Nkonya, (V/R), March 30, GNA – Much effort, time and patience would be needed to move many households in Open Defecation endemic communities in the Biakoye district in the Volta region to construct domestic toilets.
That was the impression arising from a monitoring visit to those communities as part of the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) programme.
The CLTS is a flagship strategy under the UNICEF and the Ghana Government’s Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme to eradicate open defecation (OD) in some endemic districts in the Volta, Central, Northern, Upper-East and Upper-West regions of Ghana and promote hand-washing on visiting the toilet.
Under the CLTS programme, Environmental Health Officers were deployed to educate and ‘trigger’ OD communities to appreciate and draw their own conclusions that they were jeopardizing their health by practicing OD and for not washing their hands after visiting the toilet.
Having gained that realization, community members were encouraged and given technical advice to construct simple, well-kept household toilets and hand-washing devices using local materials; such as mud, thatch, bamboo, palm-fronds, wood and discarded household materials such as barrels and wood ash to keep away flies and foul odour from those toilets.
Communities attained Basic OD free status when they realized the harm in open defecation and have resolved to stop the practice.
When every household constructs and uses household toilets and hand-washing devices then they were upgraded from Basic OD to Open Defecation Free (ODF) status.
If they were able to maintain the ODF status for one year then they would be further upgraded and designated as Sanitized Communities and if they maintained this level for three years then they would have achieved Sustained Sanitized community status.
There is a reward for each of the levels of attainment.
All the communities visited in the District have confirmed that officers of the District Environmental Health Office have been visiting them regularly to offer advice, encouragement and monitor progress on the construction of the household toilets.
Except for a few households which have constructed and were using their toilets, many others have only dug the pits, while others were using their neighbours’ toilets.
Some opinion and natural leaders who were spearheading the initiative said the District Environmental Health office would have to consider taking those failing to construct the toilets to the sanitation court to get them to conform because they were just adamant.
Some of the reasons given by some household heads were that some aspiring assembly members had promised to provide communal toilets once they got elected.
Others also said constructing toilets close to them was unhygienic because of the stench and flies emanating from them explaining that that was the reason why from time immemorial toilets were constructed far away from the communities.
Others also said the rocky nature and high water tables were frustrating their efforts to complete the toilets, while other said they did not have the time and implements to dig the toilets.
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