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Thank you very much. Because of you new books collected

Because of the generosity of regular donors, and donations to our latest appeal, we have been able to release the latest donation of books, from Book Aid International, from Ghana’s customs. The funds raised also allowed us to transport them to Alavanyo.

Clemence, our project manager in Alavanyo, made all the arrangements for the books to be collected from Accra and transported to Alavanyo. They are pictured below; unpacked, sorted and stamped . All books are stamped with the Book Aid International stamp.

This could not have happened without your financial help. So a huge thank you.

In Dorfor Adidome we are going to refurbish a room in the primary school, that they have set aside as a community library.

We were recently complimented by an eminent public health professional, Professor Sir Muir Gray (Director of The Optimal Aging Program Oxford University), for our work in providing toilets and libraries. In his opinion the the two most important strategies for improving public health are clean water and education – and toilets are vital in keeping water courses clean. We are honoured and humbled by his appreciation of what we are doing.

The work goes on.


Fantastic visit to projects and identifying new ones

The trustees Adrian and Heather visited Ghana from 17th to 27th February to see how current projects were doing and to identify new projects. We set off From Heathrow with British Airways with 172 Kg of luggage! We go BA because its a non stop flight and as you can see, their luggage allowance is great. As we pay for our own flights it is the most cost effective and convienient way of travelling.

We were met at Kotoka International airport in Accra at 9pm by the third trustee Alyrene, who had travelled out a few days earlier, Clemence our project manager, and Christian a driver we had had before in his beautifully kept air conditioned minivan.

The next day we left for Alavanyo. We stopped for lunch at the Akosombo dam, where Heather and Adrian had set off on their adventure to Timbuctoo during the 1968 Easter holidays. They were teaching in Ghana having been recruited by VSO to work in schools in the Volta Region.

172Kg luggage ready to go.
Christian, Clemence & Heather with Volta river behind.

We spent the next six days based at Alavanyo Dzogbedze. We travelled by the less salubrious but very efficient Tuktuk driven by Amos.
First to Kpando to buy material from the market. We needed the material to give to various seamtresses to make bags to sell on Etsy, at craft fares, and for the fair trade shop in Hameln. This not only provides us with a source of income for our projects but gives work to the seamstresses and their apprentices.

Amos with his trusty Tuktuk
Comfort selling us wonderful cloth
Alyrene and Clemence buying more
Edna making bags at Lolobi
Edemironing the bags Charlotte has made
Evelyn making bags at Dzogbedze
Having a laugh about how many pieces we have bought
Apprentice seamstresses showing off their handywork.

To be continued…………………………………………………..


A new roof suddenly appears

The carpenters at Dorfor Adidome have been hard at work. We are always amazed at the speed a roof goes on. A combination of hard work and skill.

The next stage is fitting out the interior and plumbing everything in. Usually we build KVIP toilets with the communities we work with. However, the community of Dorfor Adidome requested a WC system, initially we had reservations, but the central positioning of the toilet block in the village and the desire of the community to have one has meant we agreed. Our strapline is “The communities’ priorities are our priorities” and this is what the community requested we help with.

We are putting in drainage channels for after the effluent has been through a septic tank and aim to plant fruit trees alongside the channels to make use of the nutrients coming from the septic tank.

As with all of our projects, we will monitor the results closely and evaluate this toilet system before we commit to any other water based systems.

We have been in discussions about compost toilets and will be visiting a project next month that is converting the KVIP system into a compost system.

We’ll keep you updated on the progress and the evaluation and thank you to our generous donors and to the hard work and commitment of the Dorfor Adidome community.


Amazing community work at Dorfor Adidome

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

Maya, Alyrene, Chief, Adrian
Meeting with Chief and elders

Wednesday 14th June Community collects equivalent of three lorry loads of sand and barrels of water

Some of the sand
Amazing strength and skill

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 .

Tipping the block from the mould
Rows and rows of blocks curing.

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.

Digging out the septic tank hole
1 meter down and starting to hit rock

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.

Brute mechanical force chewed through the rocks.
All sorted

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 .


Striving to ensure our toilets are sustainable

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).

Our KVIP toilet block in Alavanyo Dzogbedze

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.

Opening up the empty tank and sealing off the full tank
Will a simple spring sort out the flys?

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.

Cross section showing the ventilation and fly trapping design.

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.


A New Partnership: Community Toilets in Dorfor Adidome

We have set up a new partnership with the community of Dorfor Adidome to work together to build a community toilet block. 

Currently there are no toilets in the village, so they relive themselves in a pit which attracts flies and diseases. Records from the local health centre show that, on average, 40 children a year die of diarrhoea & fly born diseases here. That’s one in 30 families losing a child each year. 

