First a new roof was needed to make it weather proof
Then the interior needed a lot of Tender Loving Care
And got it
The outside was rendered and painted
Not a bad year’s work
And finally the shelves were stacked full of Books
This has only been achievable with the donations from many people especially those who have set up regular standing orders, thank you. Thanks must also go to Book Aid International as what would a library be without books. Thank you all.
In 1967, Adrian, one of the trustees of Community Action Ghana, headed to Lolobi as a VSO volunteer. He was assigned to teach at St. Mary’s Junior Seminary. So, you can imagine our excitement when the Lolobi community asked for our help to renovate an old building. Their plan was to turn it into a Community hub, starting with a library and a computer suite. In June, Adrian, his daughter Alyrene (also a trustee of the charity), and his granddaughter Maya went to Lolobi to assist with the project.
The community has done an incredible job and made impressive progress on the project. This place will soon hold more than 4,000 books donated by Book Aid International and six laptops donated from Christian Aid.
While some high school graduates were busy organizing the books, they had a great idea. They asked if they could start a reading club for the young people in the community. We were thrilled by their initiative. Below is their letter to the village elders, formally requesting permission to do this. This experience will be a valuable addition to their resumes, especially since job opportunities for high school graduates, in Ghana are limited. It’s heart-warming to see people of all ages and skills getting involved in the community project.
Please take a look at their proposal below. But before you do, remember that we need your help to continue providing facilities like this library. Click the donate button before you leave the site to support our cause.
The carpenters built shelves, put up ceilings, and made tables. They painted the walls and shelves. The electricians installed lights and fans. The community organized the books given by Book Aid International, got some chairs, and prepared the old rooms for the first readers.
We want to thank everyone who helped make this project happen. Special thanks go to Clemence Kitsi and Kenneth Norviewu for their hard work in getting the community involved. We also want to thank Augustine Quarshie, our wonderful host, for his hospitality. The community members gave their time to work as laborers, carpenters, electricians, masons, painters, and cleaners.
Two of the most memorable quotes from people helping were:-
A carpenter recently retired from Accra. “I am so glad to help as I thought when I returned to my village I would not be able to access books. I can now. Thank you.”
A disabled member of the community on being found tasks the was able to do said “Disability is not inability.” A quote we shall treasure and remember.
We’d just like to show you how a brilliant community is helping themselves build a community toilet in their village with our assistance. We are providing the majority of materials. The community is providing some locally available materials such as sand and water and, most importantly, their labour and enthusiasm. They work on the toilets most Mondays and Tuesdays instead of tending to their farms. Almost all of the people are subsistence farmers so this is quite a sacrifice. The overall cost of the project is £23,393 with the locally available materials and labour costs provided by the community being £11,589 and Community Action Ghana’s input of £11,804. Almost a 50/50 split.
The illustrated timeline below shows exactly how we, at Community Action Ghana, work with communities to develop their infrastructure.
Monday 12th June Some of the trustees of Community Action Ghana of meet with chief and elders and agree to partner on the community toilet project.
Tuesday 13th June Chief and Elders meet with the village community who agree to do communal labour
Wednesday 14th June Community collects equivalent of three lorry loads of sand and barrels of water
Monday 19th June and Tuesday 20th June. The community made about 1,600 cement blocks for the walls of the holding tanks. To see how to make concrete blocks check out this video made by Ella when she was 9 .
3rd and 4th July. Clearing the site and starting to dig the holes for the septic tank and the soakaway. Made good progress but ran into rock about 3″ (1 meter) down. Despite digging manfully it was going to be a difficult task to get 8 meters deep.
7th July Get in the JCB digger and even that found it hard. But it made a good (if expensive) job of it and valuable rubble will be broken down to be used in the concrete foundations.
18th July to 30th July Starting to build the septic tank. Village masons and labourers worked extremely hard. The village doesn’t have a cement mixer so everything is done by hand. Now alreday for the next stage of casting the top of the tanks.
We are really in need of funds to finish this project so please dig deep or contact us on ways you could help. Do you know a group we could give a talk to. Do you want to run a marathon for us? A sponsored something? Please think about how you could help this community help themselves .
