Volta Region sets March 2014 to eliminate open defecation

Open defecationVolta Region has set March 2014 as deadline to eliminate open defecation in the region.

Mr Francis Ganyaglo, Deputy Volta Regional Minister, set the target when he addressed the closing session of a training workshop on Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) involving over 100 participants comprising environmental health staff, non-governmental organisations, the media and some state institutions.

The workshop was organized by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) with CLTS Foundation Global, Kolkata, India providing technical assistance.

CLTS is part of a joint Ghana Government and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme, which sets out to eliminate Open Defecation (OD) in some selected districts in the Volta, Upper East, Upper West, Northern and Central regions noted for the practice.

To achieve the March 2014 target, therefore, the Volta Region had expanded the coverage of the CLTS to the remaining 20 Municipal areas and districts.

The participants also drew and discussed their CLTS action plans at the workshop.

“We can achieve this. We want healthy communities and people,” Mr Ganyoglo said.

He, therefore, directed Municipal and District Chief Executives and Municipal and District Coordinating Directors to take personal charge of the implementation of the programme.

Mr Ganyaglo also appealed to chiefs and stakeholders in communities to support the drive to eliminate “free range” in order to curtail diseases of public health in the Region.

He urged them to exert their authority in sanctioning young men who make it their habit to defecate openly in their communities.

A total of 174 out of 200 OD communities had so far attained OD Free status in the region since the programme begun in 2012, Mr Francis Abotsi, Volta Regional Director of the Environmental Health Department said.

Dr Kamal Kar Director of CLTS Foundation Global and lead facilitator of the workshop, said women ought to take keener interest in eliminating OD because they and their little children suffered most from the practice.

He said OD was a harbinger of diarrhoea and cholera, which killed many more people, especially children below five years worldwide than does Human Immune Virus (HIV).

Dr Kar said OD undermined the dignity of women and predisposed them to sexual molestation such as rape.

He said OD was a problem of bad habit rather than lack of toilets because the practice persisted despite the provision of many donor and state sponsored and subsidized toilets.

“People are paid to shit, when the subsidy stops they stop using those toilets,” he said.

He said many of such toilets had therefore become relics for lack of maintenance, care and use.

Dr Kar said for OD to stop, officials and donors must learn from the people, who had the solutions to the problem, instead of teaching them what they should do.

“Learn from the people because they are experts at solving their own problems,” he said.

A handbook on CLTS defined the strategy as “an integrated approach to achieving and sustaining open defecation free status. It entails the facilitation of the community analysis of their sanitation profile, their practices of defecation and consequences leading to collective action to become Open Defecation Free.”

The CLTS strategy uses a set of tools of community self- assessment, verification and examination to trigger community action to eliminate the practice.

The tools include community mapping, shit mapping, walk of shame to verify and provide evidence of open defecation, shit calculation and calculation of hospital bills arising from OD related diseases.

In their evaluation of the workshop, participants said the CLTS provided a more practical and result oriented approach to dealing with OD in the region.

They, however, said its success would depend on the ability and willingness of the Municipal and District Assemblies to provide the logistics and other forms of support to achieve its objective.

Source: GNA

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