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Upper East, West declare open defecation free by 2014

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Open defecationDistrict Assemblies in the Upper East and the Upper West Regions have pledged to work assiduously to declare their Districts Open Defecation Free (ODF) by the close of 2014.

Stakeholders including some political heads such as Municipal and District Chief Executives, technocrats from Municipal and District Assemblies as well as staff from the Ghana Education Service,  Ghana Health Service, Community Development Workers, Environmental and Sanitation workers among others drawn from the two regions made the pledge at the end of a five-day Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) workshop.

About 90 and 75 per cent of communities in the Upper East Region and Upper West Region practice open defecation.

The five-day training programme which was on the theme: “Scaling up CLTS; Making Upper East and West Regions Open Defecation Free (ODF), was organised by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and sponsored by UNICEF, with technical assistance from CLTS Foundation Global of India.

Ms Gloria Nyam Gyang, a Specialist in charge of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) at the UNICEF office in Ghana, commended the stakeholders for taking the bold initiative to pursue the programme.

She said UNICEF would continue to provide support to tackle the problem and impressed upon the Municipal and District Assemblies to also contribute significantly to address the issue to enable Ghana attain the Millennium Development Goals on sanitation.

The Bolgatanga Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Edward Ayagle who read a speech for the Upper East Regional Minister, Alhaji Limuna Mohammed-Muniru, commended UNICEF for the support and impressed upon the beneficiaries of the programme to implement the CLTS at their communities.

He said it was just impossible for any organization to construct toilets for all the people in the community and that government in the past made an attempt at improving sanitation coverage with subsidy but it failed because of the little involvements of the communities.

He told the MDAs that one of their core mandates was sanitation and stressed the need for them to take the issues of sanitation seriously by committing adequate resources to CLTS activities at their various districts.

The Deputy Environmental Health Officer for the Upper East Region, Mr Cletus Asamani, told the GNA that building of community toilets solely by government or through government support was no longer working hence the introduction of the CLTS.

He said that the programme was piloted in the Bongo, Bawku, Garu, Kassena-Nankana West and Builsa districts in 2010 with support from UNICEF.

Mr Asamani said out of the 333 communities selected from the five districts for piloting, 212 had stopped open defecation and had constructed their own toilets using local materials, thereby reducing diseases such as typhoid, diarrhea and malaria among others.

UNICEF and the MLGRD, he noted, were motivated by the successes chalked out by the project.

Mr Asamani said this led to the invitation of the originator of the concept, Dr Kamal Kar from India, to facilitate the workshop and to equip the participants with knowledge, skills and techniques to help confront sanitation problems in the country.

He said the participants were expected to form District Integrated Agency Coordinating Committees on Sanitation to address sanitation issues using CLTS at the community level after the training programme.

Source: GNA

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