Kariyaata (UE), June 20, GNA- Access to sanitation facilities in rural communities is a necessity, and any community that is negligent in putting in place simple plans to have places of convenience for instance, does so at its peril.
Global Health Observatory data on use of improved sanitation facilities indicate that 95 countries or territories met Millennium Development Goals (MDG) target for sanitation.
The target was missed by almost 700 million people, and still 2.4 billion people lacked access to improved sanitation in 2015.
According to the report a staggering 946 million people (13 per cent of the world population) remain with no access to toilets, or any form of sanitation facility and therefore practice open defecation, resulting in high levels of environmental contamination and exposure to the risks of infection.
For the Kariyaata community in the Garu District, passing the district protocols of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) was no mean effort as the people contributed in terms of labour to build household pit latrines.
According to Assistant Environment and Sanitation Officer, Mr Juventus Asanyuure for a community to attain Open Defecation Free status (ODF) there must be absence of excreta in the vicinity of a house, a latrine with a superstructure should be available with a means of keeping flies from the pit.
There should also be a hand washing facility with water and soap or any substitute and evidence that all these are being used.
The action of Kariyaata community complements Ghana’s efforts to place priority on eliminating open defecation and to attain the sanitation targets, key to the Sustainable Development Goals which succeeded the MDGs that expired in December 2015.
Practicing open defecation could be very deadly to humans and have fatal consequences especially for the vulnerable and children’s growth.
Besides, open defecation have significant impact on financial tolls on the nation running into about 79 million dollars annually.
For Mr Philip Yoosah, an official with Environmental Protection Agency said the constant disease outbreaks in the Kariyaata community that make children often fall sick made him to approach members of the community and to begin educating them on hygiene and the need to confine their faecal matter.
The remarkable improvement in sanitation and hygiene through successful implementation of CLTS Approach in Kariyaata community was through intervention of UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.
This led every member of the community wide awake from the doldrums and to realise that the consequences of open defecation is real.
For a community to reach an ODF status it is recognised at a number of stages among which include declaration, verification and then certification.
Communities generally declare themselves ODF when they believe that open defecation has been eliminated, moving to the verification level is when an independent, external review team visits the community and confirms that ODF has in fact been achieved.
However the same efforts and stages cannot be said of other rural communities especially in some communities in the Builsa Districts where majority of the people practice open defecation.
Mr Amadu Kanjaka, like any other farmer, his dream to move out one day from his father’s compound to start a family of his own and building a household latrine for the family was a priority.
However this plan by him and some community members has been met with challenges from land owners. First reason is because the piece of land on which Mr Kanjaka built a house was given to him by his father who also got it through settlement in the community for many years.
The frustration of Kanjaka and any other victim of circumstance have no choice but to revert to attend natures call in the bushes, farms and places close to river sources.
For the fathers of Kanjaka, they lived on past glory of when society did not see the lack of a toilet as an unacceptable thing to do and therefore construction of such facilities was not perceived as aspirational.
Moves therefore by some to extend toilet projects to households have proved futile. This indicates clear signs of excreta around households that have no functioning latrines and therefore do their own thing in open places.
In 2012 and 2013 a total 65 communities constituting more than 4,073 households according to reports were triggered in both Builsa North and Builsa South by UNICEF and other non -governmental organisations.
In 2013 alone 12,207 households were triggered and out of this number only 34 households have latrines and hand washing facilities.
Unlike the Tubong community in Garu, five households have come together to build one pit latrine which serves close to 35 people.
Explaining the rationale for lumping the toilet facility for five households, Mr Yoosah said the houses concerned only have very old family heads whose children had travelled out from the community for greener pastures.
As old people, according to him, the community did not have to pressurise them into building pit latrines close to their homes more so when their sons were not at home at the time.
Therefore the plan to achieve total sanitation on course with everybody using a household latrine.
Growing concerns for the need to promote total sanitation calls for collaborative efforts such as this and for communities that have similar challenges as Kanjaka could emulate the practice at Kariyaata where a number of households are using one facility to reduce occurrence of open defecation.
Growing populations and the need for land for developmental purposes have come with emerging challenges where people have to adjust with already crowded settlements and households that cannot put up toilet facilities due to lack of space.
In the upper East Region, land demarcations and mappings which were drawn in the 60’s are beginning to outlive their usefulness with increase in population and rate of land grapping.
This current challenge of overcrowding settlements have led to many tenants and households practicing open defecation in the Bolgatanga Municipality.
Mr Peter Awal, a retired staff of the Ghana News Agency noted that the Junior staff Quarters, which were built in the early 60’s by the Late Kwame Nkrumah and the Low cost housing built under General Kutu Acheampong, were provided with pan latrines.
Over the years however, while the houses have not seen rehabilitation some tenants have either locked them up whilst some have made efforts to modernise the facilities by converting them into water closets.