The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has collaborated with the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to deliberate on the promotion of Open Defecation-Free (ODF) communities in Ghana.
Currently, it is estimated that over five million Ghanaians defecate in the open and US$290 million is lost to sanitation each year. Also, Ghana loses US$79 million annually to open-defecation. According to UNICEF, the menace is more pronounced in its impact on health as 3,600 children die from diarrhea, a consequence of poor sanitation.
Speaking at the event, Kwasi Boateng Adjei, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development called on Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to take up the campaign on sanitation and engineer more formidable solutions to the challenge.
He mentioned that his ministry has instituted close monitoring interventions, citizen engagements and resource mobilization to support the initiative.
“We have also integrated the ODF agenda as an indicator in the assessment tool for qualifying MMDAs to access the District Assembly Common Fund Response Grant, a grant co-funded by the government and other development partners,” said Mr. Kwasi Boateng, adding that “We wish to entreat the MMDAs to make use of the Assembly sub structures to champion the ODF agenda.”
Also in attendance was the Netherlands High Commissioner to Ghana, Ron Strikker, who pleaded the government of Netherlands to support sanitation campaigns in Ghana.
Currently, over 5,000 communities in Ghana are ODF and over 100,000 toilets have been built in the past five years.
According to the Ghana Statistical Service, the regions in the north have contributed significantly to the ODF results in the country with open defecation reducing by 20 percent in the north from 2012-2017 by the National Statistical Service.
Nandom District of the Upper West Region is the first district to be declared district-wide Open Defecation-Free (ODF).
The event recognized and honoured selected persons including volunteers, traditional leaders, facilitators, media practitioners, and groups that have demonstrated the greatest interest and commitment to open defecation.
It also sought to raise awareness on the importance of living in clean environments, and to showcase the successes achieved at the decentralized level.