Posts tagged ‘open defecation’

February 13, 2016

Ghana: Journalists to Scoop Awards for Reporting About Open Defecation

By Ama Kudom-Agyemang

February 13, 2016

The fight to make Ghana an Open Defecation Free (ODF) country, has been taken to another level following the institutionalization of an award scheme for Ghanaian journalists dubbed, “Face of ODF Media Feature and Photo Contest.” It is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) and UNICEF, Ghana.

The scheme, launched in December last year, is meant to compliment national efforts in attaining the goal of ODF Ghana by 2020 as contained in the Ghana Sanitation and Water for All document of 2014.

A makeshift bathroom. Few people in developing countries are familiar with the dangerous health risks their families face due to their poor sanitary facilities.

A makeshift bathroom. Few people in developing countries are familiar with the dangerous health risks their families face due to their poor sanitary facilities.

However, it is doubtful, if the majority of Ghanaians are aware of this national goal which is just four years away.

The goal of an ODF Ghana by 2020, no doubt, has been necessitated by the nationwide practice of open defecation (OD) popularly known as “free range.”  It is a practice whereby people just defecate or shit in the open, leaving the faeces exposed and not giving a damn about the consequences.

But open defecation is deemed the riskiest of all sanitation practices, posing the greatest danger to human health and can have fatal consequences – particularly for the most vulnerable, especially young children. The risk lies in the fact that human contact with human excreta can transmit many infectious diseases including cholera and typhoid. It also affects the growth of children under five leading to stunting – a condition that distorts the physical growth and intellectual abilities in children.

Experts say one gram of human faeces contains over 10 million germs and once faeces is exposed, coming into contact with it is very easy – The fact is that we pick up germs with our hands from various points including when we clean ourselves after using the toilet, during playing or working, from objects such as doorknobs and stair railings as well as from handshakes. As long as the immediate surroundings and wider environment is polluted with faecal matter, it stands to reason that everything within its reach will be contaminated with the germs.

Probably, the practice is on-going because people are ignorant of the relationship between the practice and their health and general well-being. Additionally, they may be unaware that the practice perpetuates the vicious cycle of disease and entrenches poverty. Information dissemination is therefore crucial in the national fight to eliminate open defecation from the country.

To this end, the media is paramount and their contribution to the campaign against open defecation, should be appreciated. But much more, media innovativeness in investigating into issues, packaging the information collated and disseminating it to the public is to be recognized and awarded. Fact is, it is the Constitutional mandate of the media to disseminate information on all matters of public interest to the public.

The Ghanaian media was reminded of this Constitutional obligation by David Duncan, Chief of WASH (Water Sanitation and Hygiene), UNICEF, Ghana, at the launch of the “Face of ODF Media Feature and Photo Contest,” in Accra on Tuesday, December 2015. He said the Constitutional provision establishing the freedom and independence of the media, also charges the media to uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people of Ghana.

David Duncan, Chief of WASH, UNICEF, Ghana

David Duncan, Chief of WASH, UNICEF, Ghana

Mr. Duncan stated: “This is both a very powerful right and a very powerful responsibility.”  He noted that in the national quest to end open defecation, the media could discharge its responsibility, “by highlighting the challenges of open defecation in Ghana, by highlighting successes and failures in rising to this challenge, by telling the stories of how Ghanaians are impacted by open defecation, and how they are responding. By raising the profile of open defecation.”

He added that “… both the media and the Ghanaian public are then well placed to question how the country is not responding to these challenges and to hold ourselves accountable.” Mr. Duncan expressed concerned about the almost stagnated pace towards eliminating open defecation from Ghana. He said while the rest of the world is improving in the area of ensuring that most the population has access to toilets, “Ghana seems to be standing still.”

To support this claim, Mr. Duncan quoted some national statistics. “In 1990, 22% of Ghanaians defecated in the open. The 2014 DHS survey tells us that 21% of Ghanaians still do so. A one percent improvement in 24 years.” He pointed out, “At this rate, Ghana will be free of open defecation in 500 years.”

Mr. Duncan was of the view that media contribution could help reverse the current trend and facilitate the process towards the attainment of the goal of an open defecation free Ghana.

The Deputy Director of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate of the MLGRD, Cosmas Kambozie was of the same view. He said “with the support of the media the national goal of ODF Ghana can be achieved in the nearest foreseeable future.” He however pointed out that in addition to media contribution, the realization of the goal of ODF Ghana will require “significantly increased investments in order to improve sanitation.”