At Community Action Ghana we pride ourselves on working with communities to fulfil their needs, in the ways they want them – the communities’ priorities our priorities.
In 2019 we worked with the community of Alavanyo Dzogbedze to build a sustainable, community toilet. We are delighted to report that a recent survey found that 326 people are using the toilets.
At the communities’ request we worked together to build a Kumasi Ventilated Improved Pit (KVIP) toilet block. This is a well know toilet system in Ghana, developed locally at Kumasi Institute of Technology (now the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology).
The sustainability aspect of these toilets is what was so important to us all. To show this, we’ll explain a little bit about how they work. The most important part of these toilets is the pit or the holding tanks. All the toilet deposits go into these tanks. They are designed to be very well ventilated so no, or little, smell goes back up into the cubicles. Any flies that follow their noses onto the poo are cunningly trapped in the tank until they die. If the flies could escape, they would carry germs on their legs and bodies, leading to fly borne diseases. With the KVIP model they can’t escape so this stops them spreading diseases.
In each toilet cubicle there are two squatting plates, and two toilet seats in the accessible cubicles. However, only one is opened initially, the other is sealed shut with a strong layer of concrete. Each tank is designed to hold about ten years, worth of deposits. The theory is, in ten years’ time when it is full, the initial plate will be sealed and the second chipped open to start filling the neighbouring holding tank. After about 20 years the contents of the first tank will have thoroughly composted killing any pathogens. This holding tank is then emptied, and the process starts again.
This sounds like a wonderfully, sustainable build designed to last decades.
However, when checking the toilets in Alavanyo Dzogbedze this month, we found that after just four years the initial tanks on the female side were full. And there was a smell coming from the toilets, which understandably those living closest to them were disturbed by. There was also rather an abundance of flies coming out of the toilets.
What was the problem?
The female toilets are in such demand, and so well used, that instead of the ten years expected to fill them, they have been filled in just four years. We see this as a good thing, illustrating the huge different these toilets are making, especially for the female members of the community, who use them the most. We sealed the first full tank and opened up the second empty tank so the ladies will start using an empty tank.We will keep monitoring the usage and report back, when the second tanks are full – to see if the first tank has composted thoroughly enough to destroy the pathogens and reopen to continue the substantiality of the toilets.
What about the smell.
Sealing off the full holding tanks and opening the empty holding tanks should alleviate the smell problem as the smell was coming from the full tanks. We also went round the holding tanks and used mortar to seal any cracks and crevices that allowed smells to escape. After we had done this there was an immediate clearing of the air. We will continue to monitor the situation.
What about the flies?
The solution to this is simple, the toilets were designed so any flies that were attracted to the smell of the faeces would be trapped in the holding pits – unable to fly away to transmit diseases. However, even after educating the toilet users about the importance of closing the toilet doors to allow this process to take place, flies were still getting out – creating the possibility of disease. Our solution – attaching springs to the toilet doors to ensure they remain closed after use. Again, we will report back to check that this has continued to prevent fly borne diseases.
We are currently fundraising for another toilet block in Dorfor Adidome. Due to the terrain and location of the toilets they have requested a water based toilet system, so we will ensure these are as sustainable as possible and continue to learn and adjust when needed. The water tank system is more expensive than the KVIP’s and inflation in Ghana is dramatically affecting our budgets, so if you are able, we would really appreciate your support to ensure we can help another community live with toilets and combat disease.
We built the toilets with the Alavanyo Dzogbedze community in 2019. They are well used – with people coming & going throughout the day. A recent survey found that at least 326 people and children are using the toilets, preventing diseases and providing dignity. But, unfortunately, the roofing on the female side has pretty much disintegrated.
We used aluminium sheeting for the roof to keep the cubicles cooler, the shiny aluminium reflects the sunlight. It should have been strong, rust free and lasted for years, in all weathers. But we didn’t consider the chemical reaction of the gasses in urine.
When urine decomposes it produces ammonia gas. At night, there is condensation on the underside of the roofing sheets which dissolves the ammonia, creating ammonium hydroxide. This ammonium hydroxide reacts with the aluminium to produce aluminium hydroxide, which is soluble. When the aluminium sheet on the roof turns into aluminium hydroxide it dissolves the roofing sheet and is washed away by the rain. In short: the urine dissolves the aluminium sheets.
