life at its purest.
What isn’t here though, is a safe, sanitary, secure bathroom. When our founder, Jasmine Keefe, lived in a neighboring village and travelled to Sampa every week on market day, she taught herself to drink only enough so that she wouldn’t be dehydrated, but also so that she wouldn’t have to visit a bathroom for the entire day. There is a public latrine in the market, but it is very old, decrepit, and can be smelled from far away, even over the odor of all the fermenting fish. Despite the massive number of people who pass through this market every week, they generally only use it if it is a dire emergency. People often urinate or even defecate out in the open public space because the alternative is so undesirable. This leads to the dangerous spreading of waterborne illnesses.
The state of the Sampa Market Public Latrine as it stands today:
Our Ghana Country Director, Mr. Ofori Aaron Atta, is meeting with Sampa’s District Chief Executive this week to finalize the budget for this project.