Philippines is in the best position to become Open Defecation Free in the next two years: Kamal Kar
“Philippines is in the best position to achieve Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) in the next two years!”. This was a challenge posed to the Department of Health (DOH) by the pioneer of Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), Dr. Kamal Kar, in a gathering organised by UNICEF for various government and development partners working on sanitation, held in Manila on May 29.
Philippines aims to become Open Defecation Free by 2022 | Manila Conference
Dr. Maria Francia Laxamana, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health, affirmed that achieving ZOD is one of the legacies of the department, and targets to declare the country ZOD by 2022.
Laxamana recalled how the government used to give out toilet bowls in the hope of ending open defecation. However, this has not worked when toilet bowls were not used, because the problem on changing household’s behavior was not changed.
CLTS is a participatory approach to helping households abandon the practice of open defecation. It helps residents in a community realize that having no sanitary toilets is a risk not just to one family but to the whole community as well.
”We have learned from this experience well, and that is why DOH has rolled out CLTS as a key strategy in enabling communities to analyze their sanitation conditions and to collectively decide and take responsibility in stopping open defecation,” said Laxamana.
Since the implementation of CLTS in 2008, a shift in the pace of the communities declaring ZOD happened after a majority of development partners signed up to support the government and implement a phased approach to total sanitation (PhATS). From mid-2012 to the mid-2016, ODF achievement was accelerated through CLTS and PhATS, with success rates of 82%.
Emphasizing that no Filipino should be left behind, Laxamana assured that DOH and partners would work towards achieving these goals and would ensure that programs would be implemented with an equity lens and in such a way that would not undermine the community’s sense of agency and resourcefulness.
As of 2015, 7.4 million Filipinos still do not have access to sanitation facilities, and are possibly resorting to open defecation. Open defecation is a dangerous practice that results to people being at risk of getting diarrhea, cholera, and other waterborne diseases; intestinal worm infections; and malnutrition and stunting of children.
To date, around 1,062 barangays have been declared open defecation free and 20 municipalities were able to eliminate OD completely.
The event, “Accelerating Sustainable Zero Open Defecation Programming: Supporting the Poorest and Most Vulnerable,” was held at New World Manila Bay Hotel on May 29.
Kamal Kar is the pioneer of the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), and Prof. Robert Chambers of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) is the founder of participatory rural appraisal tools.
This was originally published here.