Mr. Wisdom Aditsey, Metropolitan Environmental Health Officer (MEHO) at the Tema Metropolitan Assembly, has revealed that most metropolitan, municipal, and district assemblies lack adequate surveillance mechanisms and capacity for the Environmental Health Unit (EHU) to enforce the laws against open defecation.
“Before you enforce the law, you must necessarily arrest someone who is practicing open defecation, and the unit has difficulties in arresting them as we need to collaborate with the police, which is sometimes difficult,” he said.
Mr. Aditsey was speaking at the Media Coalition Against Open Defecation (M-CODe) National Working Group Empowerment Summit in Accra, which was sponsored by World Vision Ghana.
The M-CODe Empowerment Summit forms part of the "M-CODe 2023 Anti-Open Defecation Nationwide Advocacy efforts, supported by World Vision Ghana.
The M-CODe is building alliances with strategic stakeholders, including the Regional Coordinating Council, Environmental Health Department, Ghana Education Service, Ghana Health Service, Community Water and Sanitation Agency, and the Department of Community Development, to revitalize advocacy against open defecation.
Other stakeholders include the Department of Gender, the National Commission for Civic Education, Regional Environmental Officers, the Environmental Protection Agency, World Vision, and civil society organizations.
Mr. Aditsey also said that the Environmental Health Directorate’s major challenge is the inertia of security collaboration and the lack of logistics for monitoring the development of squatter settlements in the metropolis.
He added that sanitation is a shared responsibility; therefore, to end open defecation across the country, the unit needed the help of the police and other security agencies to arrest perpetrators who were involved in the act.
He noted that EHU does a lot of sensitization and education and appealed to household owners and landlords to first provide toilets in their homes to avoid defecation in the open because it is against the law.
He said, “Sensitization and education are important because of the individuals, but the idea of ending open defecation will solve a lot of health and community problems in the metropolis”.
He again stressed the mandate for all house owners and landlords to ensure that all houses and buildings have toilet facilities in them.
He also expressed concerns about migration into urban centers and squatter settlements as major challenges the Environmental Health Directorate faces to curb Open Defecation (OD).
Mr. Aditsey noted squatters because they have no permanent structure, often do not have toilet facilities, and engage in open defecation around their location. “This is a major problem most metropolitan, municipal, and district health officers are facing”.
He also added that the proliferation of makeshift or slums in otherwise residential, industrial, or commercial centers is also contributing to the challenge of open defecation.
Mr. Yaw Attah Arhin, World Vision Ghana Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Technical Specialist, who opened the M-CODe National Working Group Empowerment Summit, stressed the need for stakeholders to work together towards the objective of ending open defecation by 2030.
Mr. Francis Ameyibor, M-CODe National Convenor, noted that empowerment through capacity building, connecting key players in the battle against open defecation, and developing a forum to expose communities still engaging in the practice are all important forms of nationwide efforts to end the problem.
The M-CODe National Convenor mentioned the public awareness campaign towards the global aim of eliminating open defecation (OD) by 2030 and the empowerment of media, who serve as important partners in revitalizing locally.
-CDA Consult || Contributor