Mr. Kambozie noted that investments in sanitation will not only provide basic services, but will also reap benefits well beyond the water and sanitation sector. He stressed that “investments in water and sanitation in fact are investments in health, education, the environment and poverty reduction.

The “Face of ODF Media Feature and Photo Contest,” is open to all Ghanaian journalists. Thematic areas for the media to focus on, as stated in the factsheet on the Contest include: the menace of open defecation; community efforts to become ODF; exemplary leadership (by DCEs, REHOs, natural leaders, etc.) that has triggered ODF initiatives; conflicts in the implementation of the ODF initiative and how they can be turned around for the benefit of the people and nation at large; and a cost benefit analysis of OD & ODF.

According to the factsheet, submitted articles should have been published or broadcast between January to June 2016. These stories should be accompanied by compelling photos that can tell stories on their own. Submissions from the radio categories are however exempted from this criteria. The choice of words and tone of voice in such stories, should vividly portray the imagery of the “Face of ODF.”

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June 1, 2015

Africa to Eliminate Open Defecation By 2030

Babatope Babalobi
June 1, 2015

Africa’s Ministers of Water Resources and Sanitation have fixed 2030 as the terminal year to end open defecation, presently practiced by 233 million Africans.

According to the ‘Ngor declaration’ issued at the end of a recent three day meeting, the Ministers aligned themselves with the aspiration of the draft Sustainable Development Goals which targets to “by 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and an end to open defecation, paying special attention to the need of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations”.

A pit toilet at a public school in Mbarara, Uganda. Up to 2.5 billion people -- one in three people in the world -- do not have a toilet or access to sustainable sanitation

A pit toilet at a public school in Mbarara, Uganda. Up to 2.5 billion people — one in three people in the world — do not have a toilet or access to sustainable sanitation

Of the 233 million people in Africa still practicing open defecation, Nigeria takes the lead with 39 million people still defecating in the open, 34 million in Ethiopia, 17 million in Sudan, 13 million in Niger, 10 million in Mozambique, 9 million people in Burkina Faso, 9 million in Madagascar, 8 million in South Sudan, 8 million in Chad, 6 million in Tanzania, while the rest of Africa has 80 million people, according to WHO//UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) figures.

The issue of access and lack of access to safe and improved sanitation facilities came to the fore when Water and Sanitation professionals convened in Senegal, a West African country for the 4th edition of the triennial Africa Sanitation and Hygiene Conference, popularly known as AfricaSan, May 25 and 27 2015.

Organized by the Africa Minister’s Council on Water (AMCOW) the largest inter-governmental body on Water and Sanitation in Africa comprising 54 Ministers of Water Resource ministries in Africa, AfricaSan4’s theme was ‘Making Sanitation a reality in Africa’, and took place in King Fahd Palace Hotels in Dakar, Senegal.

The kernel of discussions of the three day conference that attracted close to 1000 participants from the government, civil society, media, donor bodies, private sector, and development community, was how Africans can have sustainable access to improved sanitation facilities, which the WHO//UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for water and sanitation defines as a ‘sanitation facility that hygienically separates human excreta from human contact’.

March 25, 2015

Global Sanitation Experts Hail Madagascar Roadmap to become Open-Defecation Free Nation by 2019

WaterSan Perspective
March 25, 2015

A high-level delegation of global sanitation and hygiene experts is in Madagascar for the biannual Steering Committee meeting of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), a United Nations body devoted solely to the sanitation and hygiene needs of vulnerable and marginalized people around the world.



During the visit, the Steering Committee will see WSSCC’s Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) programme in Madagascar, locally known as the Fonds d’Appui pour l’Assainissement (FAA), in action. Developed and guided strategically by a diverse group of national stakeholders, the FAA is facilitated by Medical Care Development International (MCDI) and implemented by 30 sub-grantee organisations.

It has evolved into a driving force in the national movement to end open defecation, which adversely affects the health, livelihood and educational opportunities for 10 million people in Madagascar and some 1 billion worldwide.

The five-day Steering Committee visit is dedicated to reinforcing the country’s top-level political commitment to a new “National Road Map” for the water, sanitation and hygiene sector that aims to end open defecation in Madagascar by 2019. Madagascar’s most senior politicians, including President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, Prime Minister Jean Ravelonarivo, the President of the National Assembly, and Dr. Johanita Ndahimananjara, Minister of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, have committed their support to achieving open-defecation free (ODF) status.

