The newly inaugurated Media Coalition for Open Defecation (M-CODe) has urged the Government to set a target date for ending open defaecation across the country.
The Coalition said the Government should in addition, develop and publicise a roadmap that would lead to ending the menace in line with deadline it would set for itself.
During the launch of M-CODe in, Accra, Mr Cecil Nii Obodai, a Member of the Coalition, in a presentation, said the membership of the Coalition was being moved by passion to partner the Government to fight the menace that contributed to ranking Ghana 7th as the world’s dirtiest country, some three years ago.
The Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water: 2015 Update and Millennium Development Goals Assessment, a joint-monitoring report, released in July 2015, revealed that Ghana’s challenge to improve sanitation had become starker with the country dropping even further amongst the worst performing countries”.
That report said 7,500 children died annually in the country from diarrhoea, which is linked to unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation.
Mr Obodai, who is also a senior broadcaster with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, said the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources on its part, should establish a budget line for the eradication of open defecation in annual budgets that would sync with the roadmap and ensure that every school and health centre; whether public or private, had access to clean and hygienic toilet facilities by the end of 2019.
M-CODe had been established to support the campaign and push for policy and influence public sensitisation as well as to monitor to ensure that policies on open defecation and general sanitation were implemented.
M-CODe was also to help inform and educate the people to engender the needed behaviour change.
Membership of M-CODe, comprising various media houses – both the state owned and private media – was brought together to help government address the issue of open defecation being practised by close to 5.7 million Ghanaians.
The Ghana News Agency (GNA), New Times Corporation, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Multimedia Group, Daily Graphic and CitiFm are members.
Available statistics indicate that about one out of five Ghanaians defaecate in the open, while a UNICEF study has also revealed that one gram of human faeces may contain 10 million viruses, one million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts and 100 parasite eggs, all these having a negative consequences for health, productivity and socio-economic development.
In a speech read on behalf of Madam Cecilia Abena Dapaah, Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources by her Deputy Minister Patrick Boamah, she said it was the Government’s desire that all Ghanaians supported the drive towards improving upon sanitation in the country by playing their parts and changing their attitudes towards littering, open defecation and open urination.
She said she was happy that the media had taken up the challenge to also play their part in driving the country towards an open defaecation free (ODF) status.
ODF means that all community members were using sanitation facilities such as toilets, instead of going to the open for defaecation.
Madam Dapaah said the government had rolled out various measures to improve sanitation situation in the country and that the government’s agenda of ensuring that every household had improved toilet was on course.
“This Government strongly believes that providing toilets for Ghanaians is not only politically popular and socially beneficial, but it indeed makes good economic sense. Achieving the SDGs target of universal and adequate sanitation coverage improves the quality of life, including health, environmental and economic benefits.”
She said it was highly unacceptable that people still defecated openly and therefore, there was the need to take an urgent and decisive action to reverse the trend.
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