On Wednesday, January 29, eight communities in Ho Municipality, in Volta Region converged at Abutia Nyekornakpoe community to celebrate attaining Open Defecation Free (ODF) Status. The celebration was marked by a durbar, which had in attendance the chiefs and people of the various communities, the District Chief Executive (DCE) of Ho West, and the Regional Environmental Health Officer.
Abutia Gbetekpo, Abutia Nyekornakpoe, Abutia Amegame, Abutia Dzanyodeke, Lume Atsyame Healing Camp, Tsyome Lomnava and Tsyome Agortoekope have been declared ODF by both the GWASH Project and the Municipality. In all, the Ghana Water Sanitation and Hygiene Project worked in 16 communities in the Volta Region by triggering the communities, training natural leaders and the district verification team, providing the communities with household latrines, as well as user education on how to use the facilities.
Describing how a community attains ODF status, the GWASH Deputy Chief-of-Party Avril Kudzi explained, “We do community self assessment with the natural leaders. So when they pass that with us, then we let the district verification team confirm the status. In the Volta Region, we did the self assessment in 16 communities and out that, eight failed it.”
“We are happy that some communities have attained ODF status in the Volta Region. Sanitation is dignity and its Ghana’s policy,” Kudzi continued. “It is good to know that we are helping Ghana attain the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on sanitation.” MDG #7 aims to halve the proportion of the population without access to safe drinking water and other basic sanitation by 2015. Supporting ODF status is also a key deliverable for GWASH; the project aims to support 50 communities in achieving this status before the project’s end in March 2014. The project has now supported 49 communities in total in achieving ODF status.
The DCE of Ho West, Sam Ewoede, was present at the durbar, and he congratulated the communities for attaining the ODF status and thanked GWASH for providing the awareness. He also encouraged the communities to continue practicing everything they have been taught.
Vincent Darkey-Mensah, the Executive Director of EDSAM, the LNGO working in the Volta Region, said, “The event went very well. It has been a great work. I am saying that because of the time limit. The target initially was 16 communities, but you know it is difficult to change human behavior. When we started, things were not even clearer with the CLTS nationally.” He added, “In view of the time limit, this achievement is great. The natural leaders worked very hard and my staff, too.”
Each community that had attained ODF status was presented with a shovel, a cutlass, a rake and a pickaxe to aid in communal labour. The representatives of the various communities showed their appreciation to GWASH and for the tools that had been provided them.
Last week, GWASH communities in Western Region celebrated their ODF status; communities in Eastern Region also celebrated their ODF status this week.