Sanitation Ministry launches M-CODe to fight open defecation

By Lydia
Kukua Asamoah/Eunice Hilda Ampomah, GNA

Accra, Sept 19, GNA – The Media Coalition
Against Open Defecation (M-CODe) has been launched in Accra to help government
in the fight against open defecation, which is giving the country a bad name
internationally.

Available statistics indicates that about one
out of five Ghanaians defecate in the open, translating into an estimated 5.7
million Ghanaians engaging in open defecation.

A UNIICEF study has also revealed that, one
gram of human faeces may contain 10 million viruses, one million bacteria,
1,000 parasite cysts and 100 parasite eggs, all these having a negative
consequences for health, productivity and socio-economic development.

M-Code, which is made up of media houses
including the Ghana News Agency, Ghanaian Times, Ghana Broadcasting
Corporation, Multimedia Group, Daily Graphic, CitiFm, among others, was
therefore launched to help inform and educate the people to engender the needed
behaviour change.

In a speech read on behalf of Mrs Cecelia
Abena Dapaah, Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources by her Deputy Minister
Patrick Boamah, said it was highly unacceptable that people still defecate
openly and therefore, there was the need to take an urgent and decisive action
to reverse the trend.

She said the government had rolled out various
measures to improve sanitation situation in the country and that the
government’s agenda of ensuring that every household had improved toilet was on
course.

She revealed that the Ministry through the
Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) Sanitation and Water Project had
constructed about 11,000 household toilets, serving about 88,000 people within
the Region.

A total of 406 school toilet facilities were
also being provided for 165,000 pupils under the GAMA project. 

Mrs Dapaah said as a measure to centrally
connect households in densely populated and low income urban communities such
as Bankuman in Tema, Lakpana in La and Ashaiman, the GAMA project was also
developing decentralised sewerage systems that would benefit over 15,000
individuals.

She announced that the Ministry had also
directed all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives whose
mandate it was to clean the cities, towns and villages “to step up their game
in providing sanitation services”.

Turning her attention to the media, the
Minister indicated that the goal of making household toilets a social norm in
all communities, would be eluded without the support of the media, saying, “the
mass media fully clutching an issue like open defecation head on will result in
an unimaginable impact”.

She therefore, gave the Ministry’s assurance
to work with the Ghana Journalists Association under the GAMA project, to
include a special recognition in this year’s GJA awards for media house that
will distinguish itself in the M-CODe agenda against open defecation.  

Mr Yaw Attah Arhin, Water, Sanitation and
Hygiene Technical Coordinator with World Vision International, who spoke on
behalf of NGO partners made up of the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation
(CONIWAS), said it was such a worry that close to 20 percent of the Ghanaian
population engage in open defecation, which was probably one of the greatest
threats to life and child wellbeing in the 21 century Ghana and Africa.

“It is sad to observe that children were dying
every day from diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid fever, when
these were easily preventable with affordable and proven interventions such as
the use of improved latrines and hand-washing with soap”, he said.

Mr Arhin expressed the regret that despite
increasing political and public interest and greater attention in recent times,
progress on ending open defecation had been painfully slow.

He therefore, encouraged the government and
the Ministry of Sanitation to intensify its provision of leadership and
strategic direction with clear and achievable road map towards ending open
defecation.

 He also
urged the government and its stakeholders to pay attention to the WASH
situation in schools and health facilities to help create a conducive
environment for quality education and healthcare.

Mrs Linda Asante Agyei, Vice President of the
GJA, on behalf of the Association declared support for zero tolerance for open
defecation.

She urged the media houses to lend their
fullest support by way of providing free airtime and newspaper space for
jingles, articles and sensitisation programmes.

GNA  

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