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‘Engage Political Class On Open Defecation’

Participants of the summit

World Vision Ghana Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Technical Specialist, Yaw Attah Arhin, has urged the media to take its open defecation fight a notch higher in order to get the needed results.

He said the media has over the years shed light on the devastating impact of open defecation, sensitizing the public on the need for proper sanitary facilities, however the results have not been as expected.

Mr. Arhin therefore noted that it was time for the media to take the ‘stop open defecation’ agenda to the political class.

“I think beyond that of the discussions, beyond the newspaper publications, which are all very important, we also need to do something.

Let’s go beyond that and ensure that we are able to engage the highest political class. I mean that to say are always going to focus on the political class, because that is where the power to change things are,” he said.

Mr. Arhin was addressing the Media Coalition Against Open Defecation (M-CODe) National Working Group Empowerment Summit in Accra, sponsored by World Vision Ghana.

The Summit forms part of the M-CODe 2023 Anti-Open Defecation Nationwide Advocacy efforts to build the capacity of media practitioners to fight open defecation and develop and strengthen networks with strategic stakeholders.

Knowledge Management Expert, Greater Accra Metropolitan Area Sanitation and Water Project (GAMA SWP), Emmanuel Addai, speaking on “The Media and Promotion of Public and Communal Toilets” stressed the importance of public and communal toilets indicating that although communal toilets serve residential communities in the absence of household toilets the global emphasis was on household toilets.

Mr. Addai therefore urged the media to focus on and promote the construction of household toilets and not agitate for communal or public toilets.

He noted that the media should question the absence of household toilets, engage landlords for failing to provide toilets at home, and instead of trumpeting the absence of communal toilets in communities.

“We must hold landlords and landladies accountable for their failure to provide households with toilets instead of attacking political leaders and the government for their failure to provide a communal toilet,” he said.

M-CODe National Convenor, Francis Ameyibor, urged journalists to speak out and put the spotlight on communities that practice open defecation.

He said the coalition needed to challenge leadership and relevant authorities at all levels to act, while calling on assembly members to desist from taking money from squatters to put up wooden structures that are inconvenient.

Mr. Ameyibor said M-CODe was building alliances with strategic stakeholders, including the Regional Coordinating Council, Environmental Health Department, Ghana Education Service, Ghana Health Service, Community Water and Sanitation Agency, and the Department of Community Development, to revitalise advocacy against open defecation.

As part of national efforts to put an end to the practice, Mr. Ameyibor noted that empowerment through capacity building, connecting key players in the battle against open defecation, and developing a forum to expose communities still engaging in the practice were all important.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri