Mr. Attah Arhin, the WASH Technical Coordinator of the NGO, said a significant number of public schools in the country lacked toilets and that tackling open defecation at the school level would imbibe the spirit of proper sanitation in pupils.
“About 30 per cent of schools do not have toilet facilities, and we believe that when every school has a toilet, it would be a good start,” he told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) when he presented awards to two pupils of the Mawuli Basic School in Ho, who emerged winners of the maiden edition of the NGO’s Cartoon Campaign against Open Defecation.
Mr. Arhin said open defecation was a “major killer” in Ghana, adding that it was being practiced daily by about seven million citizens.
He also said the nation lost an estimated 3,600 children annually to diarrhoea, and that World Vision, through initiatives such as the cartoon campaigns, sought to involve children in the fight against open defecation.
“Children are very good change agents yet, they are being neglected and so we have decided to bring them together to support the campaign,” Mr Arhin said.
He shared that, the next round of the competition would feature larger prizes with a “rigorous” selection process, and entrants would be required to come out with a project, on ending open defecation.
Jessica Akwebea and Prosper Diapim, 12 and 10 year old pupils both from Mawuli Basic School were among 36 pupils across the country, awarded for participating in the competition.
Pupils were required to read and answer questions on comics centered on open defecation that was run for 12 weeks in the Junior Graphic newspaper.
The winners were awarded cash prizes, branded exercise books and stationery, as well as literature on sanitation, and were encouraged to take up the role of sanitation ambassadors.
“I wanted to know more about open defecation so that I could educate people on preventing it”, Prosper Diapim told the GNA. Jessica Akwebea on the other hand, said she was inspired by the need to help improve sanitation.
Mrs. Stella Kumedzro, Deputy Volta Regional Environmental Health Officer asked students and pupils to consider the pollution of the environment and its bearing on the health of the nation, and become active campaigners for proper sanitation.
Mr. John Fansey, Headmaster of the school said sanitation topped the school’s agenda, hence regular sensitisation of pupils on sanitation.
He however lamented that, the school’s 12-seater water closet toilet had broken down, and appealed for support to make it usable.