World Toilet Day commemoration launched

BY: Edmund Smith-Asante
Open defecation

This year’s commemoration of World Toilet Day (WTD) on November 19, on the theme, “Access to Toilets: Health and Nutrition”, has been launched in Accra by the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Alhaji Collins Dauda.

Launching the national event, which will be held at the Bukom Square in Accra, the minister said the aim of this year’s commemoration was to reach out to low-income urban communities and mobilise support for the toilet campaign.

 

“We expect to reach about 1,000 people directly and more than five million indirectly through the media and publicity materials,” Alhaji Dauda said.

Highlights of the 2015 WTD include the launch of a National Sanitation Challenge Prize among metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) which will involve a cash reward for the assemblies with the best sanitation plans and a house-to-house awareness creation of the importance of household toilets.

There will also be a queue for toilet and a handwashing demonstration, a role play on stopping open defecation by pupils and commitment statements from national stakeholders, as well as partner organisations.

The WTD is a day set aside by the United Nations, since 2000, for countries to undertake various activities to remind their citizens of the need to use hygienic toilets at home.

Open defecation

Touching on open defecation, which he said more than five million Ghanaians practised every day, thereby making the MDG target on sanitation unachievable, Alhaji Dauda stressed that “it is for our own good to build, own and use improved toilet facilities at home in order to avoid open defecation, which endangers everybody’s life”.

He said the environmental sanitation challenges facing Ghana were fast becoming endemic, as many people had simply refused to perform their civic responsibilities and comply with basic environmental sanitation bye-laws that would ensure a healthy life for all.

He reminded all that in six weeks the world would move to a 15-year global development agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which seeks to achieve a 100 per cent target by 2030.

“If we are to realise our vision of health for all by 2025, then we must take urgent steps to improve upon environmental sanitation. It is in line with such efforts that the government made a “Sanitation and Water for All” commitment last year to eradicate open defecation by 2020,” he said.

Directive to MMDAs

While lauding the Volta, Upper West and Northern regions for declaring their intention to declare open defecation free (ODF) status by 2016 or 2017, Alhaji Dauda directed all MMDAs to submit to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development the road maps to enable them to firm up the plans.

“The provision of and over-reliance on communal and public toilets at the community level have been one of the biggest setbacks in our collective efforts at attaining ODF status and has in no small way contributed to the lack of household toilets in our towns and cities. The MMDAs are hereby directed to tackle this issue head on,” he stated.