Afadjato South and Kadjebi Districts have been ranked top of the cumulative Open Defaecation Free (ODF) league table for the Volta and Oti Regions.
According to a Government of Ghana-UNICEF WASH Implementation Programme Report ending quarter two, Adaklu and Nkwanta North placed second across the two Regions with Kpando Municipal and Jasikan occupying the third spots.
The study made available to the Ghana News Agency, said 532 out of 4,553 communities were part of entities that had received support from various sanitation partners to improve household sanitation coverage and to eliminate open defaecation, translating into 12 per cent coverage, an indication that the June 2019 target date for the attainment of a Region-wide ODF has been missed.
The fourth position out of 16 in the Volta Region is occupied by Hohoe, Akatsi South, North Dayi, South Dayi, Ketu North, Ho West, Ho, Keta, Akatsi North, Ketu South, Central Tongu, North Tongu and South Tongu, while the rest of the Oti region has Nkwanta South, Krachi East, Biakoye, Krachi West and Krachi Nchumuru placement in that order.
Mr Joshua K. D. Ofosuhene, Volta Regional WASH Consultant, said WASH is one of UNICEF’s child survival initiatives targeted at ensuring that all children have a right to survive, thrive and fulfill their potential to the benefit of a better world.
He said its overall objective is to support the attainment of SDG targets by 2030, with Goal Six specifically ensuring availability and sustainable management of Water and Sanitation for all, which again touches Goal 3, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 16.
The Consultant said open defaecation is degrading, offensive, demeaning, outdated and not acceptable, calling for commitment from stakeholders and attitudinal change from the people.
Specific indicators to be met include achieving a universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all, as well as achieving access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end Open Defaecation.
The report indicated that whereas the three northern UNICEF supported regions were improving in reducing their open defaecation rates, it was increasing in the two southern regions including Volta (24.5-38%) and Central (14.80-17%) due to lack of commitment from duty bearers, according to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2017/2018 report.
The MICS report targeted 79 per cent access to basic service for drinking water with the Volta/Oti Regions recording (59%); 21 per cent access to basic sanitation with 14 per cent for Volta/Oti, whereas 22 per cent practice Open Defaecation (31% rural).
Its positive deliverables include greater strides by some districts in the results-based financing (RBF) implementation phase with commitment and support from some District Chief Executives and traditional leaders shaping good impact.
Some Assemblies have supported the implementation process with logistics such as apparel, motorbikes and phones, others resorting to speedy disbursement of implementation funds and some providing accurate data.
The report enumerated weak oversight and ownership of interventions by institutions with the established mandates, non-gazetted and/or weak enforcement of sanitation bye-laws, and ‘interferences’ as challenges befalling the scheme.
Others include limited human resource to engage communities, poor commitment and ‘apathy’ towards programmes success and reporting among MDAs as well as mobility of field staff.
The report recommended working towards a revised and more practical date for Region-wide ODF attainment and promotes avenues for learning, sharing and accountability, and increase advocacy for stronger leadership drive and ownership.
It called for the re-launch of updated Regional League Table to motivate well performing Assemblies, and also create competition.
Mr Kweku Quansah, Programme Officer of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD) of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, said the rate of open defecation in the country ranks among the highest in the world.
He said currently, 19 out of every 100 Ghanaians openly defecate daily and blamed colonisation for the open defeacation nuisance explaining, “It is one of the colonial legacies bequeathed to Ghana.
“In those times, owning a toilet was perceived as prestige and something for the affluent in society but popularised the construction of communal latrines for the people.
“Usage of these public latrines was largely free but consequently metamorphosed into privatized commercial ventures, which became too expensive for the people to access, hence the preference to openly defaecate.
This practice, costs the country 79 million dollars annually, whereas it would require less than a million latrines to eliminate the scourge, according to figures released by the Water and Sanitation Programme of the World Bank, making the country the fifth highest among 18 African countries analysed by the Bank.
Open defecation has led to epidemic disease outbreaks like cholera and other water-borne diseases, especially when human excreta and urine contaminates drinking water sources.
According to statistics from the Ghana Health Service, cholera continued to claim several lives out of the total of 5,614 cases recorded nationwide in 2015, with five regions having reported the outbreak, including, Greater Accra, Central, Eastern, Upper West and the Northern regions, giving a death rate of 1.5 percent.
Professor Chris Gordon, Director, Institute of Environment and Sanitation, University of Ghana, Legon, said 16 million Ghanaians used unsanitary or shared latrines while 4.8 million had no latrines at all and defecated in the open.
“The poorest is 22 times more likely to practice open defecation than the rich.”
He said the approach needed to address issues of relevance and applicability to national development needs, with emphasis on knowledge creation and better understanding of processes and interaction as well as cost-effective innovation must lead the change dynamics.
Professor Samuel Afrane, a land economist highlighting on slums and peri-urban trends said “large proportions of population in West Africa lived in slums and in Ghana, according to 2001 statistics 4.1 million Ghanaians lived in slums. This number increased to 5.5 per cent in 2008 and showing positive trends of rise.
He said 51 per cent of Ghana’s population lived in the cities, which are not well-planned, which is expected to rise to 58.5 percent in 2020, with the trend continuing.
Prof. Afranie identified lack of urban and regional planning systems to curtail movement of people; use of obsolete planning technology and inadequate human resources; unresolved legislative conflicts and inconsistencies as well as poor coordination among urban development actors as factors increasing the number of slums and associated sanitary problems.
“We cannot deal with slums in a hit-and-run manner, it must be dealt with holistically,” he said.
A Human Settlement’s advocate, Mr Farouk Braimah, suggested to major players in the industry to adopt lower-cost technologies to provide good quality and affordable sanitation and housing facilities for the increasing population.
He, therefore, called for concerted efforts to develop all-inclusive cities where everybody’s sanitation needs would be well catered for.
The problem of open defeacation and associated insanitary conditions in Ghana’s cities have become recyclical in nature as city authorities are compelling landlord through enactment of bye-laws to construct new toilet facilities for their tenants with the provision of incentive packages.
Reports are that some are busily expanding the existing toilets into rentable rooms making efforts to stem the tide a non-starter.