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Published on: 11/05/2020

Sanitation Challenge for Ghana

In order to put sanitation on the agenda in Ghana and encourage local politicians to prioritise and invest in sanitation, the Sanitation Challenge for Ghana (SC4G) was launched in 2015 and ended in July 2019 with nine winners rewarded. It was an innovation programme motivating Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to team up with their citizens, innovators and solvers to design and then implement their own liquid waste management strategies.

Using an inducement prize mechanism the SC4G focused on bringing transformational change in sanitation service delivery to poor households in urban centres.

This short animation explains the SC4G and its outcomes:

Who is behind this concept?

The SC4G was set up under the UK Aid-funded Ideas to Impact programme. They design and run innovation prizes to incentivise contestants to find solutions to challenges faced by the poor in low-income countries. These include access to clean energy, water and sanitation, transport and climate change adaptation, in Africa and South Asia. The programme tests the value of prizes as a non-traditional mechanism to spur behaviour change and socioeconomic development.

The SC4G was delivered by IMC Worldwide with IRC Ghana as the local implementing agent and Maple Consult providing technical inputs. It was designed by Trémolet Consulting. The evaluation was conducted by Itad. The programme’s evaluators at Itad are supporting Ideas to Impact to understand if such prizes worked as intended, and when and where they could be useful as a funding mechanism for international development, compared to other forms of funding, such as grants.


Nine MMDAs won the competition based on independent verification of participants’ work and assessment by a panel of judges. Initiatives ranged from providing toilets in markets and schools to raising awareness of the importance of sanitation among communities. One of the winners rehabilitated a sewage treatment pond, used it to rear fish on a commercial scale and has been using this revenue to fund the facility’s maintenance.

Grand dignified city award
Kwahu East receiving the 2nd place award for in the District Assembly category of the Challenge - for their innovative commitment to the sanitation value chain and strong leadership commitment in the implementation of the liquid waste management strategy.

Four key lessons

The SC4G evaluation report explored what happened when Ideas to Impact tried using prizes in Ghana to improve sanitation to benefit especially the poor. Four key lessons emerged:

  1. Unlike grant-based programmes, prizes can spur solutions by many actors, with no upfront funding and minimal support. This can lead to increased value for money, ownership by participants and political engagement.
  2. As prizes can stimulate several projects that are run independently, their managers should monitor and understand the effects on people on the ground to act and avoid unintended consequences.
  3. Prize participants should be held accountable for the quality and development impact of their interventions. However, given the voluntary nature of participation, reporting requirements should be light and support might have to be provided.
  4. To ensure longer-term sustainability of results, prizes should be used alongside other funding mechanisms, so that post-award activities can take place to sustain and build on the prize results.

 Download the final evaluation report below.

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