Mole (S/R), Feb. 19, GNA – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called on political heads at the regional and local levels to commit to firm Open Defecation (OD) targets.

They are also to work with Assemblies through Assembly Members to mobilise the citizenry to take ownership of sanitation to achieve the targets.

Madam Margaret Gwada, Chief of UNICEF Field Office, Tamale, who made the call, expressed the need for Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to enact by-laws and sanctions to correct defaulting citizens.

She said this would help to achieve the President’s agenda of a “Clean Ghana,” “A Ghana without filth, a Ghana where children do not lose their lives to preventable diseases such as diarrhoea and polio”.

She was speaking at the Ministers’ Sanitation Summit held at Mole in the Savannah Region, which was a lesson-learning platform to deepen dialogue in the fight against OD as well as share experiences and ideas on dealing with the menace.

It was also to share and receive feedback from amongst the various regions and to come up with constructive ideas and suggestions on the way forward to improve on basic sanitation in the country.

It was organised by the Northern Regional Coordinating Council in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, and the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources together with its development partners including UNICEF and Canada.

It was attended by some Regional Ministers and Deputy Regional Ministers from five regions in the north, and the Central and Greater Accra Regions and officials from the Ministries of Sanitation and Water Resources, and Local Government and Rural Development, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives, Regional Community Development Officers, Regional Environmental Health Officers from those regions and development partners including UNICEF, Canada and the coalition of NGOs in water and sanitation.

According to the 2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), one out of five Ghanaians defecated in the open.

Data from the Environmental Health and Sanitation Unit indicates that Northern Region moved from five per cent Open Defecation Free (ODF) coverage in June, 2016 to about 58% in July, 2019.

Madam Gwada attributed the strides in the area of ODF to commitment of leadership to timely release of funds towards sanitation initiatives and behavioural change, hence, her call on the political heads to commit to firm ODF targets.

Mr Michael Gyato, Deputy Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources urged Assemblies to sensitise their people to pick plastic rubbers scattered in their surroundings to help improve sanitation practices in their communities.

Mr John Benam, Deputy Northern Regional Minister said the government had demonstrated commitment towards improving on basic sanitation in the country and called on development partners “To lean on that and work assiduously to achieve more ODF with resources within our reach.”

Mr Eric Chimsi, Development Officer, at Canada expressed the need to institute measures for the effective and sustainable supply of durable sanitation and hand hygiene solutions to accelerate progress towards country-wide ODF by the year 2030.

Mr Attah Arhin, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Technical Coordinator of World Vision Ghana called on development partners to renew their commitment to the WASH sector and the suggested to government to fully release budgetary allocations towards the sector to achieve set targets.

GNA (Ghana News Agency)
By Albert Futukpor, GNA
https://ghananewsagency.org