Open Defecation, our collective responsibility

Category: Feature Articles 118

The record was forthright as it placed Ghana in the second position in Africa in Open Defecation (OD) with only 19 per cent of its total population resorting to good health and sanitation practices.

Northern Region was also ranked second in the practice of OD in Ghana.

This has triggered many attempts by writers and investigators to bring to bear the reasons behind this canker and a whole lot of reasons have been unearthed.

A survey conducted by GNA recently indicated that, about 80 per cent of houses in Tamale Metropolis have no places of convenience.

It is an obvious fact that no one will like to leave his or her room to go to toilet in the bush right in the middle of the night, but circumstances have made it possible for people to take such risks.

Even though a number of politicians and about 30 NGOs in the Region are contributing massively toward sanitation and healthy life styles by building public toilets, the efforts are not enough to eradicate the delinquent behaviour.

The cost of patronising public toilets according to clients is so high that some of them are forced to engage in OD.
The survey revealed that the availability of open spaces, the forests and other vegetation cover makes the practice of OD to thrive.

Lack of awareness and poor attitudinal changes are also seen as the causes of the plague.

There was announcement of the position of the Region on the National Open Defecation Calendar in Tamale by Issahaku Alhassan, the Chief Director of the Regional Coordinating Council.

The survey indicated that seven out of 10 people questioned had no knowledge about the issues involved and the position of the Region on the calendar.

Problems of open defecation

Most of the people who are engaged in OD are not aware of the dangers involved in their action.

According to the The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), one gram of faeces contains 10,000,000 viruses 1,000,000 bacteria and 1,000 parasite cysts.

It said faeces of children contain even more germs than adults.

In 2013 more than 340,000 children under five died from diarrhoea related diseases due to a lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene – an average of almost 1,000 deaths per day.

In a media report the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Mrs Catherine Afeku indicated that the practice of easing oneself in the open especially along the country’s beaches had contributed to the low patronage of tourism in the country.

“You cannot aggressively bring people for tourism when you have open defecation at the beaches,” she said. 
If Ghanaians do not know about the kind of embarrassment their actions are bringing to Ghana internally and the dangers it imposes on their lives, how then, can they cooperate with the authorities to bring an end to the devastating social canker?

Way forward

Both educative measures and corporal punishments are necessary to help curb the situation.

The people must be constantly educated through music, giant billboards and other innovative means about the dangers of their actions.

Stringent measures should also be taken to prevent people from using forests and the open spaces as toilets.

To do this, individual and corporate organisation that own plots of lands in the towns should be made to fence them to prevent OD and until the authorities begin to take the bull by the horn, OD will continue to thrive with impunity.

Source: GNA

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