779 communities stop defecating in the open
Seven hundred and seventy-nine communities out of a total of 1,167 in the Upper West Region have, since 2011, been declared open defecation free (ODF).
This figure denotes that 67 per cent of communities in the region own and use household latrines with hand washing facilities, and also practice proper personal and environmental hygiene.
Although the Nandom District was declared ODF, with all of its 88 communities certified, the Wa West District has the highest number of ODF communities, with 160 of them, and followed closely by the Nadowli-Kaleo District with a total of 128 communities, whereas Wa East District has the least number with only 13 of its communities declared ODF.
The figures were contained in a presentation by the Regional Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for the Environmental Health and Sanitation Department, Mr Alhassan Inusah Agambire, which was shared with The Chronicle in Wa last Wednesday.
Mr Agambire explained that activities of the Environmental Health Officers were affected by the Coronavirus (CODVID-19) pandemic, as they had re-directed resources and attention to the fight against the menace, thereby limiting their efforts at eliminating open defecation in the region last year.
“In 2020, we were able to deliver forty-nine communities for verification and confirmation as ODF, as against 197 for 2019, mainly because we had to shift our focus to other environmental health activities to support the fight against the novel virus,” he explained.
He stated that the department had to liaise with other stakeholders in health, as well as non-governmental organisations in the water and sanitation hygiene sector, to provide hand washing facilities to critical areas, and to also monitor compliance with the safety protocols.
Touching on the figures, the Environmental Health Officers explained that some districts had undergone several interventions from various donors, such as the World Bank and the United Nations Emergency Fund, UNICEF, where their performance was still nothing to write home about.
Mr Agambire lamented that their greatest challenge was the urban areas, where constructing pit latrines was not feasible, yet landlords were also unwilling to construct modern toilet facilities, because they were not ready to embrace the cost factor involved.
“The Wa Municipality, for instance, has constantly recorded low performance in the ODF agenda, because landlords have refused to heed to our call on them to include household latrines in their buildings,” he said.
He stated that together with the Regional Inter-Coordinating Committee on Sanitation (RICCS), the region would fashion out workable solutions to deal with the urban centres in order to propel them for change.
Mr Agambire expressed that the ODF campaign would only be successful if the various municipal and districts assemblies within the region dedicated resources to tackling the menace within their respective jurisdictions, and called on them to support the fight with the needed resources.