As well as the much needed health benefits the toilets will also provide privacy & safety. We spoke to Mable and her daughter, Patricia. They don’t walk to the current toilet pit after dark for fear of  snakes & scorpions. With it getting dark at around 6pm that’s a long time to wait until the morning light so they are very much looking forward to the new addition to their community.


The streets are made from sand, gravel and shells as thousands of years ago this was the course of the Volta River. The river has changed course over the years but the muscles & clams remain for harvesting. 

Children playing amongst the shells

Due to the terrain and the location of the toilets, the community have requested a water closet system toilet. This entails drilling a borehole to produce enough water for the system.  As well as being used for the plumbing the borehole will also give supply of fresh water to the community. Currently they fetch water from the river which is now just over a kilometre away from the centre of the village.

We are delighted to be working with such a committed community. We visited them and agreed the partnership on Monday, by Tuesday they had a full work plan and by Tuesday they had worked together to gather enough sand to make blocks for the walls! We’ll keep you updated on the progress…

Collecting sand


Why does the toilet roof need replacing?

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.

Destroyed roof


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.

Good news

Removing the old roof

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.

New roof


Restocking Libraries

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!

Wegbe EP School Library

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.

Livingstone & Adrian
Alavanyo Senior High Technical School Library.

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.

Alavanyo Wudidi Community Library

Thank you so much to Book Aid International for enabling all these people to read for both pleasure and for studying.


Your wonderful contributions to world book day

Thank you.

Over the years we have been working in Ghana we have refurbished and with the help of friends and Book Aid International stocked five community libraries.

These libraries are extremly well used. Some from six in the morning till late at night.

All of this is through your contributions. So this is just a thank you very much for your donations and suport. Please enjoy the photos of the libraries being used.

If you can contribute to the next library we are refurbishing in the Lolobi Communities we would appreciate it but even more so the thousands of people there who would use it.


Inflation in Ghana Hits Horrific 54.1% as all Food Costs Surge

Food prices rose 59.7% and transport costs increased 71.4%

Sound file click to play

The cost of living crisis is affecting all of us, from weekly shops going up to turning the heating down. The situation in Ghana is extreme, it has one of the highest rates of inflation in the entire world. 

This was very apparent when visiting Hohoe at the weekend. The market is usually full of cheer & colour with dozens of stalls selling all your basic needs, and a few luxuries. But now it is quiet, many stalls are closed and the ones remaining are even more eager for business from the very few customers.

June 2019 Before inflation
January 2023. Where are all the people?

In the past six months fuel prices have risen 200% and a Gallon of oil which cost 1,400 cedi in June was 3,000 cedi at the weekend, and prices are rising every single day. 

The effect of these fuel increases was clearly visible at taxi rank in the centre of the town. Usually it’s a place full of noise, hustle & bustle with bus conductors shouting “cra, cra ,cra” to encourage people to board their bus to Accra. However, it is now eerily quiet. People can no longer afford to travel. 

Amos, who makes his living driving a tuk-tuk, describes the situation as, “very, very bad.” 

Amos in his tuk tuk
The tuk tuk his only source of income

Last year it would cost him 25 cedi to fill the tank of his small motor, now it’s up to 90 cedi. 

Based around 9km from the market town, Kpando, most of Amos’ custom was taking women to the market there. 

Due to the fuel increases he has had to put his prices up but people cannot afford it. 

Now most of the women walk the 18km round trip, carry heavy supplies on their heads all the way home in the heat. The journey on foot can take up to six hours. The time used to make this trek takes time away from working on their farms, where they grow food to feed their families. 

The exchange rate has also had a huge effect. It is now around 13 cedi to the US dollar, six months previously it was around 5 cedi. 

Ghana relies heavily on imported goods, especially in agriculture; chemicals for farming, fertiliser, etc. It is now 650 cedi for a 50kg bag of fertiliser, in June it was 100 cedi. 

Farmers, both commercial and subsistence, now can’t produce as much because of high cost of agriculture imports. 

The prices of everything have risen so much that many people in the villages we work in only have one meal a day. 

As a small charity working with these communities, we too are feeling the struggles. Most of our income comes in GB pounds (with some New Zealand dollars & Euros too – thank you to our donors around the world!) While the exchange rate might benefit spending pounds it doesn’t outweigh the huge increases on the cost of materials we use. 

We are currently working with the community in Lolobi to build a library and computer lab. The budget for this has risen by 100% since we first costed it, only a few months ago. And it is likely to keep increasing.

The need is greater yet the cost and ability to raise funds so much harder. Especially with everyone, even our donors, affected by the cost of living in their own countries. 

If you can, please help us do our part in making this situation just a little bit better. Donate today or if you too are struggling and can’t afford a donation we would love to support you in running a fundraising event, contact us for more information. Together we can make a difference. 

June 2019 Colourful Hustle and Bustle
January 2023 Almost empty streets