Mr Osman Munmuni, a UNICEF WASH specialist, says about 80 per cent of Ghanaians are exposed to the risk of consuming faecal contaminated water.
He said this was a result of the practice of open defecation, which eradication had become difficult for communities across the country.
Mr Mumuni was delivering the keynote address at the 2021 World Toilet Day celebration held in Ho on the theme: “Stop Open Defecation. Own a Household Toilet Now. Let’s Play Our Role in a Covid-19 Era.”
“In Ghana, access to basic sanitation is very low; a huge percentage of our people are still defecating in the open. Eighty per cent of households in this country are at risk of consuming fecally contaminated water,” the specialist stated.
Mr Mumuni said UNICEF remained at the forefront of promoting the construction and the use of the toilets and considered the Volta Region a “very important Region for its programmes.”
He said UNICEF would continue to play a key role in ensuring sanitation was on top of the agenda.
“I will like to assure you that UNICEF will support the Region as we do, and we will continue this commitment to ensure that this thing is completely eradicated. There would not be any open defecation in this Region come the next five years,” he assured.
Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, Volta Regional Minister, said the Region’s sanitation coverage stood at nine per cent and left a great gap to cover.
“It would be difficult, but not impossible,” he said, calling on all to come together to promote household latrines, sensitize on ending open defecation, and commit to ending donor reliance for sanitary facilities.”
He said a five-year open defecation eradication campaign was attainable, noting the “major” role of the various District and Municipal Assemblies.
Madam Stella Kumedzro, Regional Environmental Health Officer, said a regionwide open defecation free status remained the vision of stakeholders and would uphold a league table of sanitation to foster competition among the districts.
She noted that an award scheme for excelling individuals in the sanitation fight would help motivate commitment and appealed to all to take up ambassadorial roles in support.
Mrs Victoria Letsa, who chaired the event, asked to consider the importance of toilet facilities to the health and safety of all and help expand its coverage.
She added that sanitation access held the chunk of menstrual health challenges of adolescent girls and had women and children as the most vulnerable and, therefore, entreated all to join the campaign for total sanitation.
“We have to sit up as a Region. We have to sit up as communities and we have to sit up as individuals to make sure that open defecation is completely eradicated from our communities.”
World Toilet Day was adopted on 24 July 2013, entreating UN member nations to expand access to sanitary facilities across the country.
WASH partners in the Region attended the programme and which included NGOs and other organisations operating within the sector.
A Regional Sanitation league table was outdoored, which had the Akatsi South district leading with 59 communities free from open defecation.
Plan International Ghana, NGO implementing UNICEF’s WASH programming in the District, said it would be focusing its efforts in the Region for a prompt end to open defecation.
Citations and prizes were given to outstanding individuals on the sanitation campaign and included sanitation focal persons, community natural leaders, traditional authorities and Local Assemblies.