Global Communities, under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Health (W4H) project, has facilitated for two communities to attain Open Defecation Free (ODF) Sanitised level ensuring improved sanitation practices.
The communities are Takuka and Zangum-Bouduri located in the West Mamprusi Municipality of the North East Region.
On July 13, this year, Takuka and Zangum-Bouduri were successfully verified and declared ODF sanitised by a joint team of two independent verifiers and a Regional Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee on Sanitation (RICCS) representative from the North East Regional Coordinating Council.
This was the first time a community had been verified and declared ODF Sanitised in the history of the country since she adopted the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) Concept under the Rural Sanitation Model and Strategy for basic sanitation improvement in rural communities.
For a community to be declared ODF Sanitised, every household and public gathering place must have an improved latrine and hygienically maintained latrine, no open defecation is practised, all latrines have handwashing facilities with evidence of hand washing by all after defecation, no overgrowth of weeds, animals dropping controlled to a minimum, surroundings generally clean, all households practise proper food hygiene and also hygienic water storage and use among other indicators.
Takuka has 13 households with a population of about 160 people and their main economic activities are fishing and farming while Zangum-Bouduri has a population of about 97 people and 7 houses and their main economic activity is crop farming.
The Takuka and Zangum-Bouduri were among 11 ODF communities that were identified and supported with model latrines under the W4H project.
The support to them followed the effect of heavy rains and flooding they experienced in July and August, 2020 that resulted in the destruction and collapse of almost all latrines in the communities.
Global Communities, using the national guidelines for supporting the poor and the vulnerable, intervened and supported the communities to encourage them to sustain their ODF status, which eventually led to the two improving the hygiene conditions and moving up the ODF ladder.
The ODF Sanitised community is the third level in the ODF category in the country’s ODF Verification Protocol and it is the penultimate a community can attain after ODF Basic and ODF (Level 2).
This status, if sustained for 36 months, the communities would then become Sustainable Sanitised, the highest in the ODF ladder.
In facilitating the attainment of this level, Global Communities partnering with the West Mamprusi Municipal Environmental Health and Sanitation Department, carried out series of activities including orientation of the Environmental Health Officers, re-triggering of the communities, training of natural leaders, and supporting RICCS monitoring in addition to the weekly routine monitoring by the Environmental Health Agents.
Mr Dominic Dapaah, Coordinator for Global Communities, who led a team to assess the sanitation situation in the two communities following their attainment of ODF Sanitised status, encouraged community members to sustain the progress made and appealed to “Opinion leaders, chiefs and natural leaders and every member of the community to try to maintain this for a long time so that we can still be the first in the country to achieve the next level, which is the final one; what we call the Sustainable Sanitised.”
Mr Anass Iddrisu, West Mamprusi Municipal Environmental Health Officer said the two communities had become model communities in the country, saying, their attainment of the ODF Sanitised status would positively impact development in the area.
Mr Akwesitse Agbe, a Community Leader at Takuka said “Previously, sanitation was a challenge in the community. Our children fell ill all the time. When the Global Communities brought the W4H project to our community, we started following the sanitation guidelines. Anybody who defecated in the open was fined. We realised that the sanitation situation in our community started improving. Now, we are happy with the level of sanitation in our community.”
Other community members were happy at the new feat chalked by their communities and gave assurance that it would be sustained to ensure that they would all remain healthy to attract development projects to the area.