Selection and use determinants of shared toilet facilities in Ashaiman, Ghana

In low income urban areas where a majority of houses do not have toilets, shared toilets are often seen as the last alternative to open defecation or flying toilets; and today, more than half of the urban Ghanaians rely on them. Several book chapters and papers examine the characteristics of the shared toilets from their political management to their technical design, but very little is said about how urban Ghanaians are selecting and using the few public or private shared toilets available in their neighbourhood. This paper analyses what determines the appropriate toilet for different categories of population in the large town of Ashaiman. It concludes that those determinants and the uses of toilets vary from one neighbourhood to another, from one family to another and may vary at individual level from day to day. Those variations answer with pragmatism the dilemma "price" or "cleanliness" that urban dwellers face when looking daily for a toilet.