“Since 2010, Madagascar has made tremendous progress in ensuring access to basic sanitation for the rural population of the country, by introduction and scaling up of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS),” says Dr. Chris W. Williams, Executive Director of WSSCC. “Nearly 1.4 million people now live free of open defecation in over 10,900 communities throughout the country, one of the best examples of how individual and local initiative can lead to collective, transformative change for an entire country.”

The visit also coincides with heightened global awareness of sanitation in 2015. The United Nations Secretary General and Deputy-Secretary General have launched a Call to Action on Sanitation, encouraging global institutions, governments, households, the private sector, NGOs, and Parliamentarians, to eradicate the practice of open defecation.

A latrine in rural Uganda.  The world remains behind in providing universal access to safe and hygienic toilets.

A latrine in rural Uganda. The world remains behind in providing universal access to safe and hygienic toilets.

“FAA has become an important catalyst for the initiation and creation of a national, regional and local movement in favour of eliminating open defecation,” says Dr. Rija Lalanirina Fanomeza, GSF Programme Manager, MCDI. “A wide spectrum of sanitation and hygiene stakeholders in Madagascar are actively collaborating to have maximum impact on the ground.”

Ever since President Rajaonarimampianina’s government came into power in January 2014, sanitation has received special attention, and the need for achieving an open-defecation free Madagascar has been considered inevitable by the highest political leadership of the nation.

During the visit, the delegation will visit villages which are now free of open defecation, and those that are not, in order to gain a firsthand understanding of the how and why people change and sustain their sanitation and hygiene behaviours.

November 19, 2014

Malawi: UNICEF Calls for More Toilets

George Mhango
November 19, 2014

UNICEF officials in Malawi and UN headquarters have warned that slow progress on sanitation and the entrenched practice of open defecation among millions around the world continue to put children and their communities at risk as the world celebrates World Toilet Day.

Meanwhile, UNICEF in collaboration with other stakeholders such as DFID and Concern Universal are working with communities, sensitizing them about the importance of hygiene and dangers of open defecation.

As a result, 440 villages in the central region districts of Dowa and Kasungu have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). At the national level, the percentage of villages that have been declared as open defecation free has increased from 3 percent in 2011 to 19 percent in 2014.

Poor Sanitation and hygiene remains one of dangerous threats to good health in most Africa’s towns

Poor Sanitation and hygiene remains one of dangerous threats to good health in most Africa’s towns

To mark this year’s World Toilet Day, UNICEF is supporting the celebration of the 440 ODF villages in Kasungu and Dowa districts. The event which is a collaboration between Concern Universal, UNICEF, DFID and Dowa’s District Coordination Team (DCT) will showcase the ability of local communities to achieve universal access to safe and private toilets.

Eighty-two per cent of the 1 billion people practicing open defecation live in just 10 countries: India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Niger, Nepal, China, and Mozambique. The numbers of people practicing open defecation are still rising in 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, though they have declined in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. In Nigeria, numbers of open defecators increased from 23 million in 1990 to 39 million in 2012.

Globally, some 1.9 billion people have gained access to improved sanitation since 1990. However, progress has not kept up with population growth and the Millennium Development Goal target on sanitation is unlikely to be reached by 2015 at current rates of progress.

The inter-governmental Open Working Group on the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals have recommended that the new goals include a target of achieving adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and ending open defecation by 2030.

Reports say some 2.5 billion people worldwide do not have adequate toilets and among them 1 billion defecate in the open – in fields, bushes, or bodies of water – putting them, and especially children, in danger of deadly faecal-oral diseases like diarrhoea.

A makeshift bathroom. Few people in developing countries are familiar with the dangerous health risks their families face due to their poor sanitary facilities.

A makeshift bathroom. Few people in developing countries are familiar with the dangerous health risks their families face due to their poor sanitary facilities.

Statistics show that in 2013 more than 340,000 children under five died from diarrhoeal diseases due to a lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene – an average of almost 1,000 deaths per day.

“Lack of sanitation is a reliable marker of how the poorest in a country are faring,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEF’s global water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes. “But although it is the poor who overwhelmingly do not have toilets, everyone suffers from the contaminating effects of open defecation, so everyone should have a sense of urgency about addressing this problem.”

