Accra, Oct. 2, GNA – About 21 talented Ghanaian artists have displayed their handiwork at the Alliance Franciase in Accra as part of a countrywide campaign to combat open defecation, which kills 3,6000 children every year through diarrhoea.
Works of the local artists of different mediums would rouse public discourse in market squares, public transport, district assemblies, offices and airwaves, and further the mission of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on the matter.
The move seeks to inspire traditional authorities and policy makers to place the debate into government and institutional circles.
The artists project titled: “Let’s talk shit,” is fronted by Alliance Franciase in collaboration with UNICEF and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
Various mediums of the fine art such as painting, sculpture, photography, installation, videography and theatre displayed how shitting outside designated toilets threaten public health and balloon government budget on dealing with poor sanitation.
The artists seek to create a conversation with people through visual arts by exhibiting pieces of their works at the national level and in communities.
Their models are to challenge existing Ghanaian social and cultural norms that perpetuate activities of free range.
Susan Namondo Ngongi, Representative of UNICEF Ghana said: “We should not be ashamed of using the word shit.
“What is shocking is the fact that five million Ghanaians are defecating in the open and 43 per cent of schools are not equipped with proper sanitation facilitates or do not even have water!”
“While the title of the programme may sound shocking to some people, it is expected to generate attention and initiate a dialogue on the issue.’’
In a speech read on his behalf, Alhaji Collins Dauda, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development said about 2.5 billion people in the world representing 37 per cent of the world population do not have access to a clean safe toilet.
In reference to Ghana, he said 19 per cent of our population defecate in the open and only 15 per cent have access to improved toilets, which means that about 75 per cent of Ghanaians have no access to toilets, despite the fact that this is a basic necessity.
He said about one gram of human faeces dropped in an open place, contains about 10 million viruses and about one million bacteria whilst these pathogens as they are called, spread diseases of all kinds, which leads to either death or maiming of our citizens.
He explained that the inadequate provision of toilet and other hygienic facilities have kept some brilliant girls from going to school
Alhaji Dauda said the absence of important and crucial life ‘support system and subsequent cases of drop outs from school has resulted in socio-economic consequences and many other pressures in the future.
“Apart from our future leaders being denied the chance to benefit from the school system and earn a living for themselves in future, they are also denied the chance of contributing to the development of their societies,” he said.
To stop open defecation in Ghana, the Ministry in collaboration with its partners has rolled out innovative strategies to address the issue, which includes continuous sensitisation of the public and expanding the Community Led Total Sanitation approach to all the 10 regions, from the current seven regions.
“These efforts among others will result in the reduction of open defecation and eventually the elimination of the practice. I believe this is possible. We can surely achieve an Open Defecation free Ghana,” he said.
He expressed gratitude to the creative arts fraternity, UNICEF and Alliance Francaise for their enormous support to the Ministry to fight the menace.
Mr Frederic Dart, Director of the Alliance Francaise expressed the commitment of his outfit to support to the Ministry and UNICEF to bring the issue open defecation to the fore.
He said the programme provides the artist community with a great opportunity to show that their role is not about ‘decoration’ or beauty but about engaging on social issues.