ARB Apex Bank Partners with UNICEF to Improve Household Sanitation
ARB Apex Bank has partnered with the Environmental Sanitation and Health Directorate of the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources (MSWR), UNICEF and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, to launch an innovative and affordable loan scheme for people living in urban areas to build household toilets.
The new Sanitation Fund, which is being managed by the ARB Apex Bank was launched in Accra to address the challenges of basic sanitation in urban communities.
The Sanitation Fund is currently being rolled out in three major Assembly areas across Ghana: Ashaiman, Ho and Tamale Metropolitan Areas. Dagme and Manya Krobo Rural Banks were selected for the disbursement of funds in the Ashaiman Municipality; Avenor and Weto Rural Banks were selected from Ho Municipality, while Bonzali and Tizaa Rural Banks were selected from the Tamale Municipality.
UNICEF is also building the capacity of Rural Community Banks (RCB) and Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to ensure the smooth implementation of the Sanitation Fund.
Speaking at the launch in Accra, Kojo Mattah, Managing Director of the ARB Apex Bank noted that, "the ARB Apex Bank would like to confidently assure our partners that the funds will be strictly applied for the key purpose, that is the provision of loans to households and businesses for the construction of toilets and related sanitation facilities in the beneficiary communities. To ensure the sustainability of the Fund, the Efficiency Monitoring Unit (EMU) of the ARB Apex Bank has deployed a three-cycle value-for-money monitoring regime for the project."
He said he believed the ARB Apex Bank and the RCBs were selected as fund managers based on the special expertise and closeness of the RCBs to under-served segments of the society.
There are approximately four million households in Ghana who do not have a toilet for exclusive use by their families. While access to basic sanitation has increased from 21 per cent to 25 per cent in urban areas, statistics have proven that it is the poorest who are more likely to practice open defaecation.
The loans for household toilets, which are being offered with an operational fee of 12 per cent and with less demanding lending criteria than other loan products, has the potential to change the landscape of urban sanitation for thousands of families. The rate of 12 per cent is much more favourable in comparison to average bank loan fees which can range from between 26 to 40 per cent, and often require two salaried creditors as guarantors and other prohibitive selection criteria.
Such conditions make it restrictive and unobtainable for many sectors of society to build their own household toilets.
According to Cecilia Abena Dapaah, Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, "in our search for practical scalable solutions to our sanitation challenges, a revolving fund presents one of the best options, but without repayment of loans this potential immediately drops. We need those who access the loans to be responsible, but we also need to make sure our Assemblies are engaging with households to remind them of this responsibility and that participating banks are playing their part".
In his remarks, His Excellency Ron Strikker the Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana said, “access to finance is necessary in the sanitation sub sector, to give access to sanitation service delivery and stir up entrepreneurship in the sanitation business. It is the sustainable way of reaching our SDG 6 target”.
The UNICEF Representative in Ghana, Anne-Claire Dufay said, "UNICEF is committed to continue working with the Government of Ghana, Development Partners and other actors to make Ghana a much cleaner country, where families can enjoy a dignified life, where children can grow up in a safe and healthy environment, and where no one is left behind".
The Basic Sanitation Fund is the first phase of a multi-million Dollar fund, which upon successful completion of the pilot phase would lead to the release of the other components of the fund.