Intensify Campaign Against Poor Hygiene
Alhaji Sulemana Alhassan, the Upper West Regional Minister, has called for a united front and an innovative approach in dealing with poor sanitation practices that have engulfed many communities and created health hazards.
He said the fight against insanitary conditions in the region ought to be relentless because unhygienic practices bordered on attitudes and behaviours which remain the most difficult thing to change in human beings.
Alhaji Alhassan was speaking during the launch of Social Norms Campaign named: 'Open Defecation Free Ghana Campaign' in Wa on Tuesday.
A total of 414 communities, representing 35 percent of the 1,167 communities in the Upper West Region were declared Open Defecation Free (ODF).
The margin of reduction is 22.7 percent and this significantly contributes to the Region being placed first on the District League Table (DLT) by the Center for Democratic Development and UNICEF.
This translates into a reduction in open defecation from 71.9 percent in 2010 to 49.2 percent in 2014, according to the Ghana Demographic Health Survey.
Declaration of the communities as ODF follows the implementation of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach by the regional environmental health department.
Alhaji Alhassan said the 'war' against poor sanitation and hygiene is the responsibility of everyone and there is the need for all to embrace the effort.
He expressed fear that the Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG) which targets universal and equitable access to safe water sources, sanitation and hygiene by 2030, would evade Ghana if communities failed to deepen their efforts in controlling the sanitation menace.
He said the introduction of social norms as a development strategy is an innovative approach intended to address ODF efficiency and sustainability.
He expressed the hope that the social norms theory would further strengthen CLTS and sustain the results of declared ODF communities from slipping back into the practice.
'I should as well prompt ODF communities to inculcate acceptable behaviours that would encourage them to adopt the CLTS approach in dealing with insanitary conditions in their communities', he said.
The creation of a separate Ministry for Sanitation and Water Resources, he said, is a clear demonstration of government's commitment to tackling sanitation issues head-on.
The Minister expressed thanks to UNICEF for the good work in areas of sanitation and water in the region and urged the Department of Community Development to intensify its activities and effectively collaborate with key stakeholders in the implementation of the social norms theory.
Mr Henry Bagah, the Upper West Regional Environmental Health Officer, expressed optimism that the launch of the Ghana ODF Campaign would set another milestone to further reduce and eliminate open defecation in the region by December 2020.
The social norms campaign in the open defecation fight seeks to bring stakeholders to look at various norms in the communities and see how they could support the effort to end it.
'We should not allow social norms to limit us from protecting our future', he said, and urged all to join forces to end open defecation in the society.
By Prosper K. Kuorsoh, GNA