Ubor Wumbe Dawuni, Chief of Bunbong in the Yendi Municipality has said since the Bunbong town attained Open Defaecation Free (ODF) status, the quality of living amongst the residents is now much higher.
He said “Now, the town is very clean. You don’t see many flies again. If you go to the clinic now, the diseases we were battling as a result of Open Defaecation (OD) have reduced drastically. If you come to the community, you will realise that the quality of living is much higher. I see people wearing much nicer clothes.”
He added that “A lot more businesses are opening up in the town. This could be attributed to the improved hygiene and sanitation practices because if people are healthy and strong all the time, they can work all the time but if half the time they are sick or their children are sick, then there will be a reduction in production or even income.”
Ubor Dawuni shared this testimony at a ceremony in Tamale to end the Enhanced Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), and Accelerated Sanitation projects implemented by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in eight regions in the country with support from Canada.
The Enhanced WASH, and Accelerated Sanitation projects were implemented within a period of eight years (2012 to 2020) to touch lives locally while responding to global benchmarks such as the Sustainable Development Goals as well as to create opportunities for people to have access to basic WASH services.
The beneficiary regions included Northern, North East, Savannah, Upper East, Upper West, Volta and Central.
Prior to the implementation of the projects, there was an average of 75 per cent of households practising OD in the five regions in the north.
As a result of the implementation of the projects, over 1,108 communities and 35 small towns achieved ODF status giving 368,153 children and their families excreta free environment to live and thrive while close to three-quarter of a million people now practise handwashing with soap.
Also, 353 schools have been provided with gender and disability-friendly WASH facilities and 91 health facilities have received sustainable WASH facilities and all 444 institutions supported with WASH facilities were supported with facility management plans including the provision of operation and maintenance training to local care takers.
In view of this, the OD practice by households in the five northern regions has reduced to an average of 25%.
Ubor Dawuni lauded the Enhanced WASH and Accelerated Sanitation projects for helping his community to attain the ODF status saying “now, our destiny is in our own hands. As opinion leaders, we will keep pushing by talking to our people to continue to use their toilets” urging the Yendi Municipal Assembly to continue to invest in WASH to attain improved sanitation across the area and sustain the gains.
Mr Fiachra McAsey, Deputy Representative, UNICEF, Ghana said the projects had a significant impact in building institutional capacity and improving the enabling environment for sustaining and replicating the work done.
He added that the projects also significantly strengthened the private sector’s role in WASH sector by promoting engagement of small business, local artisans and village level technicians.
He said “Low level of public financing is one of the critical areas that the WASH sector has been facing in Ghana. The project has not only introduced result-based financing to make best use of the limited resources in sanitation sub-sector but also introduced innovative revolving loan scheme to leverage household financing their own facilities.”
He was happy that the projects helped to solve some of the persistent problems of the country, which included high rates of OD, and low access to basic sanitation.
Mr McAsey, therefore, encouraged partners, particularly within the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources and MMDAs to find sufficient resources to scale-up the low-cost and proven approaches.
Ms Louise Paris, Deputy Director of Operations, Global Affairs Canada said “Canada is confident that the Government of Ghana at both National, Regional and District levels will continue to deepen the footprint of Enhanced WASH and Accelerated Sanitation. It will be great to see the expansion of these services to more communities, and particularly the many women and girls for whom they make a huge difference.”
Alhaji Shani Alhassan Saibu, Northern Regional Minister commended partners for their support, which had led to improved WASH practices in the region as well as helping to ensure retention of girls in schools while improving health outcomes for especially women and children.
Mrs Cecilia Abena Dapaah, Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, who was represented during the event, expressed need for the media to constantly highlight the need for communities to own household toilets and use them to keep them healthy.