The men’s side of the toilet block was not corroded at all. As we know, is far easier for men to wee, discretely in public, so they tend to only use the toilets for defecting. Whereas women need the privacy provided by toilets every time they need to go.
The good news is, now we have identified this, we have replaced the roofing. This time with galvanised iron sheeting which should last for many years. We will, of course, keep checking if our hypothesis is correct.
Over the past few years we have refurbished and stocked libraries in the Volta Region of Ghana with huge support from Book Aid International and our donors.
Today, we revisited the libraries and, again with donations from Book Aid, have replenished their stock of books.
Wegbe EP School Library
It was great to meet Cynthia again. She’s now 14 and still loves reading. Her favourite subjects are now English & Science. This morning she was reading The Great Blue Yonder by Alex Shearer, which is already her new favourite book!
Since we refurbished and stocked the library in 2021 it has been so well used that the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) have funded & set up computer lab with 20 computers so the students get to read books and learn how to use the computers and important technological skills.
Alavanyo Senior High Technical School Library
The students are on leave here so Livingstone, the Librarian & Biology Teacher greeted us. He was very grateful for the extra boxes of books we delivered.
As we looked through the well-thumbed books we noticed that some of them we on the wrong shelves. Livingstone explained, with a smile, that, the students hide their favourite books on the wrong shelves so they can get back to it when they return!
Pearl, the Library Prefect from last year, has graduated (and did very well in her exams) handed over the Prefect mantel to Peace, who is apparently as enthusiastic and dedicated to the library as Pearl was.
Alavanyo Wudidi Community Library
Rita Kpemasor the Librarian, at the Wudidi Community Library is always very busy. As well as supporting the students to find the right books for their studies she lends books to the rest of the community.
Even though the library is built in the school grounds the whole community has access, with many adults in the village delighted to be able to read for pleasure and learn from the books.
Thank you so much to Book Aid International for enabling all these people to read for both pleasure and for studying.
Retired, Semi retired, Fully employed? What are you going to do with your Saturday morning? Well two wonderful people Ann and Jim decided to some uncluttering. Then what? Put it all in the bin, have a trip to a recycling centre, put it in a skip? NO All these pre loved items that had been kept, just in case they were needed (which they weren’t), were cleaned up and taken along to the local ‘car boot’ sale.
The proceeds are going to help our projects in Djelukofi and Lolobi. They may turn into cement blocks to build a communal toilet or a wall in a library. Or to become shelves to display the books in the library. Or desks for the students at the Lolobi community (and there over 4000 of them) to work at in the library or computer room. Or lights so the students can study at night. (In the tropics its dark by 6.00 pm)
Isn’t that a brilliant way to declutter and help others less fortunate.
A huge thank you to Jim and Ann and everyone who turned up and bought the items.
If you would like to raise funds for us please contact us for some hints and tips.
A very brief analysis of the needs assessments completed by a sample of the Lolobi Ashambi and Lolobi Kumasi communities.
This is the brief Analysis
From an evaluation of a sample of needs assessment forms all households are strongly in favour of a community library and learning hub in Lolobi. From the analysis it will be used by all age groups from learners to professionals, upskilling and rewarding for leisure and for the elderly. Parents are particularly looking forward to it being somewhere where the young will gather rather than “loitering around and involving themselves in unhealthy activities” Comments were made about the fact it will be a place where children and young adults can work and study in a quiet place. All respondents were willing to volunteer their time and skills from labouring, carpentry, electrical work to helping run the library and a number expressed the desire that it should be completed as soon as possible. Most of the written comments were about how the community library would help the children progress their education and one comment expressed the need for books for the elderly who were educated, and in need of the stimulation that books can bring.
Here are a couple of copies of the forms and their authors
And you knew there was going to be a but. We need your donations to help make this a reality. Book Aid International has agreed to stock the library and another development charity has donated six fully refurbished laptops for the computer hub . Please dig deep so we can rebuild the walls, plumb in the toilets and get the books on the shelves and chairs and tables ready for everyone to appreciate all the facilities.