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28% of residents in the northern region lack toilet facilities


imageTwenty eight (28 %) of the population in the northern region have access to a toilet facility, with 72 percent still practising dehumanizing open defecation in 2012, a consultant with the Regional Environmental Health department  Kwasi Bonteng reveals.

Out of the 28 percent, 5 percent has access to quality water closets, while 23 percent use shared facilities, the health officer told a gathering of reporters in Tamale at a sensitization of media personnel on the need to fight open defecation in  the region.

The training workshop with the theme the “Menace of Open Defecation,’’ is aimed at training media persons on the issue of open defecation. The objective was to build the capacity of identified media persons in both the traditional media houses and community radio and equip them to focus on and report appropriately on relevant and related issues in their regions and districts.

The training was also meant to enable community radio stations, in particular, to create public awareness around issues of open defecation in their communities. The training focused on open defecation because it perpetuates the vicious cycle of disease and entrenched poverty

The practice, he said, remains one of the key challenges which also include crude dumping and general littering of the environment.

He listed some of the key challenges as the issue of partners not working in harmony, budgetary constraints, funding from government for software, low participation of the private sector, interference of tradition, political acquaintances leading to the low implementation of sanitation laws and the lack of adequate understanding of the concept of an open defecation-free environment.

The need for the media to engage on the issue is important, particularly with the global celebration of world Toilet Day on November 19, 2015. The day was instituted to popularize the issue of lack of access to basic household toilet facilities and to sensitize the masses on the dangers of open defecation to human health.

Currently, 1.1 billion people across the developing world including Ghana, practise open defecation because they do not have access to most basic sanitation facilities. Open defecation poses the greatest danger to human health and can have fatal consequences, particularly, for the most vulnerable, including young children.

The deaths are preventable through integrated water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions that separate human faeces from human contact. In Ghana, UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to implement an Open Defecation-free initiative called Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in the Central, Volta, and Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions as well as the Ashaiman District in the Greater Accra region.

These areas have been identified with a high incidence of open defecation. CLTS is an approach that focuses on a change from open defecation as a norm to the use of toilets as the new norm. It emphasizes behaviour change rather than the provision of latrines.

It frowns upon communal latrines as a solution. A facilitator, Madam Ama Kudom-Agyemang took participants through some guidelines on pitching and developing story ideas.

Open defecation is a key sanitation challenge affecting the country with 19 percent of Ghanaians resorting to the practice. Ghana has made little progress in managing the poor sanitation situation in the country.

A recent cholera outbreak which claimed over two hundred lives as well as the abysmal sanitation coverage of only 15 percent underscore the poor sanitation challenge in the country.

By;Lilian Walter/

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