Mr. Yaw Attah Arhin, the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Technical Specialist at World Vision Ghana, said for the fight against open defecation to succeed, it must be tackled from places of decision-making.
Mr. Arhin said there was a need to move the campaign against open defecation beyond the current public education to a higher level where decision-makers would ensure that concrete steps were taken to achieve the fight in line with Sustainable Development Goals 6, Target 2.
The SDG 6 target 2 mandates countries to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation by 2030, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.
Mr Arhin was speaking at the Media Coalition against Open Defecation (M-CODe) National Working Group (NWG) empowerment summit 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.
He said open defecation was persisting in Ghana; therefore, everything must be done to eradicate it, adding that one gramme of human faeces contained about 10 million viruses and one million bacteria, among others.
He reminded people in decision making positions that nothing could be more important, especially to the welfare of children in Ghana, than improved sanitation, safe drinking water, and good hygiene, which the fight against open defecation covers.
He said all efforts in the various sectors would be eroded if the issues were not tackled well, noting that it was for that reason that World Vision Ghana was committed to WASH and had invested a lot of money into its activities.
He said the media also had the power to eliminate open defecation by 2030, therefore, urging media houses to work together in collaboration with other stakeholders to attract the funding for such WASH projects.
Mr. Francis Ameyibor, the National Convener of M-CODe, outlining the work of the National Working Group, said it would pursue the objectives of the Coalition in the regions, coordinate fundraising activities, and monitor progress for accountability, among others.
He said M-CODe, as part of its advocacy strategy, had developed an advocacy roadmap for eradicating open defecation, prioritized the Rural Sanitation Model and Strategy, and sustained the national ODF campaign and supported small sanitation businesses.
The strategy also sought to appeal to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to launch the Presidential Special Initiative (PSI) on ending open defecation, providing toilets in all schools and healthcare facilities.
Mr. Ameyibor said M-CODe was 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 revitalise advocacy against open defecation.
Other stakeholders included the Department of Gender, the National Commission for Civic Education, Regional Environmental Officers, the Environmental Protection Agency, World Vision, and civil society organisations.
The rest were Regional Officers from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Ministry of Sanitation, and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, among others, who work to revive and maintain the activism to alter the rules and build a society free of open defecation.