Mr Salifu Saeed, the Northern Regional Minister, has said Open Defecation (OD) rate in the Northern Region currently stands at 56.8 per cent, which is a 10 per cent reduction of the 2017 rate which stood at 67.6 per cent.

He said government with other stakeholders have put in place institutional structures like Public Senior High Schools (SHS) sanitation and hygiene league table to reduce OD to ensure that a clean environment is sustained in the region.

Mr Saeed said this during the launch of the first Public Senior SHS sanitation and hygiene league table in Tamale on Monday.

The program, organized by the Northern Regional Coordinating Council (NRCC) in collaboration with the Northern Regional Education, Environmental Health and Sanitation and supported by UNICEF, was to improve the basic sanitation in the SHS by creating awareness on using school toilets rather than practicing open defecation.

He urged the public to be committed in the effort to keep their environment tidy and also stop the practice of OD to improve the region-wide Open Defecation Free (ODF) effort.

Mr Saeed said introducing the league table to these schools would help the young once to recognize the importance of good sanitation and hygiene practices as part of the survival and development of society.

He said it would also create a positive competition among SHSs in the region to fight against open defecation on their campuses.

Mr Saeed said, hopefully, the programme would also serve as a wakeup call to all key stakeholders of these schools to support government’s efforts to address challenges of good toilet facilities in second cycle schools.

Alhaji Mohammed Harun Cambodia, the Northern Regional Director of Education, called on parents to show a good example by putting a stop to open defecation so that their children would also learn from them.

He urged the students to wash their hands very well before eating to prevent them from diseases such as cholera and typhoid.

Alhaji Cambodia called on Old Students Association of the SHS schools and Non Governmental Organizations to support government to address these issues to promote good hygiene and sanitation in the schools.

Mr Dawuda Y. Shaibu Pumaaya, the Northern Regional Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) Coordinator at the Environmental Health Unit of NRCC, said 51 Public Senior High Schools in the Northern, Savannah and North East Regions participated in the first sanitation and hygiene league table.

He said 19 schools meet the standard of access to good toilet facilities for both students and staffs.

Mr Pumaaya said 15 Schools have poor standard of access to toilet facilities for students and 39 schools out of 51 were practicing OD.

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