All eleven MDAs in the Upper West Region have set various dates spanning December 2015 to June 2017. The overall regional target set by the Regional Coordinating Council is December 2017.
The Upper West Region have been implementing the Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach to ending open defecation and creating demand for household toilets as part of the nationwide scale-up programme. Some of the districts have received various levels of financial and technical support from NGOs and other development partners notably UNICEF.
As at May 2015, however, the rate of achievement was not as expected. Not a single district was completely open defecation-free (ODF) even through the aspiration in 2012 was that the whole region would be ODF by end of 2014. Out of the 1170 communities in the region, 1013 had been entered out of which 349 had stopped open defecation, representing a conversion rate of about 47% and an overall regional ODF rate of about 29%.
During the exercise, one of the key factors believed to have caused the slow ODF conversion rate and thus militating against the success of the CLTS programme was inadequate funding support from the MDAs. On this issue, the Deputy Regional Minister, Hon. Dr. Mushiebu Mohammed-Alfa, challenged the MDCEs and DCDs to focus attention on the CLTS programme and help to redeem the sunken image of Upper West Region as the second highest open defecation prone region in Ghana even though it comes first in terms of access to improved drinking water.
It also became obvious that some of the MDCEs did not yet fully understand the CLTS concept. This was partially the reason why they had not paid the expected attention to the programme. The forum thus provided an opportunity to enlighten them on the potential of CLTS to solve Ghana’s basic sanitation problems.
Some of the MDCEs pledged to assume full ownership of the process and provide all necessary support to ensure that the objectives are met to help the region achieve ODF. Other activities suggested in the roadmap to achieving regionwide ODF by the end of 2017 include triggering of remaining communities, intensification of community follow up activities, training and empowering of identified community natural leaders, and inter-district mentoring.
Nadowli Kaleo is expected to become the first to declare districtwide ODF by December 2016, followed by Dafiama Busie Issa in February 2016. Lambusie Karni, Nandom and Sissala West will follow by August and November 2016. Four MDAs: Wa East, Wa West, Wa Municipal, and Sissila East, have all set a December 2016 deadline, while Lawra and Jirapa have set June 2017 to achieve districtwide ODF.
The Deputy Regional Minister reiterated the fact that sanitation is a public good and that the actions or inactions of individuals affect everybody. He therefore challenged the MDCEs to provide leadership and also set aside funds to make the target become a reality. He also appealed to all stakeholders and NGOs to scale up financial and technical support for sanitation.
By Emmanuel Addai