“The challenge of open defecation is one of both equity and dignity, and very often of safety as well, particularly for women and girls,” Wijesekera noted. “They have to wait until dark to relieve themselves, putting them in danger of attack, and worse, as we have seen recently.”

In May, the hanging of two teenage girls in Uttar Pradesh who had gone out after dark to defecate caused international shock and dismay, and highlighted the security issues involved in open defecation.

UNICEF’s Community Approaches to Total Sanitation addresses the problem at the local level by involving communities in devising solutions, and has led to some 26 million people across more than 50 countries abandoning the practice of open defecation since 2008.

May 31, 2014

Nigeria: WaterAid Supports UN’s Call to End Open Defecation

WaterAid and WaterSan Perspective
May 31, 2014

WaterAid has welcomed a new UN campaign championed by UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson to end the practice of open defecation.

Over one billion people around the world relieve themselves in bushes, in fields or at the sides of roads or railway tracks for lack of even a basic, shared pit in the ground. This is 14 per cent of the world’s population, or one person in seven.

A latrine in rural Uganda.  The world remains behind in providing universal access to safe and hygienic toilets.

A latrine in rural Uganda. The world remains behind in providing universal access to safe and hygienic toilets.

Where there is open defecation, pathogens spread quickly, causing diarrhoea, cholera, bilharzia (a freshwater worm) and other diseases.

In a country like Nigeria, recent WHO/UNICEF JMP figures indicate that about 122 million Nigerians do not have access to improved sanitation and a staggering 39 million (23 per cent of the population) practice open defecation.

Based on these figures, indications are that at present rates of progress, Sub-Saharan Africa overall will not become open defecation free until 2063.

WaterAid is campaigning for everyone, everywhere to have access to safe water and basic sanitation by 2030. Some 748 million people in the world are without safe water, while another 2.5 billion are without adequate sanitation.

Dr. Michael Ojo, Country Representative of WaterAid Nigeria, said: “It is time for a drastic change to the status quo. It is hard to believe that in this day and age, people must still risk their health and dignity for the lack of a basic toilet. It’s even more difficult for girls and women who risk danger and harassment every time they go in search of a private place to relieve themselves. Safe water and basic sanitation has to be a top priority in effectively tackling extreme poverty. We call upon our leaders to take action.”

Without basic toilets, girls are more likely to drop out of school, and adults are less able to care for their families or to work, exacting huge social and economic costs.

Several people living in such places are not aware that poor sanitation may cause lots of diseases

Several people living in such places are not aware that poor sanitation may cause lots of diseases

The new UN campaign to end open defecation is expected to last till the end of next year, as the UN develops a new set of development goals to replace the original Millennium Development Goals.

Among the goals were pledges to cut in half the proportions of people without safe water and sanitation, respectively. Though the overall universal target on water has been met; some individual countries, especially developing countries like Nigeria, are yet to meet those goals and those still without safe water are the hardest to reach. The target on sanitation remains the most off-track.

Recently, in April this year, Nigeria joined 44 other developing countries at the Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting and committed once again to achieving universal access to water and sanitation and eliminating open defecation nationwide by 2025.

Up to 1,400 children die every day from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation.

November 18, 2011

Africa going backwards on continent’s biggest child killer

Abdulkarim Ssengendo
November 18, 2011

A new report Off-track, off-target, released today by the international charity WaterAid (, shows that there are more people in the world today lacking adequate sanitation services than in 1990.

Unless urgent action is taken, nearly all governments in Sub-Saharan African will fail to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) pledge they made to halve the proportion of people without sanitation by 2015.

A pitlatrine at Kitojo Primary school in Mbarara district Uganda.

On the current trajectory, it will take over two centuries for Sub-Saharan Africa to meet its sanitation MDG target. What is more, only 20 countries in the region are on track to meet the water MDG target by 2015. All of this has massive consequences for child mortality in Africa.

Released a day before World Toilet Day, the report states that to get the sanitation and water MDGs back on track, countries in sub-Saharan Africa need to spend at least 3.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) on these services.

The report also calls on donor countries to double global aid flows to water, sanitation and hygiene by prioritizing an additional US$10 billion per year.

The report also identifies that it is Africa’s poorest people who are being left behind; poor people in Africa are five times less likely to have access to adequate sanitation and over 15 times more likely to practise open defecation than Africa’s rich.

