The Upper West Regional Minister, Dr Hafiz Bin Salih, has charged Municipal and District Assemblies (MDAs) in the region to come out with appropriate sanitation by-laws and gazette others to help deal with the dwindling sanitation fortunes of the region.
He bemoaned that open defecation which was been battled by various stakeholders and donor agents in the region persisted and painted a gloomy picture about sanitation in the area and called for immediate attention.
“802 communities have been declared open defecation free out of a total of 1,167 communities in the region. This implies that we still have as many as 365 communities practising open defecation and it is not something to be proud of as a region,” he spelt out.
Dr Salih stated this in an address at a meeting of heads of departments, municipal and district chief executives as well as other stakeholders in the region.
The meeting was organised on Thursday to allow the stakeholders take stock of activities undertaken in their respective departments and endeavours.
He explained that aside the threat to sanitation in the region, open defecation also posed serious health challenges to residents, especially during the rainy season when running water carried human waste along into water bodies.
“This is not very pleasant news for a region where about 214,866 people still live without potable water and depend on ponds and streams for their daily water supply”, he stated and called on MDAs to support activities of the environmental health and sanitation departments in their assemblies by constituting by-laws to deal with recalcitrant landlords who refused to construct household latrines.
Dr Salih hinted that the region could boast of 2,396 boreholes and 25 Small Town Water Systems serving 1,152 communities but added that plans were far advanced to expand the water system in the Wa Municipality and further extend it to communities in adjoining districts to increase the number of people who had access to good drinking water.
Touching on other areas, the minister announced that a total of 104,494 farmers in the region, comprising 21,622 females subscribed for the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme last year and were supplied with 71,384 metric tonnes of subsidised fertilisers.
He, however, lamented the poor performance of candidates at the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and called for concerted efforts among stakeholders to consolidate ideas on boosting students’ performance at both levels.
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON