Our institutions and open defecation

BY: Doreen Hammond
Doreen Hammond
Doreen Hammond

After one of the not too exciting AFCON matches which has become common with the tournament, I chanced upon a new Black Stars song.

Like most of such songs I have heard before, it was a mouthful and drab, yet this one was unique in a certain way.

After the initial pictures of the Black Stars in a celebratory mood, there were images of some Ghanaians “ doing their own thing “ at the beaches and other open places.

As soon as I set eyes on the images, I could not help but cringe as I kept wondering what others might think about us globally.

A country where people defecate on the beaches and other open places can surely not be a good choice for any investor.

We have proudly added the phrase “open defecation” to our national vocabulary.

For the composer, I guess he cannot be faulted for bringing to the limelight, a national cancer that needs to be cured.

The medium used and the timing are worrisome.

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In any case, such public education methods have been part of us for a long time.

Perhaps, it is about time we delved into how effective they have been to inform future methodologies to address such social and health issues.

Perhaps, we must begin to look at the root causes rather than scratching the surface of the problem as we are fond of doing with most of our problems.

First, how many people in their right senses, will ignore a toilet facility at home to undertake a business, which we have termed private, in a public place?

The reality is that, majority of homes lack this basic facility even as I write.

It is indeed, mind boggling that sane people will pay rent advance to a landlord who refuses to show them the most basic of respect by providing them with a toilet which is a basic need.

The usual excuse is that such houses come cheaper but then is it not a truism of life that cheap things end up being more expensive? Where is the dignity of open defecators?

Then comes the critical issue of the role of state institutions mandated to ensure that the right things are done.

They have been at it for as long as I can remember but if some old buildings had no toilets, which situation has led us to this state of affairs, why are they looking on for new ones to be constructed without same?

The building code still stipulates that all residential buildings must have toilet facilities, so how come this requirement is being flouted with impunity and the responsible state institutions seem to be in a deep slumber?

The call for state institutions to be up and doing has been going on for a long time but without much positive results.

Head of institutions continue to enjoy the pecks of their offices and sometimes even more while the institutions fail to fulfil their mandate.

Often times, the lack of logistics, funding and personnel are cited as the reasons for this state of affairs.

So why do we take up such appointments knowing very well that we will not be resourced to deliver?

Or is it because whether we deliver or not does not really bother the appointing authority?

What is the use of the assemblies if their building inspection sections cannot ensure that buildings conform to specifications?

That is what all progressive societies do and we cannot afford to do otherwise and yet demand that we be counted among progressive comity of nations.

I still come across numerous vehicles which are not road worthy plying our roads yet that is somebody’s job.

I have seen potholes on major roads that are over 10 years old and still counting; where is the responsible agency?

I have come across burst pipe lines gush out thousands of litres of treated water with the responsible agency looking on.

The list goes on and on and the loser is mother Ghana and her citizens.

To all open defecators, please don’t let your actions be the cause of such videos shown on national television.

And to state institutions, your inactions invariably affect all of us , wake up from your slumber.

Open defecation is not only swelling our health bills but it is so indecent.

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