According to WaterAid, governments should tackle this inequity through better targeting of water and sanitation resources and services to the poor.

The WaterAid report highlights that the shortfall in water and sanitation services costs Sub-Saharan African countries around 5% of GDP each year ($47.7 billion in 2009), more than is provided in development aid to the entire continent ($47.6 billion in 2009).

In a coordinated move, an international group of 34 female economists have also written an open letter to the leaders of eleven donor and developing country governments, to draw attention to the international water and sanitation crisis. In it they state:
“On the day you read this letter, 4,000 more children under five will die due to diseases brought about through unsafe water and poor sanitation. This equates to more child deaths than AIDS, malaria and measles combined, making it the biggest child killer in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Every $1 invested in water and sanitation generates on average an $8 return; making it the deal that will deliver for billions of the poorest people across the globe.”

Barbara Frost, WaterAid’s Chief Executive, said:
“Governments in both donor and developing countries have it in their power to save hundreds of thousands of children’s lives every year by increasing what they spend on water and sanitation. Investments in these basic services are engines of economic growth and prosperity in developing countries, but unless we grasp this opportunity we will be failing the millions of poor people whose health, livelihoods and opportunities suffer because they lack these essential services.”

The Off-track, off-target report is being published on the day WaterAid launches the Water Works campaign to urge governments across the world to do more to tackle the water and sanitation crisis. The campaign aims to show world leaders that taps and toilets are simple, effective and affordable, and that investing in these basic human needs is an urgent priority.

On World Toilet Day WaterAid will also join other members of the End Water Poverty campaign in 50 coordinated ‘Crisis Talk’ events in over 20 countries where local groups will be meeting with politicians to discuss the water and sanitation crisis.

In Tanzania, Crisis Talk events are being organised to coincide with the local government budgeting cycle; in the UK, WaterAid’s local supporter groups are meeting with their Members of Parliament; in Bangladesh regional events will be held where the public affected by poor water and sanitation provision will hold members of parliament to account.

Every day 2,000 children die due to diarrhoea brought about by a lack of safe water and inadequate sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa. This is the biggest cause of deaths of children under the age of five in the region. Four out of ten people don’t have access to safe water, while seven out of ten people don’t have access to adequate sanitation.

October 17, 2011

India: Sanitation and Hygiene Should be as Prominent as Immunisation

WJA Reporter
15th October, 2011

The Executive Director Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council Jon Lane wants issues of sanitation and hygiene to be as prominent as immunisation worldwide.

He however laments that this might take long.

“There is still a long way to go before sanitation becomes as prominent as immunisation,” notes Lane.

Jon Lane, Executive Director Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council

He was speaking at the closure of this year’s Global Forum on Sanitation and Hygiene in Mumbai India.

Lane highlighted the importance of improved sanitation and hygiene in economic development of countries and called for finding political and social solutions to sanitation and hygiene issues.

“We need to spend time persuading politicians that sanitation is important for them,” he stressed.

Lane suggested that for sanitation for all to be achieved, there is need for working hard, speaking plain language for everybody to understand, strong leadership and thinking big.

Earlier, while speaking in one of the breakout sessions, Nomathemba Neseni, Commissioner, Human Rights Commission of Zimbabwe noted that all people have a right to improved sanitation and hygiene. She termed these rights as, “the second generation rights.”

Likewise, throughout the week, participants at this forum who totalled to close to 500 called for working together to ensure sanitation and hygiene for all people.

Participants listen attentively during the Forum

In one of the breakout session, the participants resolved that punishments alone may not motivate people to change behaviours but community involvement. They were referring to the use of punishments and sanctions to end open defecation and enforce construction and use of pit latrines in rural communities.

However, Julian Kyomuhangi, assistant commissioner, ministry of Health, Uganda noted that the role and use of rewards and sanctions to motivate people to change behaviours was working effectively in Uganda.

Kyomuhangi disclosed that this method had helped to motivate people to construct pit latrines and stop open defecation in most parts of northern and central Uganda.

The 2011 Global Forum on Sanitation and Hygiene offered to the participants a crucial opportunity to share ideas on leadership, skills, knowledge, behavior change and actions that can improve the lives of the 2.6 billion people in the world without safe sanitation and hygiene.

The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) was the conference host and organizer.

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