To win the war against open defecation and related poor sanitation practices, journalists have been urged to collaborate with other stakeholders to tackle the menace head-on.
A Technical Specialist for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) at World Vision Ghana, Mr Yaw AttahArhin, said open defecation was linked to sanitation-related diseases which have consequences on health, productivity and socio-economic development of the country.
He therefore advised journalists to give priority to poor sanitation related reportage to address the menace which claim nearly 4,000 lives in the country annually.
He said this in Bolgatangaat the launch of the Media Coalition against Open Defecation (M-CODe), Upper East Regional Branch.
According to MrArhin, the country had lost millions of cedis annually due to poor sanitation, despite the huge support from the Coalition of non-governmental organisations in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), attributing it to sheer negligence on the part of the citizenry.
He explained that the issue could also be attributed to failed policies and strategy implementation on the part of government and underscored the need for the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources to up their visions and improve upon their strategies, so as to succeed in curbing open defecation in the country.
According to the 2021 Population and Housing Census, approximately 17.7 per cent of Ghana’s population defecates in the open, owing to lack of befitting toilet facilities.
This meant that the issue of non-availability of health infrastructures, such as toilets, remained a major health concern in many parts of the country, particularly the rural areas.
The issue of poor sanitation is growing from bad to worse in the Upper East as 60 per cent of its citizens openly defecate, statistics from UNICEF, has revealed.
This, MrArhin observed, was capable of thwarting the country’s desire to attaining the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal Six (SDG6) by 2030.
A practising journalist and national convener for the M-CODe, Mr Francis Ameyibor, tasked the media in the region to move from arm-chair journalism to advocacy journalism in pursuit of the needed progress for the country in all areas of national life.
Therefore he said the media should not shy away from naming and shaming communities in the region which had garnered notoriety in practising open defecation.
He mentioned that the objectives of the establishment of the M-CODe were to develop the capacity of the media as advocates to improve sanitation, hygiene and support public sensitisation.
FROM FRANCIS DABRE DABANG, BOLGATANGA